General Background to Modernist Poetry Res. Asisst. Neşe Şenel [email protected] Romantic Poetry (1789-1832) Early 19th century Romanticism: “like the old romances” =popularity of the 17th century French historical romances Romantic: (improbable adventures away from ordinary life) “unreal, farfetched, fictitious” Most of the writers of the era turned away from the principles of the neo-classical period toward a more imaginative and individual approach to life and literature. A focus on the individual. Optimistic due to their belief in progress and improvement for humanity. A rising against the dogma of reason. (limitation of the vision) Neo-classicism (18th century)( Age of Enlightenment) Importance on the sober reason Universality of the reason A compact, stable society Works of prose/ age of prose Focus on the ordinary Evil as the basic part of human nature Usual, simple, direct Indifferent to social problems Romanticism Importance of passion and sensibility Emphasis of the diversity of the truth Unstable, revolutionary society Works in poetry, age of poetry Focus on the extraordinary, imagination Innate goodness of the man, corrupted by the society and institution Unusual complex and fanciful: symbolism Everyday language A broad humanitarianism An attempt to go beyond what is ordinary reality into a deeper one. Unlike neo-classics, romantics enjoyed the medieval atmosphere, mystery and super natural. But NATURE was always in the center of their vision Return to Nature An awareness of the nature comes to foreground. For its wilderness, magnificence and solitude. New meanings to the common things that are present in the nature. Romantic Melancholy The pleasures of nature were filled with melancholy. A harsh and gloomy one. Philosophizing upon man, death, immortality. Primitivism The natural condition of men is the best condition. Glorification oh the primitive and the natural. Idealization of the child and childhood. Sentimentalism Man’s emotions, instincts and passions. The poor and the oppressed gained dignity. All the living people are respected as the parts of humanity. The sense of brotherhood. Individualism and Exoticism Imaginative sensibility is reflected without any moral or social restraint. Confessing the sins, passions, desires, aspirations, grief etc. Self-revelation poems The Medieval Revival Not classics nut the romantic poets Providing the material with the distant, unfamiliar and mysterious. William Blake William Wordsworth Samuel Taylor Coleridge Lord Byron Percy Bysshe Shelley John Keats Victorian Age (1830-1901) England as the most powerful empire. William IV – Queen Victoria Bourgeoisie dominancy/ A transition between the stability of the 18th century and instability of the 19th century Contradictions, rebellions, rapid transformations Industrial and scientific revolution Early Victorian Period(1832-1870) From an agricultural society to industry Problems like poverty, prostitution, unemployment Emergence of the working class Mid-Victorian Period (1848-1870) Debate between science vs. religion. England as the shining country. Rich and prosperous. Man’s accidental existence in an indifferent universe. Utilitarianism: using the facilities of the government for the benefit of the majority. “Religion is useless” Oxford Movement: going back to traditional kind of religion Late Victorian Period The power of England is threatened by the USA and Germany Communist and Marxist ideas affecting people ( Karl Marx) Several movements, bills, acts, unions, labor parties. Literary Background Novel as the most popular genre. Dickens, Hardy, Eliot, Bronte sisters, Austen Romantic tradition could not be followed because the rebellious feature of the romantic poets was not tolerable due to the new social structure. Romantic imagination -excessive for Victorian rationality Romantic love of nature remained yet merged together with a new scientific observation. Fascination with the medieval past continued. Alfred Tennyson • Nationalistic poet, commonly accepted social values of the period. • The emotional and intuitive technique Robert Browning • The emotional and intuitive technique • A new technique by adding a dimension of realism • Dramatic monologue: objective person speaking-poetic persona Mathew Arnold • Pessimistic about Victorian society. • No reconciliation between science and religion. An England, which is no more secure ( Germany, USA) Pessimism, escapism were dominant. Two major attitudes toward poetry: 1. Religious Poetry 2. Pre-Raphaelite Poetry • Art for art’s sake. An aesthetic movement. • Painters who lived before Raphael. • An escape from the realities of the Victorian Period into a world of aesthetics. • Highly descriptive poetry. Poetry of World War I No patriotic poems anymore for the British superiority. Those poets who fought at the front realized the full horror of war, affecting their imaginations and poetic techniques. TH 20 Century MODERNISM in Poetry Poetry of Negation: Poets alienating themselves from the society, negating the communicative function of art. The Narrative Protest: VS. Poetry of Negation. Connection between art and life. Content is more important than the form. Edwardian Period, 19011910 A period of uncertainty. Criticized for its luxury. Alfred Austen. A nostalgia for the past. How to live in a scientific world? How to cope with the impacts of Industrial revolution? A reaction to “Art for art’s sake” Thomas Hardy belonged to this period. Georgian Period A revolt against Edwardian period in two different ways. 1. Revolutionary and experimental (T.S. Eliot -Ezra Poundmodernist poetry) 2. A moderate attitude. Optimistic style on rural life, beauty of nature as a subject matter. Escaping from modernist topics. IMAGISM A style of writing and criticizing poetry articulated by Ezra Pound, 1912. A manifesto of imagism against the dictation of romanticism. T.E. Hulme. The Poet’s club. Free verse, concrete language, primacy of image. The ground for modernism is established by Hulme, yet it as a movements started by Pound when he announced to poets to be imagists. Imagist doctrine: Direct treatment of the “thing” whether objectibe or subjective. The use of absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation A freer metrical sequence- FREE VERSE SYMBOLISM In France, 1860s- 1920s. An indirect expression. A symbol is not a representation of life but an evorsion of it. Suggestive and allusive images. Modernism (1890-1930) A radical break with the 19th century aesthetics. Developing new forms of artistic expression to go beyond the conventional ideas of life and art. Freud and Jung: Human mind is disorderly and ideas are discontinues. Recurrent motifs. Accidental interruptions. Collective unconsciousness. Myths are interpreted into modern experience. Henri Bergson. Time. Clock time is artificial but the mental time which is the stream of non-thinking impulse is real. Poetry reflects complexity of existence. Multiplicity of reality. Experimenting with the new forms. Private language is used as they believed that there is no common general truth. FREE VERSE The poems have moment’s context. Urban life, corrupted city. They forbidden such matters as sex and challenged the subject matter of the bourgeoisie. Poet’s inner reality came to the front. Open ended poems. Social , traditional values and the sense of unity is destroyed. Poet should be someone elite with a privileged mind, speaking to an elite audience. Avant- Garde. Modernist art is about individuals and minds. Against materialistic society. Multiple and individual realisms. The corrupted city life, the wastedness of the individuals, death, frustration, disillusionment, alienation, fragmentation were pre-occupying the artists’ minds. Truth is temporary not absolute, gained by personal experience.