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Modernism, in the arts, a radical break with the past and the concurrent

search for new forms of expression. Modernism fostered a period of

experimentation in the arts from the late 19th to the mid-20th century,
particularly in the years following World War I.

In an era characterized by industrialization, rapid social change, and

advances in science and the social sciences (e.g., Freudian theory),
Modernists felt a growing alienation incompatible with Victorian morality,
optimism, and convention. New ideas in psychology, philosophy, and political
theory kindled a search for new modes of expression.

The enormity of the war had undermined humankind’s faith in the foundations
of Western society and culture, and postwar Modernist literature reflected a
sense of disillusionment and fragmentation. A primary theme of T.S. Eliot’s
long poem The Waste Land (1922), a seminal Modernist work, is the search
for redemption and renewal in a sterile and spiritually empty landscape. With
its fragmentary images and obscure allusions, the poem is typical of
Modernism in requiring the reader to take an active role in interpreting the

The publication of the Irish writer James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922 was a
landmark event in the development of Modernist literature. Dense, lengthy,
and controversial, the novel details the events of one day in the life of three
Dubliners through a technique known as stream of consciousness, which
commonly ignores orderly sentence structure and incorporates fragments of
thought in an attempt to capture the flow of characters’ mental processes.
Portions of the book were considered obscene, and Ulysses was banned for
many years in English-speaking countries. Other European and American
Modernist authors whose works rejected chronological and
narrative continuity include Virginia Woolf, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein,
and William Faulkner.

In the second half of the 19th century and the early decades of the 20th century, both natural and social
sciences in Europe had enormously advanced.
World war I was the first war in which modern and new technology was used:
aircrafts, missiles, tanks, new weapons, submarines etc.
World War I (often abbreviated as WWI or WW1), also known as the First World War or the Great
War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918.
Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars",[7] it led to the mobilisation of more than
70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in
history.It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants
and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the
resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

On 28 June 1914, Gavrilo Princip, a Bosnian Serb Yugoslav nationalist, assassinated the Austro-
Hungarian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, leading to the July Crisis.[12][13] In response, on
23 July Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia. Serbia's reply failed to satisfy the Austrians,
and the two moved to a war footing.

By July 1914, the great powers of Europe were divided into two coalitions: the Triple Entente—
consisting of France, Russia, and Britain (meaning "friendship, understanding, agreement)—and
the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy (the Triple Alliance was only defensive in
nature, allowing Italy to stay out of the war until April 1915, when it join the Allied Powers.


Free verse is a literary device that can be defined as poetry that is free from limitations of
regular meter or rhythm, and does not rhyme with fixed forms. Such poems are without rhythm
and rhyme schemes, do not follow regular rhyme scheme rules, yet still provide artistic
expression. In this way, the poet can give his own shape to a poem however he or she desires.
However, it still allows poets to use alliteration, rhyme, cadences, and rhythms to get the
effects that they consider are suitable for the piece.

Features of Free Verse

 Free verse poems have no regular meter or rhythm.

 They do not follow a proper rhyme scheme; these poems do not have any set
 This type of poems is based on normal pauses and natural rhythmical phrases,
as compared to the artificial constraints of normal poetry.
 It is also called vers libre, which is a French word meaning “free verse.”
How Modernism arose

Modern writers:

• break with the past

• reject literary traditions that seemed outmoded

• reject aesthetic values of their predecessors

• reject diction that seemed too genteel to suit an era of technological breakthroughs and
global violence

• break with Romantic pieties and clichés (such as the notion of the sublime) and become self-
consciously skeptical of language and its claims on coherence

Characteristics of Modern Poetry

• Stylistic experimentation and disrupted syntax

• Stream of Consciousness (a term coined by American psychologist William James to describe

the natural flow of a person’s thoughts)

• Theme of alienation: characters or speakers feel disconnected from people and/or

society/the world

• Focus on images

Free verse
Verse composed of variable, usually unrhymed lines having no fixed metrical pattern.

Discontinuous narrative
Discontinuous narrative -- a narrative style in which the narrative moves back and forth
through time. This particular style is usually associated with Modernist literature.

Juxtaposition is a literary device that is used as an important tool in Literature to bring a
dramatic effect to certain situations and thereby make more of a mark for the work of art
in its entirety.

Intertextuality refers to the way in which texts gain meaning through their referencing or
evocation of other texts.
Intertextuality forms one of the crucial grounds for writing studies and writing practice.
Texts do not appear in isolation, but in relation to other texts. We write in response to
prior writing, and as writers we use the resources provided by prior writers. When we
read we use knowledge and experience from texts we have read before to make sense
of the new text, and as readers we notice the texts the writer invokes directly and
indirectly. Our reading and writing are in dialogue with each other as we write in direct
and indirect response to what we have read before, and we read in relation to the ideas
we have articulated in our own writing.

Classical allusions
Allusion is a literary term, though the word also has come to encompass indirect
references to any source, including allusions in film or the visual arts. In literature,
allusions are used to link concepts that the reader already has knowledge of, with
concepts discussed in the story.

A metanarrative (from meta-grand narrative) is an abstract idea that is thought to be a
comprehensive explanation of historical experience or knowledge. According to John
Stephens it "is a global or totalizing cultural narrative schema which orders and explains
knowledge and experience".[1] The prefix meta- means "beyond" and is here used to
mean "about", and narrative is a story constructed in a sequential fashion. Therefore, a
metanarrative is a story about a story, encompassing and explaining other "little stories"
within totalizing schemes.
It is a broad term for literary techniques that break up the text of narrative

Thematic characteristics
Breakdown of social norms and cultural sureties
Dislocation of meaning and sense from its normal context
Valorization of the despairing individual in the face of an unmanageable future
Stream of consciousness
A term coined by William James in principles of psychology to denote the flow of inner
experience. it refers to depict the continuous thoughts and feelings which pass through
the mind
Overwhelming technological changes of the 20th Century