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Literary Modernism from 1 st two decades of 20 th century... (to today ?) Belief in Western Science & Technology to effect Progress achieves status of.

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Presentation on theme: "Literary Modernism from 1 st two decades of 20 th century... (to today ?) Belief in Western Science & Technology to effect Progress achieves status of."— Presentation transcript:

1 Literary Modernism from 1 st two decades of 20 th century... (to today ?) Belief in Western Science & Technology to effect Progress achieves status of a religion in pre-World War I Western Europe Western European Imperialism: dominates 4/5 of Earth’s land surface, represented as enlightened force of peace & progress Industrialism’s 2 nd wave: electricity, chemicals, oil, trans- portation, communica- tion technology prep for automobile, telephone, radio, airplane

2 Later C19th Mood ( ) e.g Thomas Hardy: Dark mood of human winter; stern, stoic look at senseless universe > anarchy & perverse tragic ironies of elemental human passions & fate’s “Crass Doomsters” (Chance, Time, Causality) Aesthetic Movement, Decadence, Fin-de- siecle - e.g. Oscar Wilde (1) Artists/Writers alienated by “Philistine” middle-class culture e.g. > Matthew Arnold

3 Late 19 th century Mood, cont. (2) Art for Art’s Sake: Art’s Independence as (pseudo-religious) end in itself: Unique, special (mythic-symbolic) value in form, language inseparable from meaning (3) Aestheticism descends into excesses of Decadence: hedonistic, emotional debauchery, degeneration Fin de siecle [>French = “end of century”] mood: melancholy, witty, sophisticated ennui (world weariness), doom Eve of earth-shaking changes

4 Edwardian ( ) & Georgian England (1910 – 1914+): Pre-World War I Storm Edwardian England > Edward VII (r ) = hedonism, conspicuous consumption (by those who could afford it) Consciously anti- Victorian: attacks on Victorian art & respectability (family, education, religion), position of women, British Empire e.g. Samuel Taylor Butler’s Way of All Flesh (1884; 1903); & Lytton Strachey’s Eminent Victorians (1918) Anti-colonialism > fueled by U.K.-Boer War ( ), Irish nationalism, & works like Heart of Darkness

5 Literary Modernism Early 20th century - Post-WW I Artists’ alienation from grey, bureaucratic, urban contemporary society = a sterile, materialistic “waste land” of “hollow men”: “Mistah Kurtz—he dead” [>Conrad, HofD] Radical break from “hollow” religion, art history, knowledge, morality, self of trad. Western civilization Artists & writers seek inspiration from new sources + turn inward to create new artistic forms for rendering contemporary chaos, disorder, alienation; & search for meaning

6 Modernist Poetic Revolution Imagism (Ezra Pound) in US, UK & W. Europe: “Make It New!” Hard, clear, precise images > haiku (vs. Rom. fuzziness & emotionalism) Direct treatment of the thing (subjective or objective) Free metrical movement Short, sharply etched, descriptive lyric (but no method for longer, complex poems)

7 The Great War (to end all wars) New Apocalypse: Idealism replaced by profound disillusion- ment, cynicism, despair Catastrophe of WWI further shook faith in Western civilization, imperialism, & cultural values Wilfred Owen (1893- KIA: 1918): “The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est / Pro patria mori”

8 W. B. Yeats (Irish, ) W. B. Yeats’s career spans literary movements: 1890s’ Aestheticism gives way to tough, spare, ironic language of Modernism, but also heir of Romantics: >Wm Blake: create own system of be enslaved by another’s; warring contraries=progression; Creates complex mystical system (like Blake) Spiritus Mundi = storehouse of all human experience & know- ledge(Jung: archetypes, collective unconscious)

9 Yeats & “Second Coming” Human history: alternating 2000-year antithetical to values, beliefs of cycle before ca = at end of Christian era -”center cannot hold”-antithetical new era (“rough beast” ) now slouching toward Bethlehem to be born Yeats’s metaphor: interlocking cones or spirals (“widening gyre”): Blake: without warring Contraries,” no progression

10 Yeats & “Second Coming” New Apocalypse: “Second Coming” rivals Heart of Darkness as source of phrases and metaphors used to describe the Modern experience of the 20 th century WWI fosters Modernism: chaos of (dis)belief, ominous forbidding future Yeats’s verbal magic: rich symbols, haunting cadences, emotionally suggestive


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