Elements Of Modernist Writing Essay

1225 words - 5 pages

Catherine Mansfield, Elizabeth Bishop and William Carlos Williams were poets and writers of short fiction that belonged to the Modernist movement. The movement itself was triggered mostly by the industrial revolution and the horrors of World War I. It was an inter-continental movement and spread into all spheres and disciplines, such as art, philosophy, literature, architecture, music, culture and so on. During the movement of modernism, the individual moved into the spotlight, and it the human subjectivity and self-consciousness was themes around which most of the art and literary worked evolved. Modernist writers adopted the stream of consciousness; a literary technique used to describe the workings of the mind, and the ways in which thoughts and feelings combined to create a subjective reality. The brother of William James coined the term, and the technique was improved by Katherine Mansfield, but brought to perfection by Joyce. The most dominant Modernist movement in poetry was imagism and found new inspiration in the writings of Sappho, Catullus and Villon. Everything that was not written in that manner was intolerable. The imagists insisted on direct treatment of the subject and omitted every word that was unnecessary decorum. These three authors are representatives of the Modernist movement because their work contains all the elements of modernist writing: imagism, interior monologue, the need to explore the human condition and life in general.
Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish” and “This is Just to Say” are both imagist poems, which have an underlying Christian theme. In Christian religion, the fish is considered a symbol of Jesus Christ and in “This is Just to Say” reminds of the story of Eve eating the forbidden fruit. William Carlos Williams was a very important representative of this movement, and Elizabeth Bishop made use imagism elements in combination with surrealist elements in order to create a new, defamiliarized reality, devoid of subjectivity. The speaker of “The Fish” is a fisherwoman, who catches a curious looking the fish, and as she observes it, she begins to identify herself with the fish. It is a brown, saggy and unresisting fish, because “He did not fight / He had not fought at all” (EB 5- 6). The fish is still alive, yet it does not fight for survival, and the speaker searches for traces of life in the fish’s eye. However, she notices that “They shifted a little, but not / to return my stare” (EB 40- 41). The reader notices a rise in enthusiasm from beginning to end of the poem. The first lines are disinterested, almost surreal and merely describe the fish in a dull manner. However, the descriptions become more vivid, more imagist after the poet observes the fish longer “I admired his sullen face/ the mechanism of his jaw” (EB 45- 46). By the end of the poem, the speaker becomes more and more ecstatic: “I stared and stared/, and victory filled up/ the little rented boat” (EB 65- 67). In the end, the poet observed the...

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