Overview of Modern Literature

Overview of Modern Literature

Overview of Modern Literature

Modern Literature : Dear readers when we learn the modern literature in English we have to understand the concept of modernism. The term modernism describes the modernist movement in the arts; it is set of cultural tendencies and associated with cultural movements. The traditional forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social organization and daily life ware becoming superannuated by the development of fully industrialized world.

A bird’s eye view of the modernism

The modernist movement begin at 20thcentury marked first time that the term avant – garde. During this period, society at every level underwent profound changes. War and industrialization seemed to devalue the individual. Global communication made the world a smaller place. The pace of change was dizzying. Writers responded to this new world in a variety of ways. One of the most visible changes of this period was the adaptation of new technologies like electricity, the telephone, the radio into the daily life of ordinary people.

Modern Literature

Modern literature emerged in the late 19th and early 20thcenturies, mainly in Europe and North America. The modern literature emerged against the ideology of realism and developed new forms from old traditional forms such as incorporation, rewriting, recapitulation, revision, and parody. Modernism also rejects the lingering certainty of Enlightenment thinking. It tried to disconnect Romanticism from its roots in idealism in order to transport it inside empiricism. Simply said “make it new” is the idea of modernist. Modern literature is characterized by a self – conscious break with traditional style of poetry and verse. Juxtaposition, irony, comparisons and satire are important elements found in modern writings. Modern authors used impressionism and other devices to emphasize the subjectivity of reality. Experimentation is one of the defining qualities of Modernist literature

Characteristics of Modern Literature


In Modernist literature, the individual is more interesting than society. Specifically, modernist writers were fascinated with how the individual adapted to the changing world. In some cases, the individual triumphed over obstacles. For the most part, Modernist literature featured characters who just kept their heads above water. Writers presented the world or society as a challenge to the integrity of their characters. Ernest Hemingway is especially remembered for vivid characters that accepted their circumstances at face value and persevered.


Modernist writers broke free of old forms and techniques. Poets abandoned traditional rhyme schemes and wrote in free verse. Novelists defied all expectations. Writers mixed images from the past with modern languages and themes, creating a collage of styles. The inner workings of consciousness were a common subject for modernists. This preoccupation led to a form of narration called stream of consciousness, where the point of view of the novel meanders in a pattern resembling human thought.


The carnage of two World Wars profoundly affected writers of the period. Several great English poets died or were wounded in the First World War. At the same time, global capitalism was reorganizing society at every level. For many writers, the world was becoming a more absurd place every day. The mysteriousness of life was being lost in the rush of daily life. The Holocaust of the Second World War was yet more evidence that humanity had taken a wrong turn.


The Modernist writers infused objects, people, places and events with significant meanings. They imagined a reality with multiple layers, many of them hidden or in a sort of code. The idea of a poem as a riddle to be cracked had its beginnings in the Modernist period. Symbolism was not a new concept in literature, but the Modernists’ particular use of symbols was an innovation. They left much more to the reader’s imagination than earlier writers, leading to open-ended narratives with multiple interpretations.


Writers of the Modernist period saw literature more as a craft than a flowering of creativity. They believed that poems and novels were constructed from smaller parts instead of the organic, internal process that earlier generations had described. The idea of literature as craft fed the Modernists’ desire for creativity and originality. Modernist poetry often includes foreign languages, dense vocabulary and invented words. The poet e.e. cummings abandoned all structure and spread his words all across the page.

Modern writers

  • Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)
  • Anna Akhmatova (1889-1966)
  • Gabriele d’Annunzio (1863-1938)
  • Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918)
  • H. Auden(1907-1973)
  • Djuna Barnes (1892-1982)
  • Samuel Beckett (1906-1989)
  • Gottfried Benn (1886-1956)
  • Bertolt Brecht(1898-1956)
  • Alexander Blok (1880-1921)
  • Menno ter Braak (1902-1940)
  • Hermann Broch (1886-1951)
  • Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986)
  • Basil Bunting (1900-1985)
  • Ivan Cankar (1876-1918)
  • Mário de Sá-Carneiro (1890-1916)
  • Constantine P. Cavafy (1863-1933)
  • Joseph Conrad(1857-1924)
  • Hart Crane (1899-1932)
  • E. Cummings (1894-1962)
  • Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis (1839-1908)
  • Alfred Döblin (1878-1957)
  • D. (Hilda Doolittle) (1886-1961)
  • S. Eliot (1888-1965)
  • Ralph W. Ellison (1914-1994)
  • William Faulkner (1897-1962)
  • M. Forster (1879-1971)
  • Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
  • Robert Frost (1874-1963)
  • Carlo Emilio Gadda (1893-1973)
  • Knut Hamsun (1859-1952)
  • Jaroslav Hašek (1883-1923)
  • Ernest Hemingway (1899-1961)
  • Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929)
  • Max Jacob (1876-1944)
  • David Jones (1895-1974)
  • James Joyce (1882-1941)
  • Franz Kafka (1883-1924)
  • Georg Kaiser (1878-1945)
  • Miroslav Krleža (1893-1981)
  • Federico García Lorca (1898–1936)
  • Clarice Lispector (1920-1977)
  • Mina Loy (1882-1966)
  • Leopoldo Lugones (1874-1938)
  • Hugh MacDiarmid (1892-1976)
  • Osip Mandelstam  (1891 – 1938)
  • Thomas Mann (1875-1955)
  • Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923)
  • Robert Musil (1880-1942)
  • Vladimir Nabokov (1899-1977)
  • Pablo Neruda (1904-1973)
  • Yone Noguchi (1875-1947)
  • Aldo Palazzeschi (1885-1974)
  • John Dos Passos (1896-1970)
  • Boris Pasternak (1890-1960)
  • Fernando Pessoa (1888-1935)
  • Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936)
  • Katherine Anne Porter (1890-1980)
  • Ezra Pound (1885-1972)
  • John Cowper Powys (1872-1963)
  • Klaus Rifbjerg (born 1931)
  • Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
  • Wallace Stevens (1875-1955)
  • Italo Svevo (1861-1928)
  • Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)
  • Ernst Toller (1893-1939)
  • Federigo Tozzi (1883-1920)
  • Paul Valéry (1871-1945)
  • Robert Walser (1878-1956)
  • Nathanael West (1903-1940)
  • William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
  • Frank Wedekind (1864-1918)
  • Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)
  • Lu Xun (1881-1936)

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