Modern Period (1901-1939) in English Literature - Pdf

Mofizur Rahman

Modern Period (1901-1939) in English Literature - Pdf

History of English Literature
The Modern Period (1901-1939)
Major Writers Works of this periods
The Modern Period (1901-1939) in English Literature

Modern Period (1901-1939) in English Literature, modern age in English literature pdf, 20th century literature pdf, modern period English writers

Modern Period

The period between 1901 and 1939 is generally accepted as the Modem Age of English literature. Queen Victoria's death in 1901 marks the beginning of this new literary era and the beginning of the Second World War in 1939 indicates its end. Modernism is more than a literary phenomenon; it is inclusive of many art forms that flourished in European countries including England.

The Modern Period comprises two shorter ages:-

  1. The Edwardian Period (1901-1910)
  2. The Georgian Period (1911-1936)

Edwardian Period (1901-1910)

The first decade of the twentieth century (1901-1910) is called Edwardian Age due to the fact that King Edward VII reigned over England during this decade. Some historians, however, think that the literary trends of this age continued until the outbreak of World War I in 1914; there are some others who think that those trends, continued until the end of the First World War in 1918. Opinions, about the end of this age vary because the literary features of this, period did not have sharp closing point in time.,

The important facts which influenced the literature of this period are:-

  1. The Edwardian Age covers a transitional time between, Victorian stability and the impending holocaust of the First, World War 
  2. The first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901.
  3. In 1902 the Second Boer War in South Africa split Britain, into anti- and pro-war factions and the conflict eventually, resulted in power reduction of the parliamentarians.
  4. “Women's Social and Political Union” founded in, Manchester in 1903.
  5. “First Congress for Freudian Psychology” was held in, Salzburg in 1908.
  6. The first transatlantic wireless signals were sent by, Guglielmo Marconi.
  7. Pablo Picasso started “cubism” between 1907 and 1911.
  8. Albert Einstein published his theory of relativity in 1905.
  9. Earnest Rutherford published his book on radioactivity.
  10. The Write Brothers invented the airplane engine and flew for the first time in 1908.
  11. The Old-Age Pensions Act was passed in 1908. It began as, one of the foundations of modern social welfare.
  12. The Poor Law that was passed in 1834 had serious effect on gender conditions.
  13. Although abortion was illegal, it was nevertheless the most widespread form of birth control in use.
  14. Irish National Theatre was founded in Dublin.
  15. The working classes were beginning to protest politically for a greater voice in government and the level of industrial unrest on economic issues was high in 1908.
  16. First women in the world get to vote in Finland in 1906. .,
  17. British class system remained rigid.
  18. Rapid industrialization deeply affected the social norms: interest in socialism increased, better economic opportunities demanded, the plight of the poor drew attention and the status of women and their demand for the right to vote surfaced.

Major Writers of the Period and Their Major Works:-

Henry James

Henry James (1843-1916)
  1. The Wings of the Dove (1902)
  2. The Ambassadors (1903)
  3. The Golden Bowl (1904)

Andrew Cecil Bradley

Andrew Cecil Bradley (1851-1935)
、* He is better known as A. C. Bradley, a famous critic on Shakespeare.
  1. Shakespearean Tragedy (1904)
  2. Oxford Lectures on Poetry (1909)

George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950)
* He started writing in the previous age. He is a modern dramatist, famous for his 'drama of ideas'.
  1. The Devil's Disciple (1901)
  2. Caesar and Cleopatra (1901)
  3. The Philanderer (1902)
  4. Man and Superman (1903)
  5. Major Barbara (1905)

Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)
The Nigger of the Narcissus, published in the previous age in 1898
  1. Lord Jim (1900)
  2. Heart of Darkness (1902)
  3. The End of the Tether (1902)
  4. Typhoon (1903)
  5. Nostromo (1904)
  6. The Mirror of the Sea (1906)
  7. The Secret Agent (1907)

Rudyard Kipling

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

  1. Kim (1901)
  2. Just So. Stories (1902)
  3. Puck of  Pooks Hill (1906)
  4. Rewards and Fairies (1910)

John Millington Synge

John Millington Synge (1871-1909)
*He was an Irish dramatist.
  1. In the Shadow of the Glen (1903)
  2. Riders to the Sea (1904)
  3. The Well of the Saints (1905)
  4. The Playboy of the Western World (1907)
  5. The Tinker's Wedding (1907)
  6. Deirdre of the Sorrows (1910)

Gilbert Keith Chesterton 

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936)
  1. Heretics (1905)
  2. Charles Dickens: A Critical Study (1906)
  3. The Man Who Was Thursday: A Nightmare (1908)
  4. Orthodoxy (1908).

