Modern/Post Modern Period of British Literature - 1900-1980

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Content:

  • lonely individual fighting to find peace and comfort in a world that has lost its absolute values and traditions  
  • man is nothing except what he makes of himself  
  • a belief in situational ethics—no absolute values. Decisions are based on the situation one is involved in at the moment  
  • mixing of fantasy with nonfiction; blurs lines of reality for reader 
  • loss of the hero in literature
  • destruction made possible by technology

Genres/Styles:

  • poetry: free verse
  • epiphanies begin to appear in literature  
  • speeches  
  • memoir  
  • novels
  • stream of consciousness
  • detached, unemotional, humorless
  • present tense
  • magic realism

Effect:

  • an approach to life: “Seize life for the moment and get all you can out of it.”

Historical Context:

  • British Empire loses 1 million soldiers to World War I
  • Winston Churchill leads Britain through WW II, and the Germans bomb England directly
  • British colonies  demand independence

Key Literature/Authors:

  • James Joyce
  • Joseph Conrad
  • D.H. Lawrence
  • Graham Greene
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Nadine Gordimer
  • George Orwell
  • William Butler Yeats
  • Bernard Shaw

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