Modernism versus Modernismo

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Modernism versus Modernismo

Both Modernism and Modernismo were movements around the turn of the 20th century which caused cultural upheaval and renovation in times where the society was, or needed to be, changing. Modernism took place throughout Europe and in the United States, while Modernismo was a Latin American movement. The two movements share several general characteristics, but were, without a doubt, two separate and distinct movements, and should not be confused. Therefore, it is useful to clarify the causes, characteristics, and effects of each movement, comparing their similarities and contrasting their differences.


In the United States, modernism began in the late 1910s, was at its peak in the 1920s, and began to recede in the 1930s as the Depression took hold. World War One was the definitive factor which led to this movement. No one alive had been through such a strenuous experience before, and the literary world, as well as the rest of the Western world, was shaken to its foundation (Harmon 298). Faith in modern Western civilization had been shaken, and disillusionment with modern society was widespread. The authors of the time who went on to form the Modernist movement, did not feel that the literary styles in use up to that point were adequate means of expressing the chaos which they were now witnesses to. They felt that a new period of history required a new literary medium to express it.

Modernism was characterized initially by a radical, utopian spirit, and, as WWI progressed, by an increased self-awareness and introspective attitude, and a willingness and desire to explore issues about humanity which had, up to that point, been overlooked, or considered taboo (Merriam-Webster 770). The ...

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... styles, as a result of the experimentalism which was so important in both situations. Times were changing for both sets of writers, and new forms of literary expression were necessary. These forms were, in both cases, a break away from the norms of their respective modern societies, and caused a stir which led to re-examination of ideas once taken for granted.

Works Cited

Abrams, M. H. A Glossary of Literary Terms, 6th Edition. Ft. Worth, Texas: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1993. 119.

Harmon, William, and C. Hugh Holman. A Handbook to Literature. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1992. 298-299.

Merriam-Webster's Encyclopedia of Literature. Springfield, MA: Merriam-Webster Inc, Publishers, 1995. 770.

Steinberg, S. H., Editor. Cassell's Encyclopedia of World Literature, Vol. 1. New York: William Morrow &Co., Inc, 1973. p. 380.
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