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The Contemporary Age

THE CONTEMPORARY AGE (1950 –    )

HISTORY:

  • WW II lasts 6 years (1939-1945)
  • After WW II – the beginning of post-war reconstruction and large-scale immigration from the former colonies (India)
  • The world is dominated by the U.S and the Soviet Union

ECONOMY AND SOCIETY:

  • Post-war reconstruction began in the 1940s
  • High-powered consumer society
  • The rise in the level of education

IDEOLOGY AND CULTURE:

Contemporary literature is difficult to classify; its diversity reflects the fragmentary kaleidoscope of modern existence;

Modernism and Post-modernism coexist in contemporary British literature and are the two main literary orientations.

                 ModernismPost-modernism
Poetry
– 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 sceptical of language and its notion of coherence;
– Disrupted syntax;
– Free verse;
– Focus on images and symbols;
Prose:
– Non-chronological;
– Experiments with time representation and perception: literary devices – temporal juxtapositions, sudden jumps;
– Focus on the inner world of the character: literary devices – stream of consciousness, memory, perception;
– The plot is replaced by specific modernist patterns: time, place, character, leitmotifs, symbols, mythic patterns, and cinematic devices (space and time montage);
– Theme: atemporal, eternal conflicts of the soul, philosophy;
– Range: limited, presented subjectively. Life is chaotic, disordered, fragmentary;
– Narration: subjective, limited point of view or combination of points of view;
Structure: open form.
– Pragmatic;
– Eludes definition;
– Eclectic flexibility;
– Playfulness;
– Irony;
– Parody;
– Experimental;
– Challenges authority;
– Uses simple language and complex structure;
– The boundaries of art are ignored;
– The intertextual technique (brings together a variety of literary styles from the past and present);
– Freedom to express views that are different from the norm;
– Literary genres become mixed.  

LITERATURE:

POETRY:

  • Ted Hughes – Modernist poetry;
  • Philip Larkin – Modernist poetry;

FICTION:

  • George Orwell – social and political novels (continuous activity during Modernist and contemporary age);
  • William Golding – social novels;
  • Anthony Burgess – dystopian novels;
  • Salman Rushdie – post-modern novels.

DRAMA:

  • Samuel Beckett – existentialist plays about the absurdity of life.