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The statement “Modern British literature can be understood as a body of texts that highlights the theme of internationalisation” raises the question of how the theme of internationalisation is presented in modern British literature. This essay will explore the idea of internationalisation and how it is portrayed in selected works of modern British literature, including poetry, novels, and manifestos.

The theme of internationalization in modern British literature refers to the representation of the diverse cultural, linguistic, and geographical perspectives that emerged from the globalizing world of the 20th century. This theme reflects the growing awareness of interconnectedness, interdependence, and hybridity among different societies, nations, and cultures. Internationalization is expressed in modern British literature through various literary devices such as cosmopolitanism, travel, migration, diaspora, intertextuality, and translation. These devices enable writers to explore the complexities of cultural encounter, negotiation, and transformation in the modern world. The theme of internationalisation is evident in many modernist texts. For instance, in his poem “Loveliest of Trees,” A.E. Housman reflects on the transience of life and the beauty of nature. The speaker in the poem expresses a desire to “see cherry hung with snow” and “the apples bent with snow,” suggesting a love of natural beauty that transcends national boundaries. Similarly, in Thomas Hardy’s poem “Neutral Tones,” the speaker reflects on a failed relationship and the universal experience of emotional pain. The poem’s stark imagery and detached tone suggest a sense of isolation that transcends national or cultural boundaries. 

Another way in which internationalisation is explored in modern British literature is through the depiction of cultural exchange. This can be seen in the works of writers such as William Butler Yeats and Siegfried Sassoon, who draw on a range of cultural references and allusions in their poetry. Yeats, for instance, in “An Irish Airman Foresees his Death,” draws on Irish mythology to reflect on the themes of sacrifice and national identity. Sassoon, on the other hand, in “Glory of Women,” critiques the romanticization of war and the toxic masculinity that was prevalent during the First World War. Both works demonstrate how modern British literature engages with cultural diversity and highlights the importance of cultural exchange. Internationalisation is also explored in modern British literature through the critique of imperialism and colonialism. This is particularly evident in works such as the Manifesto of Futurism by Tommaso Marinetti, which critiques the cultural and political hegemony of European nations. Similarly, in “Are You Digging on My Grave” by Thomas Hardy, the speaker reflects on the legacy of colonialism and the displacement of indigenous cultures. These works, along with others such as “Anthem for Doomed Youth” by Wilfred Owen and Cities in Modernist Literature by Katherine Mullin, highlight the tensions and conflicts that arise from the process of globalization and cultural exchange.

Not only in these works, but also in modernist novels, such as Virginia Woolf’s “Mrs Dalloway” for example, the novel’s fragmented narrative structure reflects the fragmentation of modern life, as characters move through the streets of London encountering people from different social classes and cultural backgrounds. The novel’s stream-of-consciousness technique also reflects the interconnectedness of human experience, as characters’ thoughts and memories flow together in a continuous stream. The idea of internationalisation is also evident in critical works that explore modernist literature. For instance, Katherine Mullin’s “Cities in Modernist Literature” examines how modernist writers portrayed urban spaces as sites of cultural exchange and interaction. Similarly, Randall Stevenson’s “Broken Mirrors: the First World War and modernist literature” examines how modernist writers responded to the trauma of World War I and the impact of the conflict on individual and collective identity.

In conclusion, the theme of internationalisation is a prominent feature of modern British literature. This essay has explored this idea through a range of texts, including poems, novels, and critical works, highlighting the various ways in which modernist writers responded to the theme of internationalisation. Through this exploration, we gain a deeper understanding of the cultural and historical context that produced modern British literature, and the ways in which it continues to shape our understanding of the world today.

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