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MODERNISM - MODERNIST POETRY

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MODERNISM


The term "modernism" refers to a powerful international movement reaching all western cultures. Originated at the beginning of the century in a period of deep social and intellectual change, Modernism dominated the sensibility and aesthetic choices of the great artists of the age. It influenced literature as well as other arts and implied a break with traditional values and 555j93f moral, it was a rejection of Naturalism and Decadentism in favour of introspection, due to the studies in psychology of Sigmund Freud, and technical skill. Artists broke with the recent past, broke with Romanticism and Positivism, they don't believe science could answer all their questions about life, so they broke with "shape", with limitations in space and time, thanks to the new ideas of Henri Bergson. All of them are aware that our perception of reality is uncertain, temporary and subject to change and know the impossibility to give a final or absolute interpretation of reality. All of them have the need to reflect the complexity of modern urban life in artistic form. All of them "feel" the intensity of the isolated moment or image to provide a true insight into the nature of things. In literature the isolation and the alienation of modern man became the main theme. The attention past writers gave to society now shifts on the man. Authors disregard a well structured plot: even the passing of a single day is enough to reveal a character because writers analyzed characters consciousness and thoughts as an emotional respons to external events. The themes are always the same: men can't communicate, they are aliens in their world. The way of writing changes: there are new methods to portray men's consciousness: the stream of consciousness and the interior monologue.



The stream of consciousness reproduces the uninterrupted flow of thoughts, sensation, memories, association and emotions as they flow in the characters'mind. This flow of thought is "written" throught the interior monologue which this regards logical transitions formal syntax and punctuation, only the sequence of thoughts as they flow in the character's mind. The most important writers of the period were: James Joyce; Virginia Wolf. In poetry, it's the same. Poets need to esperiment new forms of writing, sometimes with the choice of the violent language of everyday. They broke with Romanticism to adapt a free style. T.S. Elliot was the most important poet. In art, the most important expressions are in avant-garde movements: Cubism with Pablo Picasso who revolutioned the approach to space and its organization; Futurism; Expressionism with Edward Munch, Gauguin, Van Gogh, Vassily Kandinsky, Paul Klee; all of the tried to "express" their strong inner feelings. They put in evidence malaise, nihilisme, alienation of modern man, what Montale calls "Il Male Di Vivere".



MODERNIST POETRY




Poetry of the modern age was influenced by the sense of frustration and disillusionment of the early decades of the 20th century, as novel was. The new poets rejected tradition, but not tradition as a whole. In fact they were greatly indebted with the Italian Dolce Stil Novo (Dante; Petrarca) to the Elisabethian authors (Shakespeare; John Donne) and to the French symbolists. They were also profoundly attracted by eastern cultures. Poets like Ezra Pound and Thomas S. Elliot successfully combined all these heterogeneous elements into new meaningful poems. What these poets are really rejecting is Romanticism with its subjectivism, imagination, emphasis on emotions. They wanted to produce poetry which reflected the cold reality of the modern world. Poetry aimed at a combination of: precision, objectivity, accuracy and freer rythms. Both Elliot and Pound had little sympathy for popular taste. What they wrote was not intelligible or attractive for the majourity of the people. It was difficult and obscure, being full of references beyond the education of most readers. But it mirrored the sense of what modern life was like: fragmented, chaotic and without meaning.







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