What is fragmentation in postmodern literature?

What is fragmentation in postmodern literature?

 What is fragmentation in postmodern literature? : Fragmentation is a literary practice of the postmodern era. To fragment is to disintegrate, which is what the writers did to their themes and narratives. It was moving away from concepts of wholeness and conclusiveness and diving into interruptions, isolations, and instability. Time became less linear, the syntax was experimented with fonts, forms, mixed media, and characters were given their own stream of thoughts, often dispersed with the reality of past, future, or present.

What is fragmentation in postmodern literature?

The absence of space-time continuity was a reflection of the postmodern society. Fragmentation was also used in modernist literature, but authors of the modern age strived to discover a pattern out of fragments, hope out of chaos. The postmodernists ceased to look for order and embraced the chaos, freedom, and anarchy that came with the disillusionment of a war-stricken society. They rejected the unified self, anything authoritarian in nature and diffused their writings with multiplicity and relativity.

 Techniques of Fragmentation Used in Modernism

Modernism, which emerged out of an “immense panorama of futility and anarchy“, rightly represented in Klee’s painting, The Angel of History, found its radical expression in literature through the techniques of impressionism and subjectivity as exemplified in the stream-of-consciousness method against the conventional omniscient third person narrator.

Modernist literature did not employ continuous narratives, fixed points of view and clear cut moral positions. It employed the technical qualities like paradox, irony and ambiguity praised by the New Critics. Writers like Virginia Woolf and DH Lawrence wrote poetic prose and prosaic poetry.

These writers’ highlighted self-reflexivity and self-consciousness, employing fragmentation and collage as illustrated in The Waste Land. The constituent sections of The Waste Land: “The Burial of the Dead”, “A Game of Chess”, “The Fire Sermon”, “Death by Water” and “What the Thunder Said” are discontinuous in theme and reveal the fractured structure of the poem, testifying the fragmentation and disillusionment of the modern society, consequent of the devastating experiences of the World War I.

The mythical and multi-perspectival narrator, Tiresias, serves to connect the five disjoint sections in a unifying voice, echoing the modernist desire to find unity and coherence amidst apparent fragmentation.

The use of mythic method by TS Eliot, James Joyce, Eugene O’ Neill, WB Yeats and other emerges as a desperate attempt to give “shape and significance to the contemporary fragmented reality”. Such fragmentary technique is also employed by William Faulkner in The Sound and the Fury in the multiple ambiguous representation of the character Caddy.

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