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American Literature Lecture Fourteen. The American Modernism (I) (1914 - 1945)

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Presentation on theme: "American Literature Lecture Fourteen. The American Modernism (I) (1914 - 1945)"— Presentation transcript:

1 American Literature Lecture Fourteen

2 The American Modernism (I) (1914 - 1945)

3 Part One: Introduction: I. The background of producing modernism 1)Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species (1859) radically altered the nineteenth century romantic view that nature, especially human nature, was benign. 2)Herbert Spencer and the "Gospel of Wealth" or Social Darwinism: reconciled individualism with capitalism by suggesting that the interests of each citizen as well as the interests of the state are served by free economic expansion. 3)The work of Marx, and Freud, as well as other great intellectual explorers and rebels had mounted an assault against orthodox religious faith that lasted into the twentieth century. 4)World War I in particular deepened doubt and reauthorized disillusionment. 5)Another source of disillusionment was the rapid transformation of American society that accelerated with World War I.

4 II. Modernism? 1)Modernism is a cultural movement that generally includes the progressive art and architecture, design, literature, music, dance, painting and other visual arts which emerged in the beginning of the 20th century, particularly in the years following World War I. It was a movement of artists and designers who rebelled against late 19 th century academic and historicist tradition, and embraced the new economic, social and political aspects of the emerging modern world. 2)The avant-garde movements that followed-including Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Expressionism, Constructivism, De Stijl, and Abstract Expressionism-are generally defined as Modernist.

5 3)Modernism in literature is not easily summarized, but the key elements are experimentation, anti-realism, individualism and a stress on the cerebral rather than emotive aspects. 4)The work of Modernist writers is characterized by showing the disenchantment, dislocation, and alienation of men in the world, and by the emphasis on experimentation and formalism and objectivism which are, in most cases, a reaction to the cataclysm known as the Modern Age. 5)Among American writers, the best-known Modernists are T.S.Eliot, Ezra Pound, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and so on.

6 III. The Schools of American Modernism: 1)Modern poetry: experiments in form (Imagism) 2)Prose Writing: modern realism (the Lost Generation) 3)Novels of Social Awareness 4)The Harlem Renaissance 5)The Fugitives and New Criticism 6)The 20 th Century American Drama

7 Part Two: Modern poetry: experiments in form (Imagism)

8 I. Imagism: 1)It is a Movement in U.S. and English poetry characterized by the use of concrete language and figures of speech, modern subject matter, metrical freedom, and avoidance of romantic or mystical themes, aiming at clarity of expression through the use of precise visual images. 2)It grew out of the Symbolist Movement in 1912 and was initially led by Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, and others. 3)The Imagist manifesto came out in 1912 showed three Imagist poetic principles: direct treatment of the “thing” ( no fuss, frill, or ornament ), exclusion of superfluous words ( precision and economy of expression ), the rhythm of the musical phrase rather than the sequence of a metronome ( free verse form and music ).

9 4)Pound defined an image as that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time, and later he extended this definition when he stated that an image was “a vortex or cluster of fused ideas, endowed with energy.” 5)Generally an Imagist’s image represents a moment of revealed truth, truth revealed by a physical object presented and seen as such. An Imagist poem, therefore, often contains a single dominant image, or a quick succession of related images. Its effect is meant to be instantaneous. For example: In a Station of the Metro The apparition of these faces in the crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough. 人群中幽然浮现的一张张脸庞, 黝黑的湿树枝上的一片片花瓣。

10 6)About the above poem:  The “Metro” is the underground railway of Paris. In this brief poem, Pound uses the fewest possible words to convey an accurate image, according to the principles of the “Imagists”.  He tries to render exactly his observation of human faces seen in an underground railway station. He sees the faces, turned variously toward light and darkness, like flower petals which are half absorbed by, half resisting, the wet, dark texture of a bough.  The word “apparition”, with its double meaning, binds the two aspects of the observation together:  Apparition meaning “appearance”, in the sense of something which appears, or shows up; something which can be clearly observed.  Apparition meaning something which seems real but perhaps is not real; something ghostly which cannot be clearly observed.

11 7)There existed great influence of Chinese poetry on the Imagist movement. Imagists found value in Chinese poetry was because Chinese poetry is, by virtue of the ideographic and pictographic nature of the Chinese language, essentially imagistic poetry. 《天净沙 · 秋思》 马致远 枯藤、老树、昏鸦,小桥、流水、人家, 古道、西风、瘦马,夕阳西下,断肠人在天涯。 Autumn Evening crows perch on old trees wreathed with withered vine, Water of a stream flows by a family cottage near a tiny bridge. A lean horse walks on an ancient road in western breeze, The sun is setting in the west, The heart-broken one is at the end of the Earth.

