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Modernism was probably the most dominant literary movement or trend in the early 20th Century. The advancement of a doctrine that stressed the lack of a unifying order or principle helps to take greater shape and definable form with the commencement and conclusion of World War I. The lack of faith in structure and order and the embrace of a world set in motion through chaos and an accompanying sense of disillusion helped to drive much of the literature and thought of the early 20th Century. I think that modernism and its expression in writers and works of the time period must help to make it a significant literary trend of the time, helping to shape the paradigm for the century.
Along with the Modernist movement was Minimalism, a movement in which the work is stripped down to its most fundamental features. The aim of Minimalism is to allow the reader to examine the work more intensely without the distraction of composition, theme, etc. Raymond Carver is a 20th century author who employs this technique.
You also would benefit to look beyond modernism to postmodernism, which in many ways rejects some of the key tenets of modernism and "plays" with literature and genre in often highly amusing and different ways. One excellent example is the author David Mitchell, who writes postmodern fiction that really "breaks the mould" of what we have come to call a novel - Cloud Atlas is one of my personal favourites.
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