Edward Morgan Forster 

Edward Morgan Forster (1879-1970)
  1. Where Angels Fear to Tread (1905)
  2. A Room with a View (1908)
  3. Howards End (1910)

Main Literary Features of the Age:

  1. The changes in economy brought new-found wealth and new demands. Literature of the time reflects indulgence in cuisine, fashion, entertainment and travels.
  2. Advances in science had profound effect on life and literature. Automobile, electricity, radio, film, etc. opened new possibilities for art and artists.
  3. The writers' attitude to the voice of the authority is critical unlike the submissive attitude of the Victorian writers.
  4. The Victorian style still continues.
  5. Women issues come to light in literary works.
  6. The poor finds a stronger voice in literature.
  7. Emphasis on moral conduct and prudery declines.
  8. Greater awareness of human rights influences writings.
  9. The late Victorian decadents' belief in “art for art's sake” continues. A sense of detachment alienates the serious artists from the general readers because of this belief. This resulted in a wide gap between serious works and popular works.
  10. A mass reading public emerges as a consequence of the Education Act in 1870 for compulsory primary education. Consequently, popular fiction was in great demand.
  11. Many authors turn away from the Victorians' optimism and their self-imposed duty of civilizing the world (the white man's burden). These authors satirize Victorian values.
  12. The advance of psychoanalysis has a deep impact on the creative works of this period.
  13. The progress in comparative mythology has introduced the telligentsia to the study of different belief systems. It has affected writers' faith in Christianity as the only correct faith.

Georgian Period (1911-1936)

The period between 1910 and 1936 is called Georgian Period after the name of George V who reigned over England during these years. It is the second phase of the Modern Age. However, literary features of the Modern Age continued till 1939, the year in which the Second World War broke out. For this reason, it is generally agreed that the Modern Age ended in 1939.

The important facts which influenced the literature of this period are:-

  1. The Victorian peace and order was no more. Unrest and violence engulfed life.
  2. Imperialism became a disturbing factor in the world. For colonial supremacy European nations engaged in rivalry that led to the First World War (1914-18). This war marks the end of Victorian optimism.
  3. Socialism had great influence on the English life and thought. Class feeling became stronger.
  4. The Fabian Society which was founded in 1883 now started transition of land and industrial capital from individuals to collective ownership in a peaceful way.
  5. In 1918 women gained right to vote in Great Britain.
  6. The First-World War and its aftermath changed the traditional way of life.
  7. The National Guilds League established in 1914 worked out the programmes of guild socialism for gradual change from capitalism to socialism without any violence. Bertrand Russell was one of the members of it.
  8. In the twenties and thirties frustration and discontent paralysed life.
  9. The Rhymers' Club was formed. The members of the club concentrated on the beauty of sound and ornamentation of subject. W.B. Yeats was a member of this club for some time.
  10. Four anthologies entitled Georgian Poetry(1911-1922)were published.
  11. Press tycoons started mass-audience newspapers.
  12. “Dadaism”, “Surrealism”, “Imagism”, “Impressionism” and “Expressionism” flourished as art movements.
  13. The Titanic sank in 1912.
  14. The October Revolution began in Russia in 1917.
  15. W. B. Yeats won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923 and G.B. Shaw in 1926.
  16. Foundation was laid for British Commonwealth of Nations.
  17. Irish demand for independence became stronger.
  18. World War II broke out in 1939.

Major Writers of the Period and Their Major Works:-

Thomas Hardy

Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) wrote most of his novels in the earlier period. In this period he wrote his poems and short stories.

George Bernard Shaw

George Bernard Shaw(1856-1950)
  1. Pygmalion (1913)
  2. Heartbreak House (1921)
  3. Saint Joan (1924)
  4. The Apple Cart(1929)
  5. Too True to Be Good (1932)

Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
* He was a psychologist known for his theory of psycho-analysis.
  1. Interpretation of Dreams trans. (1913)
  2. Psychopathology of Everyday Life(trans. (1914)

Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad (1857-1924)
  1. Under Western Eyes (1911)
  2. Chance (1913)
  3. Victory (1915)
  4. The Shadow Line (1917)
  5. The Rescue (1920)
  6. The Rover (1923)

William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
He was a poet, dramatist and critic, famous for his use of symbolism and mysticism.
  1. The Resurrection (1913)
  2. The Wild Swans at Coole (1919)
  3. The Cat and the Moon (1926)
  4. The Tower (1928)
  5. The Winding Stair and Other Poems (1933)

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), a philosopher
  1. Mysticism and Logic (1918)
  2. The Analysis of Mind (1921)
  3. History of Western Philosophy (1946), published in the Post-modern age.
  4. Authority and the Individual (1949), published in the Post-moden age.

William Somerset Maugham

William Somerset Maugham (1874-1965)
*He was a novelist and short story writer.
  1. The Sacred Flame (1928)
  2. Cakes and Ale (1930)
  3. The Razor's Edge (1944), published in the Post-modern age.

