Modernism and modern poetry


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  • Perceived problems with the ideals of the movements that preceded modernism: Romanticism, Victorianism, and Edwardianism.
  • -Artists belittled the capacity of science to provide accounts of the things that matter, like subjective experiences and moral issues. -Victorianism and Edwardianism also proved inadequate: The first seemed too morally earnest, complacent, and, at times, overly squeamish about sexual matters; the second, a reaction to its predecessor’s conservatism, began to doubt authority, but not always very deeply. After the Edwardian period, the movement to the ideas of modernism seemed almost inevitable.
  • Modernism and modern poetry

    1. 1.  Modernism is a comprehensive movement which began in the closing years of the 19th century and has had a wide influence internationally during much of the 20th century.  reveals breaking away from established rules, traditions and conventions, fresh ways of looking at man’s position and function in the universe and many experiments in form and style.  It is particularly concerned with language and how to use it and with writing itself.  style or movement in the arts that aims to break with classical and traditional forms”
    2. 2.  Embracing change and present, modernism encompasses the works of thinkers who rebelled against nineteenth century academic traditions  believing the "traditional" forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social organization and daily life were becoming outdated  They directly confronted the new economic, social and political aspects of an emerging fully industrialized world.   Rebelled against Victorian artificialities, moral bankruptcy and historicist traditions  Encouraged the re-examination of every aspect of existence (e.g. commerce / philosophy)
    3. 3.  The roots of Modernism emerged in the middle of the nineteenth century; and rather locally, in France, in literature and painting.  The "avant-garde" was what Modernism was called at first, and the term remained to describe movements which identify themselves as attempting to overthrow some aspect of tradition.  There were real shifts in the natural sciences, social sciences, and liberal arts occurring at this time as well.
    4. 4.  In the 1890s, a strand of thinking began to assert that it was necessary to push aside previous norms entirely, instead of merely revising past knowledge in light of current techniques.  It was argued that, if the nature of reality itself was in question, and if restrictions which had been in place around human activity were falling, then art, too, would have to radically change.  Thus, in the first 15 years of the twentieth century a series of writers, thinkers, and artists made the break with traditional means of organizing literature, painting, and music.
    5. 5.     This movement originated when some writers felt that they required a new form of writing to express their ideologies and outlook towards life.  The beginning of the 20th century is an extremely convenient starting point.  It saw the end of Queen Victoria’s reign, marking a symbolic break from the preceding century.  Modernism enabled writers to pursue highly individualistic forms of writing.
    6. 6.  Modernism was set in motion through a series of cultural shocks.  The first of these shocks was the Great War which ruined many lives in Europe. At that time this “War to End All Wars” was looked upon with such ghastly horror that many people simply could not imagine what the world seemed to be plunging towards.
    7. 7.  The horror of WW I also fed the urge for a new way to express the protest towards the social atmosphere prevalent at that time.  Rapid urbanization  Industrialization  Immigration  Technological Evolution  Growth of Modern Science  Influence of Austrian Sigmund Freud  Influence of German Karl Marx
    8. 8.  from country to city  from farm to factory  from native born to new citizen  introduction to “mass” culture (pop culture)  split between science and the literary tradition
    9. 9.  Conviction that the previously sustaining structures of human life, whether social, political, religious, or artistic, had been either destroyed or shown up as falsehoods or fantasies. Therefore, art had to be renovated.  Modernist writing is marked by a strong and conscious break with tradition. It rejects traditional values and assumptions.  “Modern” implies a historical discontinuity, a sense of alienation, loss, despair and nihilism.  It rejects not only history but also the society of whose fabrication history is a record. Poetry tended to provide pessimistic cultural criticism or loftily reject social issues altogether.
    10. 10.  A breaking with tradition and conventional modes of form, resulting in fragmentation and bold, highly innovative experimentation  a disappearance of character summary, of discrete well-demarcated characters as in Dickens; the representation of the self as diverse, contradictory, ambiguous, multiple  skepticism about linear plots with sudden climactic turning points and clear resolutions; the use instead of discontinuous fragments, no proper beginning, middle and end; a-chronological leaps in time, multiple plots, open unresolved endings  modernist story was often more of a "stream of consciousness"-- tracing non-linear thought processes, moving by the "logic of the unconscious"; imagistic rather than logical connection  multiple point of views used; rejection of the single, authoritative, omniscient point of view for a narrative focalized instead through the consciousness of one character whose point of view is limited.
