The period from 1901-1939 is usually associated to the Modernist Period. The Victorian Period finished with the demise of Queen Victoria and an adjustment in the political dependability that her standard had ensured. Modernism reacts to fast changes in Western community, including urbanisation, the development of industry and the First World War. It is a troublesome term to describe, yet at its generally essential, it was a cutting-edge development in writing and workmanship that looked to split away from common social qualities, corporate greed, and the “sophisticated” artistic convention that went before it. Thus, this essay is going to analyse Modernist Period of England works while referring to the social cultural background and literacy occurrences.
Thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Ernst Mach and Sigmund Freud have greatly affected this movement. These authors challenged traditional forms of thinking that defined the individualism of the Modernist movement. The pessimism of modernism is partly the product of the destruction of World War I, which many authors personally experienced on the battlefield. Most of the modernist literature is actually the antimodern, which records modernity as a lost experience. The modernist artist was the critic of the art that preceded him/her and the culture he/she was in. At the heart of modernist art, it has been proven that the pre-continuing elements of human life, such as religious beliefs, social traditions and artistic beliefs, have been destroyed or are false or fragile. This sense of fragmentation led to a literature of myth, history, personal experience, or parts of previous art.
Although World War I had the greatest impact on many poets over time, some poets succeeded much earlier in this period. Thomas Hardy and A.E. Housman are two examples of that. Both wrote various war poems; Hardy captured the perspective and language of the soldiers as he detailed the horror of the Boer Wars and ultimately the First World War. An example of this is “The Man He Killed” (1902), two men in war regret hitting the other. Hardy comments in this poem that war can turn potential friends into enemies. Housman succeeded in writing with the publication of A Shropshire Lad (1896), a collection of sixty-three poems that captured a profound level of emotional vulnerability. After World War I, he began writing another collection of poems to commemorate those who died in the war.
The First World War is important because it was the first modern war. At the same time, when they were exposed to heavy debt for the UK, it created social, political and economic problems, and the USA started to emerge as a new national power. The First World War marked the beginning of a fall in Britain’s global status. The poem of time represents this and shows the profound pessimism of this post-war nation.
The First World War inspired many of the poems he wrote about the efforts of Britain, about his/her experiences and war supporters at home from the soldiers on the battlefield. Some of these poets, such as Wilfred Owen, Edward Thomas and Rupert Brooke, died on the battlefield. Brooke’s last network, “The Soldier” (1914), is the memory of a deceased soldier. This poem and several poems written by these soldier poets reflected on the death and achievements of those who fought in the war. For the survivors on the battlefield, such as Siegfried Sassoon, Ivor Guerney and Robert Graves, their experience had a direct impact on their poems. Often in their later work, they would compare the horror of war to the peaceful landscape of England, which they always knew.
Modernist writing is very self-reflexive, and poems written during this time were much shorter and relied more on free verse. In addition, many poets used the theory of imagism, which contains concise language and tries to capture an image in their writings.
Two of the most prolific among British poets of the Modern Period were not English-born writers. T. S. Eliot was an American-born English poet who was considered one of the most influential poets of the 20th century. His poems felt a necessary change to get away from the dreams of Romanticism. Eliot’s capacity to be delegated both an American and a British writer shows internationalism that portrays Modernism. There was no longer any need to limit the authors to a nation. One of his first well-known works was “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1915). This poem is an internal monologue and is narrated using a stream of consciousness. This technique is an attempt to inform readers’ thoughts and feelings in writing. Another of his famous poems is The Waste Land (1922). More information about Eliot can be found in American literary promotions.
Irish author William Butler Yeats was another noteworthy figure in Modernist verse. Despite the fact that Yeats’ underlies verse centered around Celtic qualities and the Irish past, strain encompassing the Irish progressives made Yeats compose all the more politically. His distribution of Easter (1916) indicated this change in disposition. This poem was composed as a reaction towards the Easter Rebellion, when a large number of Irish Republicans were murdered for their help of an Ireland independent of Great Britain. In this poem, he depicts the revolutionaries’ hearts as ardent like stone and in spite of the fact that he celebrates saints, he likewise chides the tenacity of the pioneers of the resistance. Maybe his most noteworthy assortment of poems is The Tower (1928), which contained renowned poems like “Leda and the Swan,” “Among School Children,” and “Cruising to Byzantium.” The last demonstrated Yeats’ reluctance to acknowledge his mature age and his dismissal of society’s set up jobs for the older.
