Which Era was most Significant in Literature?

Published: 2021-08-09 15:45:06
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There are several unique eras that may constitute as the most significant: The Enlightenment, Revolution, Romanticism, Victorian, as well as Modernism. Some may argue that the Victorian era held a great significance pertaining to literature. In my opinion, the most significant era in literature is simply Modernism. Modernism is the movement to make everything new. Modernism, in the arts, a radical break with the past and the concurrent search for new forms of expression (Kuiper). This era, took place at the beginning of the twentieth century; from 1900-1945 to be exact. Vast transformations in human experience can be characterized as modernization (Modernity and Modernism 3). During the Modernism era, there were numerous transformations taking place. There were industrial advancements, progression of literature, as well as warfare making the modernism era most significant in literature.
Modernism holds the most significance due to the industrial advancements that were taking place at the time. There were new means of transportation that had been established, such as the railroad, the steamship, the airplane, as well as the automobile. Due to the technological advancements, people from the industrialized west were able to travel greater distances even faster than before. The advancements did not stop there. Other technologies, such as the telephone and the telegraph, allowed people to communicate rather quickly and more effectively. Industrial change sparked these technological advancements, which they were able to improve agriculture, nutrition, medical care, as well as public health. During this time, infant mortality had decreased, the world’s population had tripled in size. Where we were once a little under two billion, we had now grew to be approximately six billion. Sometimes with the good news, comes bad news. Although the technological advancements were assisting and creating opportunities of growth, they were also accountable for the production of weapons. Due to the vast amount of weaponry, Destruction had taken place. While countries were involved in trade, immigration, and communications, conflict had been established. Thus, creating warfare, revolutions, genocides, and related famines. Many people weren’t fans of conflict, they just wanted peace and unity. In response, the people looked to leaders, such as the League of Nations, United Nation, and the Organization for African Unity. Due to weaponry, warfare was established.
Modernism also holds the most significance due to the warfare at the time. The Russian Revolution, The Great Depression, as well as the Holocaust had all taken place during the first half of the century. In 1914, the First World War had occurred primarily in Europe and had lasted up to four years. This war was weaponized , causing death to approximately 15 million people. Therefore, in 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was established to help ensure an end to the war. People were left scarred and broken after the war. So, some people turned to reading, art, and writing. This created an escape from the problems that had manifested, while also opening up the minds of the people and informing them of what was happening around them.
The progression of literature is one of the most important aspects that supports modernism being the most significant era. A sense that the old ways of portraying the human experience were no longer adequate (Modernity and Modernism 9), the writers during this time, felt it necessary to speak truth in their literature. Because of that, the readers are able to connect with what the writer is saying. Radical thinkers challenged the ability of human reason to understand the world (Modernity and Modernism 9). In T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, which is considered to be perhaps the most important poem in all of modernism (Interesting literature), he talks about the destruction after World War I. In this poem, Eliot also included parts of person life such as his marriage, as well as his recovery from a nervous breakdown. Thus, allowing the reader to explore the darker aspects of human nature, as well as giving them insight to his introspective. Due to the timing as well as the topic of the poem, people were able to relate to this poem because they were still relatively hurt and damaged by the war. Modernism also lead to changes in subjects of literature, … in the inclusion of previously taboo subject matter (especially sexuality), as well as greater attention to shifting social roles (often relating to the impact of feminism) (Modernity and Modernism 11).
In T. S. Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, It makes references in regards to status and also talks about living up to the standard. …with a bald spot in the middle of my hair (they will say: How his hair is growing thin!’) (Eliot 569), the connection was made here is that people are worried about what others think and because of that, it causes them to internalize and second guess the decisions that they make. Many people have felt this way and even been the cause of other feeling this way. In this poem, it also says, No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be (Eliot 571). With this statement, the connection that was made here was, people are to be who they are (so, whoever or whatever they choose to be) and not what others desire for them to be. The works of literature created a sense of relation between the writer and the reader and/or audience. In Pablo Neruda’s Tonight I Can Write, it states, I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her( Neruda 607), which infers that the narrator is second guessing his decision. The narrator is unsure about the feelings that he/she may possess. Some may have considered it to a battle between the mind and heart. This is also another situation that the reader and/or audience can relate to. When reading works from the modernism era, you feel as if the writer speaks for you through the work of literature. For example, Pablo Neruda’s Walking Around says, It happens that I am tired of being a man (Neruda 607). Now of course, this line is simple, but for some readers it has a great impact. Some may also tie this to the 1968 I Am A Man Memphis sanitation strike. Literature during the Modernism era gave people a voice. It also had the ability to open, as well as broaden the reader’s perspective.
The writers during this era, were groundbreaking advocates, such as Joseph Conrad, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Pablo Neruda, and Hilda Doolittle, along with many others. They changed the game! They were able to explore the inner mind of mankind. They also had no problem separating from the idea that authors were to only write about the wealth, and subjects pertaining to such. They believed authors and artists were for the common man. They were able to use words, as well as traditional form in many new ways.
… if you do not even understand what words say, how can you expect to pass judgement on what words conceal? -Hilda Doolittle
Out of modernism, came the Jazz Age. After the World War I, young teens began to rebel due to the lack of certainty in regards to the future. In doing so, they drank, danced, and smoked, amongst other things. Harlem renaissance was then established. With modernism it created different avenues for artists, writers, dancers, as well as actors. Modernism was able restore the certainty of the future that had been lost after World War I.
As proven, the most significant era in literature is Modernism. With modernism, it brought about industrial advancements, like the railroad, the steamships, and automobile. It also introduced the telegraph as well as the telephone, which enabled people to communicate. And due to the advancements it created a warfare that caused the people to lose their certainty of the future. This eventually sparked the progression of literature. Thus, creating new ideas and perspectives that will not only give unique identity but also allow the writers to explore the inner minds of mankind. This created opportunities for new writers in the modernism era. With this, Which era do you believe to obtain the most significance in literature?

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