12 II. The Major Representatives of the Modern Poetry:  Ezra Pound (1885- 1972)  T.S.Eliot (1888 - 1965)  Wallace Stevens (1879 - 1955)  William Carlos Williams (1883 - 1963)  Robert Frost (1874 - 1963)  E.E.Cummings (1894 - 1963)

13 一. Ezra Pound (1885 - 1972)

14 1. His Life: 1)Born in Idaho in 1885 and raised in Pennsylvania, Ezra Pound spent most of his life in Europe and became one of the 20th century's most influential -- and controversial -- poets in the English language. 2)Pound was undoubtedly a genius. Before he graduated from university, he had mastered 9 languages as well as English grammar and literature. After college in Pennsylvania and a brief stint as a teacher, in 1908 Pound travelled to Venice and then to London, where he refined his aesthetic sensibilities and edited the anthology Des Imagistes (1914). 3)Pound championed the likes of T. S. Eliot, William Carlos Williams and James Joyce and, influenced by Chinese and Japanese poetry, advocated free meter and a more economical use of words and images in poetic expression, leading the Imagist Movement of poetry.

15 4)He moved to Paris in 1920 and got acquainted with Gertrude Stein and her circle of friends (which included Ernest Hemingway and Pablo Picasso), then settled in Italy in 1924. 5)Enamored with Benito Mussolini, Pound made anti-American radio broadcasts during World War II. He was arrested as a traitor in 1945 and initially confined in Pisa. He was then sent to the U.S., where he was deemed mentally unfit to stand trial for treason. 6)Pound was confined for 12 years in a hospital (actually prison) for the criminally insane in Washington. During this time he translated works of ancient Greek and ancient Chinese literature. While in prison, he was awarded a prestigious poetry prize in 1949 for his last Cantos. 7)In 1958 he returned to Italy, where he continued to write and make translations until he died in 1972.

16 2. His works: 1)Pound wrote 70 books and over 1500 articles in his life. 2)His major work of poetry is The Cantos, a long poem which he wrote in sections between 1915 and 1945. 3. His masterpiece: The Cantos 1)In this poem, he traces the rise and fall of eastern and western empires, the destruction caused by greed and materialism. 2)He deplores the corruption of America after the heroic time of Jefferson, 3)The last part, produced from his own suffering, is the most moving.

17 二. T. S. Eliot (1888 - 1965)

18 I. About the author: 1)Thomas Stearns Eliot, American-British poet and critic, was born from a middle-class family in St. Louis in 1888. 2)During his studies at Harvard in America, the Sorbonne in Paris, and Oxford in England, Eliot mastered French, Italian, English literature, as well as Sanskrit. 3)In 1914 Eliot accepted a job in London as a bank clerk establishing his residence in London. Soon the erudite young man joined the literary circle of Pound and Yeats and started to write poetry. In 1917 his first poem was published and caused a great deal of comment on both side of the Atlantic. 4)After the bank clerk, Eliot worked as an assistant editor of the Egoist (1917–19) and edited his own quarterly, the Criterion (1922–39). With the help of Pound he published his best-known work, The Waste Land, in 1922.

19 5)His first marriage in 1915 was troubled and ended with their separation in 1933. His subsequent marriage in 1957 was far more successful. 6)In 1925 he was employed by the publishing house of Faber and Faber, eventually becoming one of its directors, a position which he held until his death. In 1927 he became a British subject remaining in England where his entire life was devoted to literature. 7)He wrote several plays, but his best work is a group of four long poems entitled Four Quartets, written between 1935 and 1941, which led to his receipt of the Nobel Prize in 1948 and made him one of the most distinguished literary figures of the 20th century.

20 II. His works: 1.Poetry 1)Eliot’s early poetical works—Prufrock and Other Observations (1917), Poems (1920), and The Waste Land (1922)—employing myths, religious symbolism, and literary allusion, signified a break with 19th-century poetic traditions, express the anguish and barrenness of modern life and the isolation of the individual, particularly as reflected in the failure of love. Their models were the metaphysical poets, Dante, and French Symbolists. Their meter ranged from the lyrical to the conversational. 2)his later poetry, notably Ash Wednesday (1930) and the Four Quartets (1935–42), Eliot turned from spiritual desolation to hope for human salvation.

21 2.Eliot was an extraordinarily influential critic, rejecting Romantic notions of unfettered originality and arguing for the impersonality of great art. His later criticism attempts to support Christian culture against what he saw as the empty and fragmented values of secularism. His outstanding critical works are contained in:  The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (1933)  Essays Ancient and Modern (1936)  Notes towards a Definition of Culture (1948). 3. His plays attempt to revitalize verse drama and usually treat the same themes as in his poetry. The most important is:  Murder in the Cathedral (1935), dealing with the final hours of Thomas a Becket.

22 III. His Style of Poetry: 1)Eliot attempted to produce “pure imagery” with no added meaning or symbolism. 2)He began adding one image to another in such a way that his attitude and mood became clear. In his best works, the image, his own philosophy and the music of words are all harmoniously blended although he mingled grand images with commonplace ones and combined trivial and tawdry images with traditional poetic subjects. 3)Eliot rarely made his meaning explicit. The internal logic of his poems is carried out by swiftly accumulating images, suggestions and echoes, depending for their interpretation upon the imagination of the reader.

23 三、 Wallace Stevens 1879-1955 Anecdote of the Jar ( p189 )

24 四、 Williams Carlos Williams 1883-1963 The Red Wheelbarrow ( p191 )

25 五、 Robert Frost 1874-1963 ① Fire and Ice ② Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening ③ The Road Not Taken (p194)

26 Best Wishes

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