Modernism and Experience Essay

Modernism and Experience Essay

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When seeking to describe or analyze Modernist literature, and the Modernist era as a whole, it is essential to keep in mind that these writers were challenging many core beliefs regarding being, both in relation to one’s self, as well as in the external world. Out of the many things Modernist literature does, one of the arguable contentions is that Modernity seeks to collapse the idea that the external and internal are separate. In modern writing, writers such as Joyce and Woolf make a move to disrupt traditional literary forms to push the concepts of truth, belief, and knowledge through the synthesis of experience in the visceral/physical world. Instead of direct being-in-the-world experience “playing the strings” of human perception and interpretation, modernist writers began using the sublime confrontation of the unfamiliar to push the limits of understanding, interpretation, and perspective to provoke new and/or alternate ways of looking at a world that often progressed faster than the existing structures of knowledge and order could compensate for in a direct and linear manner.
However, Modernist views can be interpreted and viewed in any number of ways; a challenge or reversal of the internal impressing upon the external experience of egotistical sublime type of thinking, a la Wordsworth and the Romantic era poets; Or how the world plays us, even as we perceive we are playing with the world. When looking to previous forms, particularly within the directly preceding Victorian era, literature worked from the outside in, presenting narrators/characters that present their positioning and interaction in the world wholly externally – the “heart on their sleeve” blueprint, where the author is completely mixed with the external wo...


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... where as visceral phenomena is not.
Finally, while we cannot control the hermeneutical or interpretive use of literature as time shifts and new questions are posed, modernist literature is still carrying out its agenda by leaving the experiential aspects up to us – is Joyce’s narrator in “Araby” ever going to find any of the fantasy-driven ideas in his head fulfilled in even a fractional fashion? Will Mr. Ramsay ever extend his knowledge past his current limits, without his sole/soul supporter, Mrs. Ramsay? These questions reflect the questions of a modern society with no direct answers in religion, politics, or community, and allow an audience to formulate the interpretations and experience as they fit amongst the other knowledge in life. And that “immortality” of being may be an authorial fallacy, but becomes a partial result of Modernist works of literature.

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