Modern Roman

· @tasali · ELIT403, Week 2-2

What exactly was modernism? What did it have and who influenced it?

Modernism is a result of many changes. After the industrial revolution, reason was the driving force. After the wars leading hopelessness and theories (Einstein, Newton, Freud, Jung) altering how existence is perceived, the literary movement followed along and rejected what led these changes in the first place.

Literature in formalism is regarded as craft. The idea is to feed the desire for creativity and originality. Modernist poetry often includes foreign languages, dense vocabulary and invented words.

Narrative continuity is broken up. Traditional syntax is violated. A conventional way of representing characters is abandoned.

Other features include;

  • Nostalgia for the past.
  • Lamentation for the loss of grand narratives.
  • The idea of stability, progress and religion is lost.

Most of the literary works of the Modern Age were influenced by the disillusionment (seeing without filters, i.e. with no understanding of afterlife) that came after the World War.

Irony, satire and comparisons are used frequently to illustrate points in regard to society. Corruption and decline in faith and values, which occurred in Modernism were not easily fixable.


  • Intentional distortion of shapes
  • Focus on form rather than meaning
  • Breakdown of social norms and cultural values
  • Dislocation of meaning and sense from its normal context
  • Disillusionment, frustration, disappointment, alienation
  • Rejection of history and the substitution of a mythical past
  • Need to reflect the complexity of modern urban life
  • Importance of the unconscious mind
  • Interest in the myths, primitive and non-western cultures
  • Impossibility of an absolute interpretation of reality
  • Overwhelming technological changes.
  • Negative impact of industrial and technological change
  • Internal and psychological crises
  • Relationship between time and consciousness
  • Personal dislocation
  • Moral dissolution, unable to adopt to harsh, cruel, pitiless materialist life.
  • Criticism of liberal ideology.

When I say modernism or modern fiction, I refer to the urbanization in 20th century. While some writers celebrated this event, some other did not. Those who did not also wanted to live a primitive life and longed for the past. Rather than objectivity, we have subjectivity.

Traditional notion of time changed. The time flowing on a straight line was replaced by time that is cyclical. Rootless or directionless because existence became a problem.

Personal dislocation has two different meanings: moving to urban life or being alienated.


  • Formal features of poetry
  • Open form
  • Use of free verse
  • Juxtaposition of ideas rather than consequential exposition
  • Intertextuality
  • Use of allusions and multiple association of words borrowings from other cultures and languages
  • Unconventional use of metaphor
  • Importance given to sound to convey โ€œthe music of ideasโ€

According to imagism, everything should be direct, concise.

Epiphany likes stream-of-consciousness.

Modernism Movements


Industrialization created machines. It sped up production exponentially. Vorticism inspired by these changes. Vorticist likes dynamism that came with industrial changes. It was not against the industrial changes.

Voriticists rejected the Victorian way of changes.


Futurists rejects cultural heritage of the past. They want to bring complete freedom to liberate literature. They want to use language as they wish. They celebrate technological advancements and the restlessness of modern life, which pushes people to created and innovate. They encourage original work


Expressionists are, rather than concrete, interested in how objects appear to mind, and expression of emotions, and feelings . They like exaggeration.


Dadaists are cynical and use satire because they think art doesnโ€™t reflect the beauty of life and it should be used to criticize. They are making fun of things and drawing attention to faulty aspects of life. They are against whatever gives rise to war. In their work, rationality is a thing of the past and they are interested in irrationality. They are also against the aesthetic movement because, to them, nothing is beautiful in the outside world.