Basics of LiteratureLiterature

Modernism and Post-Modernism Characteristics

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Modernism and Post-modernism are the two major literary periods in English Literature, prevailed in the 20th century, challenged conventional literary styles and witnessed the annihilation of two World Wars (I, II).

The modernist period, started around the turn of 20th century, witnessed writers responding negatively to the Industrial Revolution and devastating effects of World War I. Their main goal was to create a completely new with much experimentation by merging psychoanalytical theory with creation of many new forms and styles. However, if we were to summarize the characteristics of modernism, we can write them as:

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  • focus on inner-self and consciousness
  • decline of civilization and effects of capitalism
  • alienation and loneliness of individual
  • first-person narrators
  • stream of consciousness
  • deviation from traditional structure of plot

modernism and postmodernism

Post-modernism, which started in late 20th century, after World War II, resulted in entirely new literary forms. In short, it is characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism and relativism. It reflects numerous traditional styles within one work. Some of the characteristics of Post-modernism as:

  • parody, paradox
  • fragmentation
  • interest in flattened emotions
  • collective experience, anonymously
  • self-reference
  • unreliable narrators

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Both modernist and post-modernist movements were similar in a way that both reject traditional values of literature, society etc.

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