Literary tendencies Essay Example

Literary tendencies Essay

A. The modernist period in literature began at the end of the nineteenth century, and ended in the second half of the twentieth century. One important feature of modernism is the transition from the Victorian belief in the popularity the art, to an elitist construction of art, and a propensity for the complex and sophisticated. A related characteristic is the tendency towards cultural despair, as opposed to the optimism of the Victorian Age.

“Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. […]I It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.”(James Joyce, The Dead)

B.  Postmodernism followed immediately after modernism, and is still the main literary movement at present. Its most important features are: the idea that the author no longer controls the literary piece and the fact that there can be no stable interpretation for the text, that is, the text is reduced to its rhetorical frame.

“I also was tired of learning and reciting poems in praise of daffodils, and my relations with the few ‘real’ English boys and girls I had met were awkward.”(Jean Rhys, The Day They Burned the Books)

C. Postmodernism is akin to modernism in that it defies tradition and tends to cultural despair. Postmodernism however, tends towards a total relativism where no truth can be found, and it totally effaces the writer’s authority over the text which was typical of modernism.

“Fiction here is likely to contain more truth than fact. Therefore I propose, making use of all the liberties and licences of a novelist, to tell you the story of the two days that preceded my coming here—how, bowed down by the weight of the subject which you have laid upon my shoulders, I pondered it, and made it work in and out of my daily life.”( Virginia Wolf, A Room of One’s Own)

“You’re not English; you’re a horrid colonial.” “Well, I don’t much want to be English.”. . . Then I was too killingly funny, quite ridiculous. Not only a horrid colonial, but also ridiculous. Heads I win, tails you lose — that was the English. ( Jean Rhys, The Day They Burned the Books)

D. The main features of post-colonial literature are: its focus on race differences and on the way in which race and gender are represented in the text and the concern with identity and cultural clashes.

“I had discovered that if I called myself English they would snub me haughtily: ‘You’re not English; you’re a horrid colonial.”( Jean Rhys, The Day They Burned the Books)

E. The Anglo- Saxon period lasted from the fifth century up to the 1100. The hero in this period was usually and allegoric character, who posses some outstanding features, like justice or leadership abilities, and follows a strict code of honor. The Medieval period lasted from around the 1100 to the fourteenth century. Its heroes were mostly religious characters or knights, and they either served courtly love or a religious ideal. The Romantic era covered the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The Romantic hero is essentially of a melancholic disposition, in search of a metaphysical, Platonic ideal, such as pure beauty or immortality.

“Famed was this Beowulf: far flew the boast of him,/on of Scyld, in the Scandian lands/So becomes it a youth to quit him well[…]/come warriors willing, should war draw nigh/liegemen loyal: by lauded deeds

shall an earl have honor in every clan/Forth he fared at the fated moment,/sturdy Scyld to the shelter of God.”( Beowulf)

“The knight took a step toward/The maiden; she called him forward;/Near the bed he sat down, near.

“Lanval,” she said, “my friend, my dear,/I left my lands to come where you are;/To find you I have come so far!/Be valiant and courtly in everything,/And no emperor, count or king/Ever had joy or blessings above you;”(Marie de France, Lanval)

“Though nothing can bring back the hour/ Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower;/We will grieve not, rather find / Strength in what remains behind/  In the primal sympathy/ Which having been must ever be;” (William Wordsworth, Ode- Intimations of Immortality)

F. Victorian Literature is mainly characterized by its tendency towards realism and the portrayal of Victorian society in the context of the Industrial Revolution and technological developments. From this, another major feature of Victorian poetry and prose was derived: the Victorians believed that poetry should be picturesque and that it should do its best at describing reality in the same manner as a painting would.

“What’s done is done, and she is dead beside,/Dead long ago, and I am Bishop since,/ And as she died so must we die ourselves /And thence ye may perceive the world’s a dream.”(Browning, The Bishop Orders His Tomb)

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