    11. 11.  Irony, comparisons, juxtaposition and satire are some common elements found in modernist writing.  Juxtaposition usually represents something which is unusual, for example, a cat and mouse sharing a good friendship.  often does not have a proper beginning, middle and/or end. Hence, the readers may get slightly confused as to what the writer is trying to communicate to them.  Modernist writers use irony and satire as tools that aid them in making fun of something and point out faults, usually, problems within their society.
    12. 12.  The plot, theme and the characters are not necessarily linear.  Modernist writings usually focus more on representing the writer's ideas, opinions and thoughts and presenting them to the public at as high a volume as possible.  Some past modernist writers different fonts, symbols, colors etc in their writing  Modern fiction tends to be written in the first person or to limit the reader to one character’s point of view on the action. The selected point of view was often that of a naïve or marginal person—a child or an outsider—to convey better the reality of confusion rather than the myth of certainty.  
    13. 13.  Modernists sometimes used a collection of seemingly random impressions and literary, historical, philosophical, or religious allusions with which readers are expected to make the connections on their own.  This reference to details of the past was a way of reminding readers of the old, lost coherence.  T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land is arguably the greatest example of this allusive manner of writing; it includes a variety of Buddhist, Christian, Greek, Judaic, German and occult references, among others.
    14. 14.  Imagism  Cubism  Dadaism  Expressionism  Surrealism  Symbolism  Impressionism  Existentialism  Futurism
    15. 15.  Imagism was a movement in early 20th-century Anglo-American poetry that favored precision of imagery and clear, sharp language.  The Imagists rejected the sentiment and discursiveness of much  Romantic and Victorian poetry.  They wrote short poems that used ordinary language and free verse to create sharp, exact, concentrated pictures.  They used the exact word instead of decorative words, language of common speech, Created new rhythms that express new moods, allowed complete freedom in the poet's choice of subject and produced clear, instead of blurred and indefinite, poetry.
    16. 16.  Symbolism in France began as a reaction against Naturalism and Realism, movements which attempted to objectively capture reality.  The practice of representing things by means of symbols or of attributing symbolic meaning to objects, events or relationships.  Symbolism was marked by a belief that language is expressly symbolic in its nature and provide imagery and detail to an object.  It makes the writing more interesting and represent meaning that goes beyond what is literary being said.  As symbolism sought freedom from rigidity in the selection of subject matter, so it desired to free poetry from the restrictions of conventional versification.  During the 20th century the use of symbolism became a major force in British literature. T. S. Eliot adapted it in the development of his individual style and praised it in his criticism.  The most outstanding development of symbolism was in the art of the novel.
    17. 17.  The term ‘Impressionism’ comes from the school of mid- nineteenth century French painting.  The impressionists made the act of perception the key for the understanding of structure of reality. They developed a technique by which objects were not seen as solids but as fragments of color which the spectator’s eye unified.  The basic premise involved was that truth lay in the mental processes, not in the precise representation of external reality.  Impressionism frequently refers to the technique of centering on the mental life of person rather than on reality around him.  Characteristics of Impressionist painting include visible brushstrokes, emphasis on light in its changing qualities, ordinary subject matter and unusual visual angles  It is representation of reality through impressions.
    18. 18.  A 20th century art movement that inspired other art forms. In cubist artworks, objects are broken up and reassembled into an abstract form. Analytic cubism used geometric shapes rather than color to represent the real world.  cubism incorporated the idea of collage: pulling together a variety of materials to create a new whole.  Cubist poetry attempts to do in verse what cubist painters do on canvas; that is, take the elements of an experience, fragment them ( “destructions”), and then rearrange them in a meaningful new synthesis ( “sum of destructions”). In writing, it involves using different narrators for different chapters or even different paragraphs, so as to describe how each character views the others, put in the words, thoughts and feelings of the characters themselves.
