Discuss the origins and development of Modernism. How is it represented in 20th century British literature and culture?
Modernism is one of those terms that is attached to a present moment in history, but becomes misleading and clumsy as time (and literature) moves on. At the time of its naming, it referred to a departure from artificial constructions and imaginative narrative structures as seen in Romanticism, Victorianism, and 19th century technology. In literature it was an embrace of the real world and its dramas and social states – Ibsen’s dramas are an excellent model for domestic modernism. In English literature, it is represented by Dickens, who painted pictures of British life much less picturesque than earlier novelists – compare Oliver Twist’s mise-en-scene in contrast to Bronte’s. In poetry, modernism released poetry from rhyme and meter, giving us Eliot’s The Wasteland and The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. The period, traditionally lasting until some time between the World Wars, was followed by what is now called post-modernism, including Futurism/Dada/Surrealism, etc.