Elements of Modernist Writing Essay

Elements of Modernist Writing Essay

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Catherine Mansfield, Elizabeth Bishop and William Carlos Williams were poets and writers of short fiction that belonged to the Modernist movement. The movement itself was triggered mostly by the industrial revolution and the horrors of World War I. It was an inter-continental movement and spread into all spheres and disciplines, such as art, philosophy, literature, architecture, music, culture and so on. During the movement of modernism, the individual moved into the spotlight, and it the human subjectivity and self-consciousness was themes around which most of the art and literary worked evolved. Modernist writers adopted the stream of consciousness; a literary technique used to describe the workings of the mind, and the ways in which thoughts and feelings combined to create a subjective reality. The brother of William James coined the term, and the technique was improved by Katherine Mansfield, but brought to perfection by Joyce. The most dominant Modernist movement in poetry was imagism and found new inspiration in the writings of Sappho, Catullus and Villon. Everything that was not written in that manner was intolerable. The imagists insisted on direct treatment of the subject and omitted every word that was unnecessary decorum. These three authors are representatives of the Modernist movement because their work contains all the elements of modernist writing: imagism, interior monologue, the need to explore the human condition and life in general.
Elizabeth Bishop’s “The Fish” and “This is Just to Say” are both imagist poems, which have an underlying Christian theme. In Christian religion, the fish is considered a symbol of Jesus Christ and in “This is Just to Say” reminds of the story of Eve eating the forbidden fruit. ...

... middle of paper ...

...a naughty twist to it. “The Fish” has a healing effect on the seemingly lost speaker, whereas the sneaky plum thief celebrates his little devilish deed. Even “The Garden Party” has a Christian theme, since it follows the love-thy-neighbor scheme. However, all three works are purely modernist works, whose major concern is the exploration of the human condition and self-consciousness.

Works Cited

Bishop, Elizabeth. “The Fish”. The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Gen. ed. Julia Reidhead. 5th
ed. New York: Norton, 2005. 1516-17. Print.
Mansfield, Catherine. “The Garden Party”. The Norton Anthology of English Literature. Gen.
ed. Stephen Greenblatt. 9th ed. Vol. F. New York: Norton, 2012. 2346-56. Print.
Williams, Carlos William. “This is Just to Say”. The Norton Anthology of Poetry. Gen. ed.
Julia Reidhead. 5th ed. New York: Norton, 2005. 1274. Print.

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