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British Literary History: The Modern Period. Essay Discusses Various Aspects Of Modernism By Studying Joyce's "Ulysses", Woolf's "To The Lighthouse" And Forster's "A Passage To Inida"

681 words - 3 pages

The Modernist movement was concerned with the accelerating pace of society toward destruction and meaninglessness. In the late 1800s many of society's certainties were undermined. Marx demonstrated that social class was created, not inherent; Freud boiled down human individuality to an animalistic sex drive; Darwin provided evidence that the Bible might not be literally true; and Nietzsche argued that even the most deeply-held ethical principles were simply constructions. Modernist writers attempted to come to terms with where humanity stood after its cornerstones had been pulverized. The movement sifted through the shards of the past looking for what was valuable and what could inspire construction of a new society.A common motif in Modernist fiction is that of an alienated individual--a dysfunctional individual trying in vain to make sense of a predominantly urban and fragmented society. In Romanticism language was transformative: the reader was transported by the poem. In ...view middle of the document...

Another connection with Bloom arises when he thinks of Mulligan as a usurper. This concept of betrayal is re-worked later when Bloom worries about his wife's affair with Boylan. Further to these points, the anti-semitism, which Haines reveals, also sets the scene for Bloom's entrance as the outsider as he is Jewish.Instead of chronicling the many things characters say and do to one another, Virginia Woolf concentrated on the innumerable things that exist beneath the surface of speech and action. Achieving this goal required the development of stream of consciousness. Throughout the novel, Woolf maintains a voice distinct and distant from those of her characters. The pattern of young James's mind, for instance, is described in the same lush language as that of his mother and father. It is more apt to say, then, that the novel is about the stream of human consciousness-the complex connection between feelings and memories-rather than a literary representation of it.In Forester's A Passage to India, the narration is written in third person. At the same time, however, the narrative withholds a full explanation of certain events, most notably the misadventures that befall Mrs. Moore and Adela Quested at the Marabar Caves. Indeed, in recounting these details, the narrator is ambiguous rather than omniscient. A degree of ambiguity also surrounds the depiction of certain characters. Often, relatively minor will appear in a scene without much introduction. Forster seems to take their presence for granted. This technique mimics the way that people might come and go in real life.Thus the hallmark of modern works is the visibility of the fragments that compose it. There are no finely-wrought connections, explanations, interpretations etc.,-no continuity or perspective or security. A typical modernist story will seem to begin arbitrarily, advance inexplicably, and end without resolution. Symbols and images are used instead of statements. Still, a lot of modernist stuff has a distinct coherence-the reader just has to dig for it. This makes for challenging and difficult reading, but in the end the reader may even be said to participate in the creation of the work. And the search for meaning becomes an end in itself rather than a means to an end-the purpose becomes the search rather than the thing sought after.

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