    19. 19.  A nihilistic art movement especially in painting that flourished in Europe early in the 20th century.  based on irrationality and negation of the accepted laws of beauty.  It is a protest against the barbarism of war  the rejection of prevailing standards of art and ignored logical relationship between idea and statement, argued for absolute freedom,  delivered itself of numerous provocative manifestoes.
    20. 20.  It is a literary and artistic movement flourished in Germany after World War 1.  It arouse as a reaction against materialism, rapid mechanization and urbanization.  Expressionists concern was general truths rather than with particular situations. Expressionism, term used to describe works of art and literature in which the representation of reality is distorted to communicate an inner vision.  The expressionist transforms nature rather than imitates it.  Writers express an inner vision, emotion, or spiritual reality to assert their alienation from an industrial society whose inhumanity repels them; they subordinate conventional rational style and let emotion dictate the structure of their works, emphasizing rhythm, disrupted narrative line and broken syntax, and distorted imagery  forms derived from nature are distorted or exaggerated and colors are intensified for emotive or expressive purposes.  The revolt against realism, the distortion of the objects of the outer world, and the violent dislocation of time sequence .
    21. 21.  A 20th century aesthetic, artistic and cultural movement developed in France that attempts to express the workings of sub-conscious mind.  They focused upon using all forms of art as a means to express the real functioning of human mind.  It is highly concerned with dreams and expresses the imagination as revealed in dreams, where objects, people and shapes are greatly distorted.  Surrealism inherited an anti-rationalist sensibility from Dadaism, and was shaped by emerging theories on our perception of reality, especially Sigmund Freud's model of the subconscious.
    22. 22.  It is a concept that became popular during the Second World War in France.  It proposes that man is full of anxiety and despair with no meaning in his life, just simply existing, until he made decisive choice about his own future. That is the way to achieve dignity as a human being.  Existentialists believe that life is very difficult and that it doesn't have an "objective" or universally known value, but that the individual must create value by affirming it and living it, not by talking about it.  Existentialism deals with the recurring problem of finding meaning within existence. From this perspective, there are no meanings or structures that precede one’s own existence, as one finds in organized religion. Therefore, the individual must find or create meaning for his or her self.  It emphasizes the uniqueness and isolation of individual experience in a hostile universe, regards human existence as unexplainable and stresses freedom of choice.
    23. 23.  In the 1920's and 1930's the term Futurism was loosely used to describe a wide variety of aggressively modern styles in art and literature.  the futurists love speed, noise, machines, pollution and cities as they embraced the exciting new world that was then upon them.  Futurist paintings were made to glorify life  Futurists developed to glorify urban life as well as machinery and industrialization.
    24. 24.  After 1900 the English scene becomes terribly chaotic. In the field of poetry-as also in other fields of literature-we find a tremendous activity.  We find a lot of experimentation and innovation in modern poetry. Most of the poets have broken away from tradition completely, as they feel that poetry should change with the changing times. Modern poetry exercises a great freedom in the choice of themes.  The two wars and impending danger of a third have cast a gloomy shadow on much of the poetry of the twentieth century.  The modern age been called "the age of anxiety." In spite of material prosperity poets were full of tensions and anxieties which are almost an inseparable feature of modern living.  Add to them the disappearance of religious faith and disillusionment is natural in modern poetry.
    25. 25.  Traditional "poetic diction" and even regular metre have been discarded almost completely.  Though rhyme has almost completely gone, rhythm freed from the artificial demands of metrical regularity is still used.  A language with the flow and turns of common speech is mostly employed.   Free verse is the most usual mode of all serious poetry of today.  In the twentieth century many experiments have been made on the technique and diction of poetry
    26. 26.  Juxtaposition of ideas  Intertextuality  use of allusions and multiple association of words  borrowings from other cultures  unconventional use of metaphors  massive use of alliteration and assonance  no regular rhyming scheme  visual images in distinct lines
    27. 27.  Samuel Beckett  James Joyce  Joseph Conrad  T.S Eliot  William Faulkner  William Butler Yeats  Ezra Pound  D.H Lawrence  Gertrude Stein