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. But in these hundred years of 20th century, there were far more remarkable events or happenings than any other century. The century starts with the collapse of imperialism ("Twentieth Century's Triumphant Entry”) which was followed by the collapsing of colonialism during the middle of the century. The first half of the century saw two great wars, World War - I (914-1918) and World War - II (1939-1945), and the Great Depression during the inter-war years (De 129). This is the century which saw the end of colonialism at the last decade of its first half. This is also the decade when a bomb named ‘Little Boy’ destroyed the life of half million people in Hiroshima in under 5 minutes (“Tale of Two Cites”). The second half of this century was ruled by a war of nerves, known as the cold war (Thompson 7). The end of the Second World War gave birth of 2 political super powers, United States and the Soviet Union, who tried to rule the post colonial period with their military strength and political influence. The cold war dominated the geographical life for more than 45 years and came to an end with as the Soviet Union collapsed internally in 1991 (Brown). Though this century saw many major wars, the century itself was not just about wars. The century also saw the advancement on other fields such as medicine, science and technology. X-rays, antibiotics, contraceptive, penicillin, vaccination are just to name a few which had changed the world of medicine and so did the life of the people. Advancement in the field of science and technology was just enormous. From television to computers, from satellites to space shuttles- the advancement of science and technology is seen in every single place. Scientific theories such as the theory of relativity drastically changed the world view of the scientist. The mechanization and automation took place on every sector and still taking place even today. This is also the century when mass media, telecommunication and information technology has made the world’s knowledge more widely available. The media brought the world closer and as people see the struggle of others, awareness started to build up on issues like human rights and global warming.

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Apart from the great wars, medical and scientific advancements, 20th century also saw the development of various new philosophical schools. Existentialism, post-structuralism, Marxism, feminism- just are a few to name. Such new philosophic thoughts influenced the religion, politics and social values. Existentialism is generally considered to be the philosophical and cultural movement which holds that the starting point of philosophical thinking must be the individual and the experiences of the individual (Coates). Such philosophic values have strong conformation with many religious philosophies. Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry centered upon a materialist interpretation of history ...

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