Background Historical Information
1914-1946 The modern civilization viewed science, life, art, and politics in a different way. Nihilism- The rejection of all religious and moral principles as the only means of obtaining social progress. The modernists decided they no longer wanted to follow strict moral codes of the society. o Their rejection on morality was based on its enthusiasm, compliance, and its effort of control over human feelings o The rules were very restrictive and limiting over the human spirit. o Modernists believed that in order for a person to feel whole and a contributor to revitalization of the social process, he or she needed to be free of all baggage of years of hypocrisy. Early 20th-century culture was literally re-inventing itself on a daily basis. o With so many scientific discoveries and technological innovations taking place, the world was changing so quickly that culture had to re-define itself constantly in order to keep pace with modernity and not appear archaic. o Each time a new discovery was found or a new scientific system or style was accepted, it was discarded for a newer one. People always felt a tremendous creative energy and they were always looking to invent. o Above all they embraced freedom o Primitivism- A belief that it is best to live simply, and in a natural environment. The constant change and new assumptions created a new allowance in the department of the arts. The arts were now beginning to break all of the rules since they were trying to keep up with all of the new technological and theoretical advances that were constantly changing. Artists broke rules with everything they had been taught as being sacred. They invented new artistic languages that could express the meaning of the new changes 1920’s Harlem Renaissance o African American Migration to Northern Urban Centers o African Americans gain access media o They create Gospel Music o They use the same structure for Blues songs in their poetry.
Genres ď‚ˇ The genres in this time period were novels, plays, and poetry. ď‚ˇ Introduction of unique writing styles: o Interior monologue and stream of consciousness
T.S. Eliot → Thomas Stearn Eliot o Born: St. Louis Missouri, 1888 into into an Old New England family o He studied at Harvard, afterwards he did work in the department of philosophy Sorbonne, Harvard, and Merton College, Oxford. o He took residence in England, where he served as a schoolmaster and a bank clerk for a short time, and soon became a literary editor for the publishing house Faber & Faber, after working there for a while he was promoted to director. o Eliot was took many chances with his writings, he was not concerned with satisfying the people. o Eliot was a Christian, and he would take the time to express that in his writings. o He grew up as the youngest child of seven children. o He put his time into many careers such as: a teacher, energetic social work volunteer at the Humanity Club of St. Louis, and an amateur poet.
Eliot’s major works: o Poetry: “Prufrock and Other Observations”, 1917 “The Waste Land” 1922 “Ash-Wednesday” 1930 “The Rock” 1934 “Collected Poems” 1909-1935, 1936 “Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats” 1939 “Four Quartets” 1944 o Drama: Murder in the Cathedral, 1935 The Family Reunion, 1939 The Cocktail Party, 1950 o Literary Criticism and Essays: The Sacred Wood, 1920 For Lancelot Andrewes, 1928 Dante, 1929 Selected Essays, 1932
Ernest HemingwayErnest was Born in 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois, he began his profession writing for a newspaper office in Kansas City at the age of seventeen. o After the United States became involved with the First World War, he became a volunteer in a ambulance unit with the Italian army. o After being injured in war, Hemingway spent great amount of time in hospitals. o When he went back to the United States, he began a career as a reporter for Canadian and American newspapers and soon after he was placed in Europe to cover major stories. o During the twenties, Hemingway became involved in a group of expatriate Americans in Paris. o Hemingway being a reporter in the Spain during the civil war sparked the background for his novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940). o Hemingway like to use soldiers, hunters, bullfighters in his stories to portray courageous people placed against society, who lose hope and faith. Ernest Hemingway’s major works: o The Sun Also Rises (1926) o A Farewell to Arms (1929) o For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940) o Men Without Women (1927) o Forty-Nine Stories (1938) o
o Robert Frost was born in San Francisco on March 26, 1874.
o During his high school is when he became interested in poetry.
o In 1895, Frost married Elinor Miriam White, who became a major inspiration in his poetry.
o He was inspired by British writers Edward Thomas, Rupert Brooke and Robert Graves.
o Most of his work was associated with the landscape and life of New England
o Robert Frost started writing poetry towards the end of the 19th century (the Victorian period). Other poets, as well as Frost, wanted to use a more traditional way in their poetry. Frost could take a simple conversation between two people and reform it into beautiful poetic language. Free verse was never used by Frost. He was a traditionalist so he used words that rhymed.
o Wrote from the age of fifteen up until when he died at the age of 88.
o Frost passed away in 1963.
Robert Frost’s major works:
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
The Road Not Taken
Fire and Ice
Nothing Gold Can Stay
The Death of the Hired Man
Langston Hughes o
James Langston Hughes was born February 1, 1902, in Joplin, Missouri.
He was an African American writer. When he moved to Washington, D.C. in November of 1924, his first book of poetry titled “The Weary Blues” was published two years later in 1926.
Hughes’ first novel, “Not Without Laughter”, won the Harmon gold medal for literature in 1930.
