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Art "isms" Influences on Literature of the 20th CenturyHow might Impressionism,...

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user21 | Student, College Freshman | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 16, 2008 at 11:38 PM via web

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Art "isms" Influences on Literature of the 20th Century

How might Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, Dadaism and Surrealism have influenced 20th century literature?

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jamie-wheeler | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted March 17, 2008 at 12:13 PM (Answer #2)

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This is an enormous topic; any of these movements and their influence on literature could be the subject of a master's or doctoral thesis.  But I'll try to give you some help in regard to cubism. 

Cubism might best be found in the writings of Gertrude Stein.  Cubism is "the hidden process made visible."  Stein is attempting to show in literature what the cubists of the time were experimenting with in painting; that is, how any object, in Stein's case often American life, can be viewed from many angles and many different perspectives.   Take "The Making of Americans."  The objects of Stein's perception are the American family life, the struggles betweent he claims of art and life, home and freedom, and between the European past and the American future.

Stein calls it the "strange disease of modern life."  Think of it like a game of Tetris.   If you've read any Stein at all, you'll notice how the words are piled upon words in such rapid succession that the meaning becomes almost unidentifiable. 

Just as cubism isolated perspective moments in wavelike motion, so too did Stein sentences specifically attack the depth of realism.   The effect was a literary rendering of the cubist art. 

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alexb2 | eNotes Employee

Posted March 17, 2008 at 12:46 PM (Answer #3)

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I believe one good place to look would be at Paris in the 1920's. Many of the movements you describe were burgeoning in Paris at that time, and at the same time authors like Gertrude Stein, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, and F. Scott Fitzgerald were writing. They couldn't help but be influenced by the artists around them, and Pablo Picasso, Apollinaire, Igor Stravinsky etc. were known to hang out personally with Stein and Hemingway.

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