Trimis la data: 2010-05-02
Materia: Engleza
Nivel: Facultate
Pagini: 24
Nota: 9.87 / 10
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Autor: Alecu Ioana
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Why should one be afraid of modernism? Numberless pages have been filled on the topic. Treatises have been written and surveys have been made with a view to grasping the essence and specificity of a still controversial issue. Critics have tried to elucidate the nature of a heterogeneous, yet, paradoxically, consistent phenomenon. The very concept of modernism in the context of the different '-isms' emerging at the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century has come under the scrutinising lens of analysts. Efforts have been made to identify those features that could function as the lowest common denominator for the distinct individual performances of writers whose works seemed to reflect the changes characterising the turn-of-the-century period and the first decades of the twentieth century.
We might say that no previous literary phenomenon has aroused similar intense interest among the reading public. Surprisingly, however, the elucidating efforts have been accompanied by further reluctance on the part of the audience to come to grips with the modernist phenomenon proper. Readers seemed to recover with much difficulty from the shock that literary modernism had inflicted upon them.

The novelty of the artistic reflection forced them to contemplate the relativity of a value system that was replacing the apparent stability of the nineteenth century. What is surprising is that, in time, while readers got used to digesting the novelty of modernism, they also got into the habit of being more eager to read about than to read modernism. The obvious difficulty of the modernist writings has generated a paradoxical phenomenon.

Readers have come to know all imaginable facets of a modernist piece of writing, without having read at least a page of it. They have become conversant with the modernist strategies based on secondary sources. The original fear has disappeared, which does not mean, unfortunately, that a deeper understanding of the phenomenon has emerged, likely to lead to the common readers' liking of the modernist productions.

The modernist works, though readily qualified as 'interesting' or 'remarkable', are rejected either on account of the relationship they establish with life or reality, which is felt as altogether wrong, or because the meaning of the same relationship escapes the understanding of the readers trained in the spirit of realism. This is not to say that there have not been voices full of praise for the modernist achievements.

But they only confirm the fact that the more challenging a cultural phenomenon, the more varied the response it generates. Modernism has challenged the readers' expectations to such an extent that little consensus has been reached to the very terminology one should use in relation to it.

In the 1970s, Malcolm Bradbury voiced his dissatisfaction with the lack of terminology that one could comfortably and unambiguously associate with the literary works produced in the last years of the nineteenth century and the first decades of the twentieth. "Every so often, there occur in the arts certain severe upheavals which seem to affect all their products and radically change their temper.

For some reason these are often closely associated with centuries: we can sense one such change that belongs to the eighteenth century, which we call 'Neo-Classicism'; another associated with the nineteenth, 'Romanticism'; and another associated with our own century for which we have no clear name but which we often regard as the most radical of all.

There are, then, certain phases, often taking place over a relatively short period of time, when 'style' shifts and the structure of perception among artists significantly alters, and when the environment and prevailing assumptions of art are so radically recreated that it seems no longer to be witnessing to the same kind of world, or employing structure, material or language in the same way as before."

The critic's worrying about the lack of an appropriate terminology, which indicates uncertainty about the content the terms are used to designate, seems to have been put an end to at the beginning of the twenty-first century. The literary history has finally come up with a name for an artistic phenomenon perceived as radically novel when it first started to take the stage.

Besides, this term has managed to impose itself as indispensable to the understanding of the twentieth century if for nothing else, at least for the fact that, for lack of imagination probably, it got incorporated into the concept of 'postmodernism' as well.
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