Which era was most significant in literature? There are several unique eras that may constitute as the most significant: The Enlightenment, Revolution, Romanticism, Victorian, as well as Modernism. Some may argue that the Victorian era held a great significance pertaining to literature. In my opinion, the most significant era in literature is simply Modernism. Modernism is the movement to make everything new. Modernism, in the arts, a radical break with the past and the concurrent search for new forms of expression (Kuiper). This era, took place at the beginning of the twentieth century; from 1900-1945 to be exact. Vast transformations in human experience can be characterized as modernization (Modernity and Modernism 3). During the Modernism era, there were numerous transformations taking place. There were industrial advancements, progression of literature, as well as warfare.
Modernism holds the most significance due to the industrial advancements that were taking place at the time. There were new means of transportation that had been established, such as the railroad, the steamship, the airplane, as well as the automobile. Due to the technological advancements, people from the industrialized west were able to travel greater distances even faster than before. The advancements did not stop there. Other technologies, such as the telephone and the telegraph, allowed people to communicate rather quickly and more effectively. Industrial change sparked these technological advancements, which they were able to improve agriculture, nutrition, medical care, as well as public health. During this time, infant mortality had decreased, the world's population had tripled in size. Where we were once a little under two billion, we had now grew to be approximately six billion. Sometimes with the good news, comes bad news. Although the technological advancements were assisting and creating opportunities of growth, they were also accountable for the production of weapons. Due to the vast amount of weaponry, Destruction had taken place. While countries were involved in trade, immigration, and communications, conflict had been established. Thus, creating warfare, revolutions, genocides, and related famines. Many people weren't fans of conflict, they just wanted peace and unity. In response, the people looked to leaders, such as the League of Nations, United Nation, and the Organization for African Unity. Due to weaponry, warfare is established.
Modernism also holds the most significance due to the warfare at the time. The Russian Revolution, The Great Depression, as well as the Holocaust had all taken place during the first half of the century. In 1914, the First World War had occurred primarily in Europe and had lasted up to four years. This war was weaponized , causing death to approximately 15 million people. Therefore, in 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was established to help ensure an end to the war. People were left scarred and broken after the war. So, some people turned to reading, art, and writing. This created an escape from the problems that had manifested, while also opening up the minds of the people and informing them of what was happening around them.
The progression of literature is one of the most important aspects that supports modernism being the most significant era. A sense that the old ways of portraying the human experience were no longer adequate (Modernity and Modernism 9), the writers during this time, felt it necessary to speak truth in their literature. Because of that, the readers are able to connect with what the writer is saying. Radical thinkers challenged the ability of human reason to understand the world (Modernity and Modernism 9). In T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, he talks about the destruction after World War I. Due to the timing as well as the topic of the poem, people were able to relate to this poem because they were still relatively hurt and damaged by the war. Modernism also lead to changes in subjects of literature, ... in the inclusion of previously taboo subject matter (especially sexuality), as well as greater attention to shifting social roles (often relating to the impact of feminism) (Modernity and Modernism 11). In T. S. Eliot's The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, It makes references in regards to status and also talks about living up to the standard. ...with a bald spot in the middle of my hair (they will say: How his hair is growing thin!') (Eliot 569), the connection was made that people are worried about what others think and because of that, it causes them to internalize and second guess the decisions that they make. Many people have felt this way and even gone through it. In this poem, it also says, No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be (Eliot 571). With this statement, the connection of people are to be who they are, so whoever or whatever they choose to be and what others desire for them to be.
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