Background for Topics 41-44: American Modernism (1920s - 30s).
M o d e r n i s m ( 1 9 2 0 s – 3 0 s )
H i s t o r i c a l B a c k g r o u n d ( W W I + )
- the infl. of politics upon the arts: GB ceases to be the foremost colonial power, loses colonies, and evokes a colonial sensibility in lit.
- the infl. of WW I: a global impact, introd. the themes of depression, frustration, and inability to return to a non-military life – the novels of E. Hemingway, e. e. cummings, & oth.
- a rise of secularism, a turn away from the fixed beliefs, and a new belief in the ability of scientists and artists to replace church in explaining the reality
- artists, critics, and theologians attempt to come to terms with scientific inventions and with the theories of C. Darwin, S. Freud, and Karl Jung
=> the relativity of culture
M o d e r n i s t L i t e r a t u r e
- prominent shortly before WW I and during the inter-war period
- reject the previous modes of culture and dismisses the establ. lit. styles
- experiments in form and style:
(a) prose: low life themes, non-mimetic [= indirect] repres. of reality, complexity in terms of plot, and conc. with the language, how to use it, and with writing itself
(b) poetry: no more romantic, prophetic, beautiful, and flowery x but: sceptic, inventive, and original
- breaks away from establ. rules, traditions, and conventions to explore new fresh ways of looking at man’s position and function in the universe
- many authors dissatisfied with the development of the Am. culture >> chose to become lit. expatriates in the Eur. culture: G. Stein, T. S. Eliot, and E. Pound
=> each of the above gave impulses to innovate lit. and language x but: with a different approach
I m a g i s m ( 1 9 1 0 s )
- orig. inspired by T. E. Hulme (1908), initiated and promoted by E. Pound
- prominent immediately before WW I
- the image based poetry:
(a) insists on a hard and clear image
(b) direct, mimetic, photography-like treatment of the theme
(c) condensed, as short as possible, no extra words
(d) the language of everyday speech, no abstract phrases
(e) attentive to the rhythm, musical, not metrical
(f) a complete freedom in subject matter
> Des Imagistes (1914): the 1st imagist anthology
- the manifesto got assimilated into Am. poetry soon, important until now
V o r t i c i s m ( 1 9 1 0 s )
- orig. inspired by the painter and writer Wyndham Lewis’s (1912) magazine the Blast [= ‘wind blast’ or ‘explosion’], initiated and promoted by E. Pound
- the name: from vortex [= ‘whirl’], the symbol of high energy and movement
- resembles action and movement
- connects the poetry with the cubist painting
Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. New York: W. W. Norton, 1995.
Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.
Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. Lexington: D. C. Heath, 1994.
McQuade, Donald, gen.ed. The Harper American Literature. New York: Harper & Collins, 1996.
Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.
Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.
Flajšar, Jiří. Semináře: Americká literatura 2. ZS 2004/05.