I need a list concerning the literary techniques used in modernism.  Can someone please help?

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm going back to my college notes on this one.  From Irving Howe's Classics of Modern Fiction, 1986.  He defines modernism as:

a cultural outlook that insists that human existence is profoundly and inherently problematic

AND

human beings are caught up in a constant struggle to recreate freshly the terms of their lives, rather than having simply to abide by commandments that have been handed down to us

AND

it insists that the classical precepts which are supposed to contain the wisdom of the past no longer help men very much.

Here are some additional points he makes, using Notes from Underground as his primary text (my paraphrasing):

  • intelligences is a disease: it dooms us to pride and self-love
  • man is split between action and observation
  • it is impossible to separate pride from humility: each masks the other
  • consciousness leads to self-division and alienation: it leads to rifts between society and self and even within the self
  • man is split between desire (pathos, id) and reason (logos, ego)
  • man in split between desire for personal freedom and submission to authority
  • the only freedom that matters is freedom of choice
  • those who try to reform humanity (liberals, socialists) end up controlling and taking away the freedoms they set out to protect
  • suffering is inevitable: it is the only redeeming quality in life
Read the study guide:
The Great Gatsby

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