THE PHILOSOPHIC MATRIX OF MODERNISM, IMAGISM, CULTURAL BEARINGS, INFLUENCES By the beginning of the XX c. in England, the poetry cultivated was one in the line of the Romantic poetry. Relevant figures such as Rudgard Kipling and Oscar Wilde: Kipling’s poetry has a social use, official propaganda, in order to make the reader achieve social goals. The style is rhetorical and discursive. The language is the language of the public. (Morality) Oscar Wilde stands for another type of poetry, with the idea of “art for art’s shake”. There’s no relation between art and life, so it’s an aesthetic idea of art. Art is an isolated being, in touch with no material beauty. This kind of poetry expresses sadness, disdain; it rejects the mimetic, materialism, and it turns to the contemplation of beauty. (Beauty) So we can find two different trends: morality (Kipling) and beauty (Wilde). Some important poetry’s figures of the end of XIX and the beginning of the XX c. were Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe and Walt Whitman, but also the group called “The Fireside Poets” with Longfellow. There were writers and journalists who marked a style. This poetry of the 1850s is mainly romantic, with mythological imagination, with mournings… T.E. Hulme helped to change the poetic idiom (to find a poetic English language). Poems of that time were conventional, written for the mass to offer consolation. It must be taken into account that poetry in America was in hands of Ladies of society, most of whom did not work because of their economic privileges. However, their names did not survive, neither their anthologies. The atmosphere in America was so heavy that many writhers left it to go to Europe (Pound, Eliot, and H.D.) There are two types of Modernism: high modernism (they escape to Europe. E.g. Eliot, Pound…) and low modernism stay in USA. E.g. Emerson) The first ones wanted to look for a more cosmopolitan poetry, white poets who stayed wrote celebrating the vernacular in poetry such as Robert Frost with the local vision of popular culture. However, this division is not completely true. Major documents of this period:
1913: A Boy’s Will, Robert Frost.
1914: North of Boston
1914: Prufroc, Eliot
1915: Cantos, Pound
1922: The Waste Land, Eliot
1923: Spring and All, Williams Carlos Williams
1923: Harmonium, Stevens
1930: The Bridge, Hart Crane
Main institutions of Modernism
Modernism spreads out mainly through magazines. In 1912 Harriet Monroe formed a magazine called “Poetry” in Chicago, which she wanted to be the sky of a new aesthetic. Harriet asked Pound to help her because he was devoted to act in the promotion of new poets, selecting poems which showed the new modernist aesthetic. Pound published poems of H.D., Frost, Eliot and W.C. Williams, among others. Looking to escape from the old style, these poets wrote poems using new images and called themselves ‘Imagists’ (named after the French Symbolists, with Baudelaire and Laforge), using the French name ‘Des Imagistes’. “The Egoist” was an English journal directed by two women and founded for women’s rights. Pound made them change the name and it turned into the Avant-Garde style. Other journals were ‘The Little Review’ (in which Ulysses by Joyce was published in serial form). “Vanity Fair” or “The Dial” committed to publish new art. Each of these journals represented a movement of triumph, the growth of a new poetic idiom. They were devoted to art, poetry and painting, and all represented the same modern sensibility. However, they disappeared in the 1930s. Paris and London were two main centers of modernist culture. In London we find: The Bloomsbury group (Virginia Woolf)
The Adelphi (where D.H Laurence published his poems)
In spite of all these facts, boundaries of literary modernism are not clear because literature was influenced by painting, philosophy, architecture… One of the main features is the discontinuity. The...
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