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Contents:
  1. Modernism and Postmodernism
  2. MODERNISM IN ART
  3. The Modern and the Postmodern (Part 1)
  4. Mourning, Modernism, Postmodernism | T. Clewell | Palgrave Macmillan

Other aspects, such as rampant capitalism or instrumental reason, were condemned however, writers were, willy-nilly, enmeshed in the emerging market relations. Some moderns find solace in a glorified past. Others, refuse coherent meaning and representation in the face of unacceptable reality.

Fiction is for many writers a bulwark against soulless utilitarianism. Modern writers give primacy to form. This results in experimentalism, which breaks with 19 th century realist conventions. Modernism celebrates unreliable or even split narrators. The modern narrator tends to be the main protagonist of the story. His or her personal involvement in the events usually precludes objectivity. Narrators habitually cheat readers, conceal certain events, or change from person to person. The modern narrator has none of the authority of his or her realist counterparts. Modern fiction often explores the theme of identity, which is more fluid and unstable than in pre-modern literature.

Modern fiction privileges interiority over exteriority, a good example of which is the hallmark of modern literature — the stream of consciousness. The human form was conceived as the accumulation of earlier evolutionary stages. Some modern writers played with the idea that all of the evolutionary past was contained in the present human form.

In , time zones were proposed at the International Meridian Conference due to the fact that telegraph and trains connected previously separated corners of the world.

Modernism and Postmodernism

Awareness of different time zones further eroded the linear sense of time. Bergson understood time as an accumulation of all the previous moments in a body with intentions directed towards the future. This psychological concept of time influenced many modern writers, such as Virginia Woolf or James Joyce, who used the stream of consciousness in an attempt to represent the wanderings of the mind, which jumps randomly between different events in the past, fragments of the present, and expectations towards the future.

Subjective time and the relativity of memory are celebrated rather than the linear sense of time that was typical of 19 th century realism. Modern scientific theories are seen as fragmented, subjective, and particular — there is no one absolute and correct way of describing the world. These insights influenced modern fiction which is highly subjective. Late modernity witnessed a rapid technological progress. Technology was either celebrated by moderns futurists or criticised as degrading to humans.

MODERNISM IN ART

The metaphor of machine was often used to describe the condition of workers under capitalism. To some authors, workers were nothing more than an appendix to machines. The human body was also depicted as a machine by Taylorism, whose aim was to subdue the body and to render it as efficient as possible. External objects are only relevant insomuch as they are perceived and invested with meaning by the protagonist.

Metafiction may draw attention to style. This may result in an idiosyncratic language, which requires a great deal of interpretative effort on the part of the reader. Postmodernity refers to the historical period after the Second World War, although in many cases not immediately after. It was marked by an array of social and historical phenomena, which shaped our contemporary world, such us advanced capitalism, globalisation, and rapid technological progress.

The Modern and the Postmodern (Part 1)

In a British context, postmodernity has its own historical particularities. After the war, labour shortages prompted Great Britain to invite workers from its former colonies, which resulted in the multicultural society we know today. Postmodern texts are usually written in clear, everyday language, even though their structure can be quite complex. Calvino used the metaphor of a diamond to reflect his writing practice — the language is crystal clear but the structure is multi-faceted and fragmented.

Modernism vs. Postmodernism

Postmodern texts tend not to engage in innocent, linear story-telling. Similarly to modern works, they draw attention to their status as fiction and the act of writing or reading. Unlike modernism though, postmodern texts refers both to themselves and the external world. Protagonists are often aware that they are in fiction. Postmodernism works by multiplication — multiple narrators, perspectives, or takes on the same story.

This represents postmodern skepticism towards single, unitary, and totalizing narratives which cannot account for a variety of social experiences. Whereas modernism focuses on interiority and psychological, postmodernism recovers the preoccupation with the external and the construction of worlds. Postmodernism uses pastiche, black humour, and parody in order to contest traditional literary conventions.

Mourning, Modernism, Postmodernism | T. Clewell | Palgrave Macmillan

Postmodernism exists in a state of permanent paradox: parody draws strength from conventions and subverts them at the same time. The relationship between various texts. It can be achieved by mentioning, quoting, or parodying other texts. Intertextuality is by no means unique to postmodernism, but in this period this literary device is extensively used. Postmodern writers tend to challenge hegemonic values, such as heteronormativity, imperialism, and traditional conceptions of femininity and masculinity. They were, among others:. The questioning of heteronormative values in Britain was made possible by such socio-historical conditions as the trauma of the Second World War, decline of empire, and shifts in economic models.

With the dissolution of empire emerged a number of prominent writers who challenged imperialism and British hegemony. The dominance of the British publishing scene by white male authors was slowly contested by subaltern voices. Women also gained more visibility. With the shift from product economy to service economy, women could find a job more easily than men, thus gaining economic independence.


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Postmodernity gave rise to different forms of feminism. A range of prominent homosexual authors, such as Joe Orton, gained prominence.

Past Films

Postmodernism is skeptical of grand theories and narratives. History, for instance, is deemed by many postmodern writers as a narrative constructed for certain purposes, which are not innocent such as glorification of a nation. Every historical narrative involves a process of selection, editing, and interpretation on the part of the author, and thus cannot be objective. Postmodern writers frequently recover forgotten histories of marginalized people.

Realism attempts to sustain the illusion that the narrated world is a plausible version of the one we live in. You can think of realist narration as a transparent window through which the reader looks at the narrated world in contrast, modern and postmodern windows either distort the narrated world or draw attention to the frames.

Realism works as a tacit agreement between writer and reader; the former does everything to sustain the illusion of reality and the latter suspends disbelief. Underpinning realism is the conviction that the world can be described in an objective manner.


  1. Mourning, Modernism, Postmodernism | T. Clewell | Palgrave Macmillan.
  2. Modernism and Post-Modernism History.
  3. Modernism and Postmodernism;
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  7. Modernism and postmodernism lose this faith in objectivity, and they focus instead on subjective modes of narration. Modern writers disagree with realist ones the real world can be merely translated, transmitted or reflected — every act of writing is essentially creating a new world.


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    Modernism rejects realist conventions, such as detailed descriptions or the third-person impartial narrator. Both modernism and postmodernism recognize that the fictional world is mediated through frames particular narrative choices which are always subjective. Postmodern writers argue that every reading of a work of fiction creates a different version of the text in the minds of readers, as every interpretation is unique. This multiplicity of texts goes against the impartiality and singularity of vision that realist writers believed in.

    According to realism, the fictional world exists in its entirety and is analogous to the real world. Postmodern writers object to these views for the following reasons:. As a fictional world cannot exist outside of language, only things that are described by the narrator exist in a fictional world.