Modernism as an agent of change in literature


Modernism is the literary movement which introduced revolutionary changes in literature and was also reflected in socio-political behavior.

Modernism was reflected mainly in the building arts as well as in almost all art forms. The buildings constructed during the 1920s did not reflect traditional models of construction and art, in particular the paintings underwent various experiments. The land was also paved by American writers and artists. For example, Hemmingway’s Farewell to Arms provided a new plot as well as the hero of his novel with a tale not experienced so far. The same was true with Fitzgerald’s Great Gatsby, which featured new era moral and evenings of jazz music and dance that reflected much less of the Victorian celebrations and more of America’s roaring 1920s.

Not only these American writings, but also certain scientific, psychological and industrial developments in Europe contributed to the modernist movement. The rapid industrialization at the end of the 19th century changed the minds of people due to the implication of money and business over the morals of the time. So it was with scientific development which played a major role in the shaking up of England’s belief and value system. This was further aggravated by the introduction of the ideas of Sigmund Freud and Charles Darwin. Freud proposed a new psychological interpretation of dreams and relationships. Darwin’s theory of survival of the fittest has further increased the tension between the traditional belief system and modern man. These developments have shaken the foundations of a long established belief and value system. This socio-political change influenced literature and contributed to the initiation of the modernist movement.

The modernist movement questioned the meaning of faith and the system of moral values ​​that flowed from it and brought about revolutionary changes in literary productions, just as the arrival of the Renaissance made the human being the subject of literature more than mythological creatures and the romantic movement made nature a subject of poetry. Modernism introduced the preference for human wishes over the meaning of faith and gave the impression of a void of faith in the human world. The best examples have come from TS Eliot in The Waste Land and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”.

The modernist movement questioned the meaning of faith and the system of moral values ​​that flowed from it and brought about revolutionary changes in literary productions, just as the arrival of the Renaissance made the human being the subject of literature more than mythological creatures and the romantic movement made nature a subject of poetry

This was initiated primarily by Irish writer James Joyce and British writer Virginia Woolf writing Ulysses and To the Lighthouse respectively. But the roots had already been established through the writings of Joseph Konrad and Robert Frost. These writings reflected a deviation from the already accepted standards of literary writing. For example, Konrad’s novel Heart of Darkness offered a new storyline, storytelling, and storytelling plan. It was the same with Robert Frost in American poetry who experimented with a new type of poetry and its subject.

James Joyce’s work has been met not only with curiosity but also with resentment due to his utter rejection of the accepted mode of storytelling and modes of grammar and sentence arrangement. The most important experimentation was done by James Joyce by introducing the use of Stream of Consciousness. This allowed the writer to escape the usual restrictions and he was able to handle his story as he pleased and free him from the usual storytelling techniques of the Victorians. But Joyce’s book was received with great resentment and could gain popularity after a long time.

Also in England, Woolf used the Stream of Consciousness technique in his novels. For example, his novel at The Lighthouse is a very short story and revolves around several protagonists who are the protagonists of their own stories. These stories start, stop, and end as the writer sees fit. The main protagonist is a learned professor who is hungry for the love of his wife. His wife stays busy under the 12 pairs of eyes and her own psychologies and issues. Many characters are diverse in nature and have their own world to play in. For example, Lilly continues to paint a picture of her matron, but remains unable to finish until the end. This novel was also received with a similar lack of interest due to its different tones compared to Victorian fictional writing patterns. But however, he influenced people more easily than Joyce’s and quickly gained ground. The main stay of the novel was again Stream of Consciousness which had, like Joyce, offered the freedom to write and use the structure of the English language as well as the style with ease and comfort of the story and the plot. of the novel.

Thus, modernism, as a forerunner of postmodernism, established a world of literature based on the emptiness of faith and the freedom of the writing patterns of previous ages. Writers relied more on their memory and used Flashback and consciousness flow techniques. Writers could indulge in repetition of narratives and indulgence in the characters’ internal monologues. They also found freedom of expression and new experimentation in the stories. Writers could find freedom from structures and structural arrangements of sentences in English.

The author is Professor of English at Government Emerson University, Multan. He can be contacted at [email protected] and Tweets at @Profzee



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