Modernism and English Literature



hello I am Rajesh Sharma an assistant professor of English at Vasant Kanyama Badal a come-up cha affiliated to Banaras Hindu University today I shall talk about modernism and English literature and how modernism has affected the 20th century literature modernism may be seen as a literary movement spanning the period from the last quarter of the 19th century in France and from 1890 in Great Britain and Germany to the start of the Second World War this is how the Oxford Companion to literature defines modernism but then modernism as a movement arose out of certain preconditions it has certain characteristics it has certain features that we shall look upon in this lecture basically if we talk about modernism it is characterized by a deliberate and often radical shift away from tradition I mean modernism tries to reject the past or the traditional past that all being proposed in the 19th and you can say 18th century it tries to differentiate itself from the traditional mode of narratives by using certain forms of expression that is also known as our garden but what was the lead of modernism why did it exist as a movement there were certain social and political backgrounds to it and the social and political backgrounds highlighted the important see of the idea of modernity that was being proposed and propounded by the theory of enlightenment if we look at the social features of the A's then we find that Queen Victoria's reign has come to an end in 1901 and in the field of Technology the Ford Motors they were establishing themselves as steel comes to the scene and propounds his theory of special relativity and more than that we find a world war a ma on a mass scale a violence on a massive scale coming to this world and then a Britain was going through certain internal disturbances like Easter Rising and Dublin and then we find a great effort by the humanity in the form of the establishment of League of Nations again Hitler comes to the power then there is a second world war atomic bombs are dropped on Japan and then again there is a hope in the form of an Apollo lands on the moon but did they give any kind of certainty to us what the Enlightenment people were talking about that manager rational being can apprehend and understand this natural phenomena – look – and all-knowing powerful creator next to God or even sometimes challenging the idea of God so modernism tries to study all these things on this phenomena of 18th and 19th century when man is seen as something who can replace the authority of God and that is why an issue in the form of irony and satire says that God is dead so modernism tries to take an example from such things where niche people like me she and just Arvind Karl Marx it went frantic where they are trying to inform us of our limitations and important see for example Charles Darwin in the field of biology gives us a new kind of theory where man human beings who were earlier taken by certain great like Bible as incarnation of God on earth and fallen angels could become uplifted angels but then he proved that we are driven by the same impulses as a lower animals are and this difficult means this proof difficult to reconcile with the idea of enabling spirituality in the field of economics and not only economics but even in sociology Karl Marx has done a lot he has presented as a political vision of the same proposition which Darwin has tried to do in the field of biology that the problems with the economic order were not transient the result of specific wrongdoers or temporary conditions were responsible for that and that there is a fundamental contradiction within the capitalist system in the capitalist system which was supposed to be an emancipatory kind of economic system and it was trying to be popularized in this world and then in the field of psychology Sigmund Freud comes and informs us that we as a human being are not as rational as we all have thought of and this mind through which we experience these experiences have not objective but subjective experiences which are based on the interplay of the parts of the mind and all subjective reality they are based on the play of basic drives instincts through which we all per se try to perceive the outside world and this means gave us and a kind of impetus that we must break with the past and a past which believed in the external and absolute reality so as far as a literary fields were concerned symbolism came as a movement in which the traditional mode of expressions were being questioned symbolism tried to inform about the incapacity of language as an as an expression or as a mode of expression he said we all know that symbolism tried to inform us that language is expressly symbolic in its nature Arthur Simon's who proposed this idea of symbolism and he has written a great book the symbolic moment in literature he says symbolism in literature is a form of expression at the best but approximate essentially but arbitrary for an answer reality apprehended by the consciousness so if language cannot adequately describe a thing of feeling or thought a symbol may be able to evoke it obliquely and stéphane mallarmé the representative put has used this technique very well and the other poets who found out that traditional mode of expression incapable of giving real expression to the to the demands of the ACE and they try to experiment with the narrative techniques TS Eliot tries to experiment with the mode of expression in his great epic poem The Waste Land where he used the free verse technique which is also known as vers Libre verse which departs from regular patterns of rhythm and rhyme is what you can or we can call a free verse the modernist poets wanted to abandon the artificial and ornamental in verse argued that free verse enables them to write poetry whose rhythms were closer to the petals of a speech in the field of novel stream-of-consciousness technique was adopted a technique which was earlier invented or coined by William James in his book principles of psychology it was a technique in which the individual's point of view was given an importance the novelist tries to look into the past the present the future at the same time thus rejecting the idea of chronological narration this technique was means characterized by associative leaps in syntax and punctuation and interior monologue is distinguished from dramatic monologue in which the speaker addresses to himself or to his own mind and the Enlightenment which focused upon the individual also rejected the idea of meta-narrative but then people like Tia cilia try to highlight this kind of description and narration through the experimental technique in which they borrowed from other cultures also modernist literature is a has certain characteristics like open and experimental form discontinuity juxtaposition intertextuality classical illusions it moves away from the bondage of realist literature it introduced concept such as disjointed timelines it is distinguished by emancipatory meta-narrative it moves away from romanticism and the examples are the love song of jail free prufrock the wasteland in the field of poetry and Ulysses in the field of drama and the common motif in modernist fiction has been the alienated individual there is no hero there is no central plot central story and there is a concern for larger factors such as social or historical change virginals mrs. de Lobo is one of the examples for that social norms and cultural sureties are broken down there is a dislocation of meaning and sense from its normal context there is a rejection of history and mythical past is rather highlighted so now alienation of the individual and the artists society has fractured and culture as fragment are highlighted there are questionings of the value of cultural norms so this is how we look at it because ultimately it was a literature of the urban phenomena in which city becomes the center but in an ironical manner there is a disillusionment which arises from the ad from the sense of discovery something which means which was earlier anticipated comes out not to be I will end my lecture here by the conclusion of James was by a statement of James yes from a portrait of the artist as a young man I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself form my fatherland or my church and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as Holy as I can using for my defense the only arms I allow myself to use silence exile and Connie thank you very much

13 thoughts on “Modernism and English Literature

  1. Very good attempt sir.. keep it up..don't feel nervous u can rock…

  2. This video so helpful for English literature students.. Thanks sir

  3. ulyssess in the field of novel…….well very informative for the beginners of understanding modernist literature

  4. Great job man, you'll be on my works cited page for certain.

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