John Edward Masefield

John Edward Masefield (1878-1967)
  1. The Midnight Folk (1922)
  2. Collected Poems (1923)
  3. The Bird of Dawning (1933)
  4. Dead Ned (1938)

Edward Morgan Forster 

Edward Morgan Forster (1979-1970)
  1. A Passage to India (1924)
  2. Aspects of Novel (1927), a critical work
  3. The Celestial Omnibus (1911), a collection of short stories
  4. The Eternal Moment and Other Stories (1928)

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse

Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (1881-1975)
* He is better known as P.G. Wodehouse. He is famous for his use of language. He wrote about 96 books.
  1. The Man with Two Left Feet (1917)
  2. Jeeves (1923)
  3. Blandings Castle (1935)
  4. Lord Emsworth and Others (1937)

James Joyce 

James Joyce (1882-1941)
* He was a novelist, famous for his narrative technique known as stream of consciousness.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)
  1. Exiles (1918)
  2. Ulysses (1922)
  3. Finnegans Wake (1939)

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf(1882-1941), a feminist
  1. The Voyage Out (1915)
  2. Mrs. Dalloway (1925)
  3. To the Lighthouse (1927)
  4. The Waves (1931)
  5. Flush (1933)
  6. The Years (1937)

Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka (1883-1924)
* He was a novelist, short story writer and an existentialist.
  1. The Metamorphosis (1915)
  2. The Trial (1925)
  3. The Castle (1926)
  4. Amerika (1927)

David Herbert Lawrence

David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930), a novelist
  1. The White Peacock (1911)
  2. Sons and Lovers (1913)
  3. The Rainbow (1915)
  4. Women in Love (1921)
  5. Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928)

Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound (1885-1972)
* He is one of the exponents of “Imagism”. He wrote a two-line poem as an example of imagist poetry: Here is the poem:
  1. “In a Station of the Metro”
  2. The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
  3. Petals on a wet, black bough.
His major writings are:-
  1. Umbra: Collected Poems (1920)
  2. Cantos 1- XXVII (1925-28)
  3. Literary Essays (1954)
  4. Make It New (1934)

Thomas Stearns Eliot

Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965)
* He was a poet, dramatist, literary critic, and an editor. His theory of 'objective co-relative' is very famous.
  1. Prufrock and Other Observations (1917)
  2. “The Waste Land” (1922)
  3. Poems (1919)
  4. Selected Essays 1917-1932 (1932)
  5. Four Quartets (1942)
  6. Murder in the Cathedral (1935)
  7. The Family Reunion (1939)
  8. The Cocktail Party (1950)  published in the Post-modem age.

Henry Miller

Henry Miller (1891-1980)
  1. Tropic of Cancer (1934)

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald

Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald (1896-1940)
  1. The Great Gatsby (1925)
  2. Tender Is the Night (1934)
  3. The Love of the Last Tycoon (1941)

William Cuthbert Faulkner

William Cuthbert Faulkner (1897-1962)
  1. The Sound and the Fury (1929)
  2. As I Lay Dying (1930)
  3. Light in August (1932)
  4. Absalom, Absalom! (1936)

Ernest Miller Hemingway

Ernest Miller Hemingway (1899-1961)
  1. The Sun Also Rises(1926)
  2. A Farewell to Arms (1929)
  3. The Old Man and the Sea, published in the next age in 1952

Graham Greene

Graham Greene (1904-91)
  1. It's a Battlefield(1934)

Wystan Hugh Auden

Wystan Hugh Auden (1907-1973)
  1. Poems(1930)
  2. The Oxford Book of Light Verse(1938)

Dylan Marlais Thomas

Dylan Marlais Thomas (1914-53):
  1. Twenty-five Poems (1936)

Main Literary Features of the Age:

  1. The poets who published their poems in four anthologies entitled Georgian Poetry (1911-1922) are called “Georgian Poets”. Georgian poetry is rural in subject matter, delicate in manner and traditional in form and technique. W.W. Gibson, Rupert Brooke, J. Masefield and Ralph Hodgson are among the best known Georgian poets.
  2. However, in the 19020s and 1930s poets' search for a new poetic tradition is noteworthy. The late Victorians (Decadents) give way to the Georgians. Then the Imagists replace the Georgians but after a few years they themselves disappear. In the second decade of the 20th century there has been another movement known as dadaism. In the 1920s surrealism replaces dadaism. There have also been experiments with “impressionism” and “expressionism”.
  3. The disillusionment of the hope for a better world following the First World War finds expression in the poetry of this period. New writers in the 1930s find socialism and communism as the possible solution to overcome the economic depression caused by the First World War. With the change of subject and attitude, the poetic techniques have also been changed. Many Modernist poets imitate techniques of the seventeenth century metaphysical poets. Thus, these poets have wanted to break away from the convention, but at the same time, they are not entirely against tradition. They introduce verse libres or free verse. Symbols, conceits, allusions, and quotations are so frequently used that poetry becomes obscure. A new kind of poetry composed with the fragments of the old appears.
  4. The Modern literature is dominated by novels. It is more realistic and. more concerned with social problems. Influenced by psychology, modern novelists focus on the inner problems of the characters along with their social problems. Instead of simple, chronological narrative technique, the use of “stream of consciousness” or the “interior monologue” is accepted as a main narrative technique of novels.
  5. The drama of the period also becomes realistic. Ibsen, a Norwegian dramatist, deeply influences English dramatic art in mirroring social and family problems. Contemporary. problems have been so realistically intellectualized in the drama of this period that these plays, except the plays of Shaw, seem to miss imagination. Poetic drama begins in this period.
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