Sunday, September 24, 2023

Modern Age (Twentieth Century English Literature) || Chapter VI

Chapter VIModern Age (Twentieth Century English Literature) || Chapter VI

Modern Age (Twentieth Century English Literature)

Modernism was a global movement that emerged in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and affected many different art forms, including literature, painting, music, and architecture. It was characterized by a rejection of traditional forms and conventions, and an exploration of new ways of representing the world.

In literature, the writers often experimented with new forms and techniques, such as stream of consciousness, to capture the complexity of the modern experience. The modern writers wrote about taboo subjects like lesbianism, gay, sex, etc. openly. Some of the key themes of modernist literature include alienation, fragmentation, and the loss of meaning. Since this century faced two World Wars, the writers wrote against war, violence, and barbarism, too.

The major figures of 20th century modernism include Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Franz Kafka, Marcel Proust and Ezra Pound. These writers helped to redefine the way poetry and fiction could be.

Features of Modern Literature

The major features of modern literature are as follows:

1. A break with traditional forms and conventions, such as linear plots, well-defined characters, and realistic settings

2. An exploration of new ways of representing the world, such as stream of consciousness, fragmentation, and multiple perspectives

3. A focus on the inner lives of characters, their thoughts and feelings, often at the expense of external action

4. A concern with the darker aspects of the human condition, such as alienation, despair, and violence

5. A self-awareness and skepticism about the role of language and art in society

Modern Novelists

a. Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf was an English writer known for her experimental novels, such as 'Mrs. Dalloway' and 'To the Lighthouse'. She was a pioneer of the stream-of-consciousness technique, which allows the reader to experience the thoughts and feelings of the characters in real time. Her other popular novels are ‘Orlando’, ‘The Waves’, and ‘Night and Day’.

b. D.H. Lawrence

D.H. Lawrence was an English novelist and poet known for his works that explored sexuality and the unconscious mind. His major novels are ‘Sons and Lovers’, ‘The Rainbow’ and ‘Lady Chatterley's Lover’.

c. James Joyce

Joyce experimented with a variety of techniques, including stream of consciousness, to explore the inner lives of his characters. His famous novels are ‘Ulysses’, ‘The Dead’ and ‘Finnegan’s Wake’.

d. H.G. Wells

H.G. Wells was an English writer known for his science fiction novels, such as ‘The Time Machine’ and ‘The War of the Worlds’. Wells was also a social critic, and his works often explored the impact of technology and science on society.

Modern Dramatists

a. George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and critic. His his plays often explored social and political issues. He delighted in showing the opposite of what his audience expected. His major novels are ‘Man and Superman’, The ‘Apple Cart’, ‘The Devil’s Disciple’, ‘Major Barbara’, and ‘Arms and the Man’.

b. Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde is best known for his plays ‘The Importance of Being Earnes’t and ‘Salome’. His plays often explored themes of love, loss, and social convention.

c. Samuel Beckett

Becket is considered as the grandmaster of a theatre of the absurd. His plays are despairing plays. His characters refuse to love and relationship with other people. His major dramas are ‘Waiting for Godot’ and ‘Krapp’s Last Tape’.

d. Harold Pinter

His plays often explore themes of power, violence, and the dark side of human nature. ‘The Caretaker’, No Man’s Land’ and ‘The Birthday Party’ are his important novels.

Modern Poets

a. W. B. Yeats

W. B. Yeats was an Irish poet. In his earlier days, he wrote poems about Ireland, its people, and traditions. In later days, his poems became more universal in theme. His major poems are ‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death’, ‘The Second Coming’ and ‘Sailing to Byzantium’.

b. T.S Eliot

Eliot is one of the pioneers of modern poetry. He was disturbed by the damage, loss of hope, and fragmentation caused by the World Wars. For him modern man is sexually impotent, hollow, fragmented, and destroyed. His renowned poems are ‘The Waste Land’, ‘Four Quarters’ and ‘The Hollow Man’.

c. W. H. Auden

Auden’s poems show concern for important political and social events. He wrote directly about political events and their effect on private lives. He also hated modern civilization that made humans like a machine without love and affection. In his poem ‘Museum of Fine Arts’, he shows how people are indifferent towards others’ suffering.

d. Rupert Brooke

He had a romantic and patriotic view on war. In his poem ‘Soldier’ he glorifies England and says that he will be proud even if he dies for England.

Development of English Language in the Twentieth Century

- The 20th century saw a rich and diverse use of language in modern literature.

- Writers used oblique and symbolic titles.

- Some writers broke the structural and punctuation rules.

- Abbreviations and twisted cyber language influenced the writing.

- The rise of mass media and technology led to the introduction of new words and phrases.

- The two world wars had a profound impact on the way people thought and spoke.

- The civil rights movement and other social movements led to the coining of new terms and the reclamation of old ones.

- The globalization of the economy and culture led to the mixing of different languages and dialects.

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