At the beginning of the 20th century, the U.S started to change its relations with the world and ended its isolation from international conflicts.
The U.S was the world’s richest and most powerful nation;
The U.S got involved in WW I (1917) and WW II (1941). The involvement in WWII was a consequence of the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbour;
The U.S dropped the first atomic bomb used in the war on Hiroshima and Nagasaki;
After WWII the U.S took over the role of leader of the Western World, establishing the Marshall Aid plan and NATO.
ECONOMY AND SOCIETY:
The 1920s were called “the roaring twenties”. It was a period of excess and enjoyment.
1920-1933 ̵ the Prohibition: the ban on alcohol, clubs are illegal but they function underground and alcohol is trafficked.
1929 ̵ the prosperity comes to a sudden end because of The Great Depression ̵ millions of people lose jobs and the economy suffers an abrupt decline;
Despite the economic hardships of the 1930s, society evolved:
Women of the jazz era embraced new roles; they had more freedom, danced, drank, went clubbing.
Fashion changed radically.
After WWII (1945) the economy enjoys a boom;
The consumer society is born:
The middle class prospers and has access to higher education.
Britain’s economic and military position was weakened by the wars;
After World War I, debt and unemployment led to:
The General Strike (1926)
The World Economic Depression (1930)
Women started to take on new roles:
The Suffragette movement led to women being granted the right to vote;
Women enjoyed more freedom, unlike in the Victorian era, when they were generally housebound.
The start of the 20th century marked a dramatic rise in the number of writers and readers.
IDEOLOGY AND CULTURE:
Modernism is characterized by a sharp break from
The traditions of the Western civilization
Modernist writers rebel against all previous literature and Western models, they are angry and disillusioned with the savage war and its consequences.
Writers have a godless worldview;
Breakdown of traditional values;
Modernism is a reaction against realism and naturalism, which aimed at representing reality as we see it;
Modernism is influenced by:
Einstein’s theory of relativity;
Freud’s psychological studies;
Marx’s political theories.
Rejection of diction, as it is considered unsuitable for an era of technological breakthroughs and global violence;
Break with Romantic ideas (the notion of sublime);
Poetry becomes skeptical of language and its notion of coherence;
Focus on images and symbols;
Deliberately difficult style;
Use of imagistic content: narrative continuity and poetic structure are reduced to fragments. Fragments are connected implicitly;
Use of allusion: isolated fragments, quotes, phrases that represent the fragmentation of contemporary culture.
THE AUTHOR AND HIS WORK
American-born became a British citizen in 1927;
A central figure in English-language modernist poetry;
Born in a rich family in Boston;
Studied philosophy at Harvard, then moved to England;
Worked as a bank clerk;
Wrote poetry and criticism.
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock”
“The Waste Land”
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