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Discuss the Effects of Major Political and Social Movements on the Literary Works of 20th Century

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Effects of Major Political and Social Movements on the Literary Works of 20th Century Just a decade back, the calendar changed from 1999 to 2000 and the event was marked by joyous celebrations and fireworks throughout the world. Television networks broadcasted this grand event from all over the world. Though the year 2000 belongs to the 20th century, none of us were actually bothered celebrating the turn on of the 21st century. However, I don?t think the same celebration took place when the calendar was turning on the very first day of 20th century. Hardly anyone had any idea on that day on what is about to unfold in the coming hundred years. Then the human civilization saw the most eventful century of the entire history. It was a hundred years when human race observed the greatest of the inventions that changed the lifestyle at a very rapid pace. It was the century when various social and political ideologies were born, spread and died. The world saw two of the most devastating global wars, which could have caused the end of mankind. We saw the rise and fall of super powers and we saw a new kind of war that was not fought with the weapons. We saw the end of colonialism and we saw the rise of terrorism. The world economy suffered from two of the greatest financial meltdown. Knowingly or unknowingly, all these great events had enormous effect on the lives of the global citizens. And just like any other time, literary works from this period was influenced massively by the events of this happening century. A hundred years is not a very lengthy period in the context of human civilization. ...read more.


In the 20th century, as the colonialism was falling, different political philosophies were emerging. Communism was one such new political movement that took place in Soviet Union. However, Orwell was not like the other British socialist during the 1930s or 1940s who took their side of the Soviet policies. In fact he pointed out the loopholes of the so called classless system in socialism and the satiric statement ?all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others? shows the irony of almost every political system. Colonialism is another political theme that can be found widely in the 20th century literature. Though the largest British colony America is already freed by this time, the British dominance still remained in most parts of Africa and America. Achebe?s ?Things Fall Apart? is a great piece of writing that shows how the colonial powers conquest and how the local cultures and heritages were swept away on the influence of the colonizers. Colonialism is mostly a political perception but it affects to the core of social foundations. Every society has its own values and ethics and upon that their culture and heritage are developed. African continent was known as the ?Dark Continent? by that time and was believed to be ?uncivilized?. There have been several literary works that revolve around the African life and a common feature of those writings is that they are written from the colonizers point of view. The colonizers had little or no respect for the tradition or the lifestyle of the indigenous people in Africa. Achebe took a very strong stand against this and with his very skilful writing; he tried to show the richness of the African tribal lives. ...read more.


Evelyn is not sure which course of life she should choose. Oknowo just knows about masculinity, not about anything else that should matter in life. Maureen cannot figure out who she really is despite her husband and children adapts to a new life. And Tommy, who has tried almost all the professions of the world, is still unsure what suits him. So, almost every piece of text we have read, we see individuals are confused about who they really are and looking for their true identity. Finally, the approach of the writers from the 20th century is more towards the psychic of human. We see enhanced analysis of ordinary individuals and how the social forces and factors are affecting their soul. Human alienation has been a dominant theme in the literature of this period. From the isolated death of Mr. Bates in ?Odour of Chrysanthemums? to Tommy Wilhelm?s weeping over a stranger?s corpse in ?Seize the Day?- they all represent how the modern men are getting more and more isolated, resulted by the complexities of life. Bellow was perhaps the master of all who portrayed a very realistic image of modern human through Tommy Wilhelm, who is termed very significantly as ?alone in the crowd?. It is so true that today we have so many amenities around us to make our life comfortable but perhaps in doing so we are ignoring the human bond which has formed the relations and kept everyone tied together. If someone is asked, how you would define 20th century in a single sentence, one may answer that this is the century which has seen enormous progress in human civilization but has also been bleed severely due to all the wars. And literature from this period also reflects these forces that shaped up the human life and civilization. ...read more.

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