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Willa Cather“Neighbour Rosicky”
Modernism – A movement dated from roughly 1900-1950. In short, modernism is about changes–changes in society and changes in literary form. Modernist literature represents the change a traditional society experiences as it becomes modern, a transformation that may be painful.
In this time period, Americans witnessed the devastating effects of World War I, Black Friday and the subsequent stock market crash, the Great Depression, and World War II, and many people were disillusioned. Also in this time period came Darwin’s theory of evolution, challenging traditional ideas about religion; Karl Marx’s theories on communism, challenging the current idea of government; and Sigmund Freud’s theory of the unconscious mind, challenging traditional ideas about humanity. Many modernist writers reflect this disillusionment and confusion by questioning traditional values and beliefs and/or portraying the failure of the American Dream. As the editors of your textbook point out, modernism is “an experience of loss” (Baym et al, 2013, p. 1847). This loss and uncertainty are sometimes reflected in the literature that might end without a true resolution, echoing the loss many felt in their lives. The traditional “happy ending” is certainly not a staple in modernist literature. Get Literature help today