Modernism and Modernist Literature

Christina Ortega March 30, 2013 Modernism and Modernist Literature Modernism is the movement in visual arts, music, literature, and drama which rejected the old Victorian standards of how art should be made, consumed, and what it should mean. The concept was what is reality? It used art and literature to replicate reality, and traditions cultivated in Romanticism and Victorianism. It was against all traditions. The Modernist Period in English Literature occupied the years from shortly after the beginning of the twentieth century through roughly 1965.

The period was marked by sudden and unexpected breaks with traditional ways of viewing and interacting with the world. Experimentation and individualism became virtues, where in the past they were often completely discouraged. In the world of art, generally speaking, Modernism was the beginning of the distinction between “high” art and “low” art. Still, the most effective poets and novelists did manage to make deep statements that were absorbed by the whole of society and not just the writer’s inner circles.

In Modernist literature, it was the poets who took fullest advantage of the new spirit of the times, and stretched the possibilities of their craft to lengths not previously imagined. In general, there was a disregard for most of the literary making of the last century. The following are characteristics of Modernism: • Marked by a strong and intended break with tradition. This break includes a strong reaction against established religious, political, and social views. • Belief that the world is created in the act of perceiving it; that is, the world is what we say it is. There is no such thing as absolute truth. All things are relative. • No connection with history or institutions. Their experience is that of alienation, loss, and despair. • Life is unordered. • Concerned with the sub-conscious. Ambrose Bierce, turn of the century California’s one of the most notorious writers. Ambrose was known as Bitter Bierce and his motto was “Nothing Matters”. Although; Bierce’s devastating short stories about the War Between the States–most particularly “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”.

The first page and a half during which the condemned, Peyton Farquhar, is yet unnamed offers a clear description of a military hanging: how it is done, who stands where and who gives the orders, how gentlemen are not excused from the noose. Farquhar, after his escape, his senses supernaturally alert, notices something that would have been commented upon in the camps of the Civil War: the gray eyes of a sharpshooter. He remembers that he’d heard all of the most famous sharp-shooters have gray eyes.

Then it turns out to be a mere dream of thought for Peyton. It was a sudden flash of what he would have wanted to happen. With the end of this story resulting in him seeing his wife at one last glance before the reality of his death. This story was written is a way that I the reader hadn’t quite was able to even distinguish that it was merely a dream of thought till the sudden death. The story was very vivid in detail and descriptive. Portrayed a sense of reality giving aspects of what could have happened.

Gave me the reader a moment of shock when figuring out it wasn’t real and he had actually been executed. In conclusion the entire story was a great example of a modernist story. Gave me a great example of how he wrote a short store making me determine the true reality of it. This modernist literature definitely made a social statement. Made you realize how we as people do this all the time. I’ve been in many situations where I can imagine another outcome yet, reality strikes and I realize its happening. Works Cited 1.

Lewis, Pericles. The Cambridge Introduction to Modernism. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007. Print. 2. Lorcher, Trent. “Modernism in Literature: What Are Characteristics of Modernism in Writing? ” Bright Hub Education. Bright Hub Education, 2 Mar. 2012. Web. 30 Mar. 2013. 3. Rahn, Josh. “Modernism. ” – Literature Periods & Movements. The Literature Network, 2011. Web. 30 Mar. 2013. 4. Stern, Jewel, Kevin W. Tucker, and Charles L. Venable. Modernism in American Silver: 20th-century Design. Dallas, TX: Dallas Museum of Art, 2005. Print.

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