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'Modernist writers disturbed their readers by adopting complex and difficult new forms and styles'. To what extent has your reading of the modernists involved such a process of disturbance?

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

'Modernist writers disturbed their readers by adopting complex and difficult new forms and styles'. To what extent has your reading of the modernists involved such a process of disturbance? Modernist literature flaunts difficult, often aggressive or disruptive, forms and styles; it frequently challenges traditional 'realistic' style and is characterised by a rejection of 19th century traditions. Literary modernism focuses on breaking away from rules and conventions, searching for new perspectives and points of view, experimenting in form and style. It breaks up and disturbs the settled state of literature and emphasises a re-structuring of literature and the experience of reality it represents. Although art always attempts to 'imitate' or represent reality, what changed was the understanding of what constitutes reality, and how that reality could best be represented. Modernist literature is marked by a break with the sequential, developmental, cause-and-effect presentation of the 'reality' of realist fiction, towards a presentation of experience as layered, allusive, and discontinuous: using, to these ends, fragmentation and juxtaposition, motif, symbol, allusion. From time to time there occurs some revolution, or sudden mutation of form and content in literature. Then, some way of writing which has been practiced for a generation or more, is found by a few people to be out of date, and no longer to respond to contemporary modes of thought, feeling and speech...tradition has been flouted, and chaos has come.1 This process of disturbance can be seen in the experimentation in form in order to present differently the structure, the connections, and the experience of life. The tightening of form puts an emphasis on cohesion, interrelatedness and depth in the structure of the novel. This is accomplished in part through the use of various devices such as symbolism, narrative perspectives, shifts and overlays in time and place and perspective. Woolf uses these methods to explore what lies outside the specification of the real. Woolf draws on an interior and symbolic landscape: the world is moved 'inside', structured symbolically and metaphorically, as opposed to the realist representations of the exterior world as a physical and historical, site of experience. ...read more.

Middle

These complex and new methods that attempt to depict the chaotic interior life appear more jumbled and perplexing than the classical realist novel and so seem disturbing. However, Woolf is attempting to create a realistic account of the inner processes of the individuals mind and an expression of the continuous flow of sense perceptions, thoughts and feelings. Woolf also employs the symbolic apprehension and comprehension of reality as a structural approach to experience. It marked a turning away from writing by observation to transforming fact into a symbol of inner experience. In her diary Woolf wrote What interests me in the last stage was the freedom and boldness with which my imagination picked up, used and tossed aside all the images, symbols which I had prepared. I am sure this is the right way of using them-not in set pieces...but simply as images, never making them work out; only suggest 15 To The Lighthouse assumes a structure similar to that found in the fictional scene of the painting. In a letter Woolf acknowledges the structure and its unifying symbol as enacted at the end. 'I meant nothing by The Lighthouse. One has to have a central line down the middle of the book to hold the design together.'16 In To The Lighthouse the Lighthouse has a prominent but fluid symbolic place in the novel. It does not seem to be the key to some hidden allegory since it does not stand for just one thing, each character that contemplates the Lighthouse gives it a special meaning, its significance in the novel evolves as the sum of different parts. For the teenaged James, the Lighthouse is a stark symbol of masculinity, a phallic symbol. For Mrs. Ramsay, the Lighthouse is a watching eye sweeping through her thoughts with a regular rhythm. To Woolf, the Lighthouse seems to serve as an anchor, a unifying image that ties together the layers of time and thought she explores. ...read more.

Conclusion

Naremore, James, The World Without A Self. London: Yale University Press, 1973. Schulze, Robin. G, Varieties of Mystical Experience in the Writings of Virginia Woolf in Twentieth Century Literature Vol.44. New York: Hofstra University, 1998. Woolf, Virginia. A writer's diary: being extracts from the diary of Virginia Woolf edited by Leonard Woolf. London, Hogarth Press, 1953. Woolf. Virginia, Mrs Dalloway. London: Penguin, 1996. Woolf, Virginia, To The Lighthouse. London: Penguin, 1992. 1 Eliot, T.S, American Literature and American Language in Selected Essays. London: Faber, 1951.p. 73. 2 Lee, Hermione, The Novels of Virginia Woolf. New York: Holmes and Meier Publishers, 1977. p.106. 3 Woof, Virginia, Mrs Dalloway. London: Penguin, 1996. p.8. 4 Ibid. p.6. 5 Ibid. p.55. 6 Ibid. p.35. 7 Ibid. p.60. 8 Ibid. p.75. 9 Auerbach, Erich, Mimesis: the representation of reality in Western literature / by Erich Auerbach; translated from the German by Willard Trask. New York: Doubleday/Anchor Books, 1957. p.529. 10 Woolf, Virginia, To The Lighthouse. London: Penguin, 1992, p.190 11 Ibid. pp.137-139. 12 Schulze, Robin. G, Varieties of Mystical Experience in the Writings of Virginia Woolf in Twentieth Century Literature Vol.44. New York: Hofstra University, 1998. p.3 13 Naremore, James, The World Without A Self. London: Yale University Press, 1973. p.71. 14 Auerbach, Erich, Mimesis: the representation of reality in Western literature / by Erich Auerbach; translated from the German by Willard Trask. New York: Doubleday/Anchor Books, 1957. pp. 351-355 15 Woolf, Virginia. A writer's diary: being extracts from the diary of Virginia Woolf edited by Leonard Woolf. London, Hogarth Press, 1953. p.169 16 Bell, Q, Virginia Woolf: A Biography. London: Hogarth Press, 1972. p.168. 17 Woolf, Virginia, To The Lighthouse. London: Penguin, 1992. p.5. 18 Ibid. p.23. 19 Ibid. p.7. 20 Ibid. p.7. 21 Ibid. p.7. 22 Ibid. pp.276-277. 23 Ibid. p.277. 24 Ibid. p. 107. 25 Ibid. 270. 26 Woolf. Virginia, Mrs Dalloway. London: Penguin, 1996. p.183. 27 Ibid. p. 178. 28 Woolf, Virginia. A writer's diary: being extracts from the diary of Virginia Woolf edited by Leonard Woolf. London, Hogarth Press, 1953. p.78. Assessed essay Modernist literature 27 April 2004 PAGE PAGE 1 ...read more.

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