He was well known for his perceptive, in depth depictions of African Americans lives in America from the 1920’s to the 1960’s.
The influence of jazz had a huge impact on his writing, especially in his poetry, and became known for this usage.
He wrote novels, short stories and plays, as well as poetry. The Harlem Renaissance period, from 1920-1930, was greatly influenced by Hughes’ work and life.
A lot of his work was made to tell stories of black Americans like him. His writing often portrayed their culture and language.
James passed away on May 22, 1967, from complications with prostate cancer.
Major Works o
“Ask Your Mama: 12 Moods for Jazz” (1961)
“Collected Poems of Langston Hughes” (1994)
“Dear Lovely Death” (1931)
Black Nativity (1961)
Don't You Want to Be Free? (1938)
Good Morning, Revolution: Uncollected Social Protest Writings by Langston
I Wonder as I Wander (1956)
Laughing to Keep From Crying (1952)
E.E Cummings → Edward Estlin Cummings o Born- Cambridge, Massachusetts o October 14, 1894 o Began writing poems in 1904 o In 1917, He published a selection of poems in the anthology “Eight Harvard Poets” o In 1917, after working for a short time period in a mail-order publishing company, Cummings volunteered to serve in the Norton-Harjes Ambulance group in France. While in France, he and a friend were imprisoned (on false grounds) for three months in a French detention camp. Which is how The Enormous Room (1922) was inspired. o E.E Cummings used free play with punctuation and capitalization. He believed that capital letters were only to be used for special emphasis and punctuation marks for ambiguous statement. o Cummings would frequently use the uncapitilazation of the proper noun “I” and instead use “i”. He did this in his poetry to decrease the importance of himself, as the author, making the statement, and increasing the importance of the statement. Because Cummings did this so often in his writing, publishers and editors inherited confusion and wondered how Cummings would want his own name, capitalized or uncapitalized. Many times you will see his name “e.e. cummings” or sometimes “E.E. Cummings.” o Cumming’s father died in 1925. The death of his father influenced him to enter a “new poetic period.” He began to write about the more important aspects of life. He payed tribute to his father’s memory in the poem, “ My father moved through dooms of love.” o E.E. Cummings died fifteen years after his mother’s death due to a cerebral hemorrhage. Cummings left behind twenty-five books of prose, poetry, charcoal and pencil drawings, plays and stories. Poems o “if i” o “somewhere i have never” o “oh sweet spontaneous” o “my sweet old etcetera” o “when serpents bargain” o “anyone lived in a pretty...” o “since feeling is first” o “nobody loses all the time” o “i carry your heart with me” Plays: o Anthropos, or the Future of Art o Santa Claus: A morality o HIM (1927) Books o Tulips and Chimneys (1923) o & (1925) (self-published) o XLI Poems (1925) o is 5 (1926) o ViVa (1931) o EIMI (1933) (Soviet travelogue) o 1 × 1 (1944) o XAIPE: Seventy-One Poems (1950) o i—six nonlectures (1953) Harvard University Press
Writing Characteristics and Traits of the Time Periodo
Best described as the literary time period that broke tradition instead of starting any new traditions.
Caused by the rapid changes in the everyday American life.
During the 1920’s a group called the “Lost Generation” became very popular.
o Gertrude Stein gave the group their name and used it to describe the people of the 1920's who declined the American values of post World War I.
o Some of the stories and novels written in the time period castigated American culture in clever fictional stories.
A lot of stories had themes of exiling one’s self, alienation, and care-free living.
o The Harlem Renaissance period was from the late 1910’s to the late 1920’s.
It was the first period in the history of the United States where a group of black poets, authors, and writers took the opportunity to express themselves through their writing.
One of the main points of their works was to show that the average black man/woman was a very capable individual.
Gave birth to "gospel music".
Blues and jazz music were being heard and seen all across America through radio and pictures.
Quotations Langston Hughes: “Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly, Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams go, Life is a barren field, Frozen with snow” “An artist must be free to choose what he does, certainly, but he must also never be afraid to do what he might choose.”
T.S Elliot: “We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started an know the place for the first time.” “All significant truths are private truths. As they become public they cease to become truths; they become facts, or at best, part of the public character; or at worst, catchwords.” E.E. Cummings: “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” “Be of love a little more careful than of anything.”
“In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on.” “A civilized society is one which tolerates eccentricity to the point of doubtful sanity.”
Ernest Hemingway: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” “The man who has begun to live more seriously within begins to live more simply without.”
Discussion Questions 1.
If you were a white writer during this time period, how do you think you would treat the aspiring African American writers? Why?
If you were an African American writer during the Harlem Renaissance period, would you feel discriminated against for expressing what you feel is right?
In the early 20th century, the culture was being re-invented every day. How would you feel about a society where your life was always changing? Do you think our lives are like this today?
Why did modernism break tradition rather than create new traditions?
Compare the Realism era with the Modernism era. What extreme changes have been made?
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Published on Jan 2, 2012