Apart from these two poets, W.H. Auden also came to the fore in the Modernist period. He is famous for writing poetry on various topics such as love, politics, culture, psychology and religion. Each of his poems “Funeral Blues” (1936) and “September 1, 1939” (1939) is related to one of these themes. The latter of these poems mirrors Yeats’ poem Easter and focuses on the start of World War II. Like Yeats he discusses the historical failures of people involved in the conflict but looks ahead to potential reconciliation in the future. His poem “Funeral Blues” has an unknown narrator lamenting the death of someone close to him. He asks for complete silence while he mourns.
The fiction in this period passed to man as an isolated individual from his social focus. This change emphasized human thought processes and unconscious impulses. Despite this becoming a rising trend, there were still writers who still adhere to the traditional themes of the social class. It was E.M. Forster, an author encompassing both the Victorian and Modernist ideals. While most of his works discussed class and hierarchy in social status, he also showed an interest in individual values. His two best-known works are A Room with A View (1908) and A Passage to India (1924). The View Room tells the love story between Lucy Honeychurch and George Emerson. While Lucy feels obliged by the social class to marry her wealthy fiancé Cecil, she cannot finally deny the chemistry with signs that they are geared to be with George and be together. The migration of Forster to India comprises of four characters: Doctor Aziz, Mister Cyril Fielding, Mistress Moore and Ms. Adela. While travelling to the Marabar Caves in India, Miss Adela believed that Aziz attacked her. The experiment reveals the racial relations of the time and the Indian independence movement that took place in the 1920s.
D.H. Lawrence’s novels focused on the relationships between classes. Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) novel is one of the most famous and controversial and discusses the relationship between a working-class man and a senior woman. Clifford Chatterley, who is husband of Lady Chatterley, was paralysed from the waist down. This, coupled with his emotional distance, leads Lady Chatterley to engage with game holder Oliver Mellors. This relationship helps Lady Chatterley understand that love requires both the mind and the body to be successful.
James Joyce was successful with his novel Ulysses (1922). Ulysses is divided into eighteen episodes, each with themes and characters related to Odyssey. Representing the novel, Telemachus, Odysseus and Penelope, Stephen Dedalus revolves round Leopold Bloom and Molly Bloom. Similar to Odysseus’ journey, Leopold is seen as a hero while travelling to Dublin. The fragmented and nonlinear subject of this novel was a common feature of fiction in the Modernist period. Joyce’s novel also refers to Greek and Roman mythology, another feature of Modernist writers.
Although women entered the literary arena, men still conquered the writing during this time. An exception was the novelist Virginia Woolf. Woolf wrote essentially about upper-middle class women and their duties. Virginia Woolf’s popular works include Lighthouse (1927), Mistress Dalloway (1925), a Room of Her Own (1929) and Orlando (1928). Mrs. Dalloway, the novel of Virginia Woolf, is narrated in a stream of consciousness and has two separate stories. The first one is Clarissa Dalloway, getting ready for her party, reflected in her youth and choice of a husband. Another story is about World War I veteran Septimus Smith, who suffered from hallucinations about war. This novel marked a move towards radical thinking due to the undertones of homosexuality between Clarissa and her childhood friend Sally. In One’s Own Room, Woolf investigates the role of women in fiction and overcomes the limitations women face while writing. In a section of the novel, Woolf creates a sister of Shakespeare to show that a woman with Shakespeare’s gifts will be deprived of the same opportunity and success.
Katherine Mansfield is considered one of the most significant short story writers in the Modernist era. Mansfield wrote on several topics such as social class, family relationships and social consequences from war. The short story “Dollhouse” (1922) examines how the classroom affects social relationships among children. When Burnell children are given a dollhouse, the elders do not allow a much poorer family to see him. When the youngest of the Burnell does not follow this classist behaviour, he is scolded. Mansfield uses child protagonists and class themes in other short stories such as “The Garden Party” (1922) and “The Girls of the Late Colonel” (1922).
Following the leadership of Victorian writers like H.G. Wells, writer Aldous Huxley wrote the dystopian novel Brave New World (1931) in the modernist era. The novel takes place in a futuristic London, where people stop thinking freely and are taught according to their roles in a caste system. Huxley also envisions improvements in reproductive technology and subconscious education.
To sum up, modernism consists of the latest styles and attitudes, as well as new ideas and practices. Modernism can be seen as a general open-minded way of thinking that allows individuals to progress and change the environment with the help of scientific knowledge and the latest technologies. The concept of formalism during the Modern Era deliberately calls attention to the natural flatness of the canvas in an artist’s work. Artists have exercised a uniquely modern trend, in which the viewer is not intended to appreciate the interpretation of anything, but the act of the painting itself.