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American Modernism: Key Representatives And Evolution

912 words - 4 pages

Modernism period in American literature is best described by the words of one of the most significant poets of the time — Ezra Pound, who famously exhorted Make it new. It was a period from the beginning of the XXth century until the start of the Second World War, when writers urged each other to apply new energy to established forms. Modernist authors covered various socially important topics such as race relations, gender roles, and sexuality. The period from the 1920s up to the 1940s is considered to be a peak of American Modernism.

Obviously, most of the themes covered by American modernism were inspired by the situation in real life, which wasn’t all that good. The first World War had a big impact on writer’s minds at the time — many American modernist authors explored the psychological wounds and spiritual scars of the war experience. Another issue that left a mark on American literature is the economic crisis in America at the beginning of the 1930s, as seen in John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath. Related to this is a problem of losing oneself and the need of self-definition as workers who lost their jobs had nothing to do in the big cities. In this sense it is important to mention in The Great Gatsby Fitzgerald illustrated an attempt to “build a self” — a theme which was popular amongst 19th century writers. At the far end of the thematic spectrum was madness as one of the issues in the society as described in Hemingway's The Battler and Faulkner's That Evening Sun. Still there was hope and search for a new beginning in the American literature of the time.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, and Ernest Hemingway were the key prose writers of the time. They created a modernist literature that was connected to American traditions. European modernism was all about experiment. Although American prose between the wars experimented with form and viewpoint, Americans wrote more realistically than European authors. Novelist Ernest Hemingway wrote in a very plain and stripped style. His most covered themes include such masculine pursuits as war and hunting. William Faulkner explored the generations and relations between them, different cultures and set his novels in Mississippi area. F. Scott Fitzgerald repeatedly portrayed the tragedy awaiting those who live in flimsy dreams as the importance of facing reality became a dominant theme in the 1920s and 1930s.

F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) was the leading writer of America's Jazz Age, the glittering hero of the Roaring Twenties, whose talent gave him an ability to be an objective spectator, detached observer of the high life he described in his novels. Although, he was never publicly acclaimed as anything more than a entertainer during...

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