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Aestheticism and Modernism - Book Report/Review Example

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(Bertolt, 1964, 139) Modernism was a direct response to such events like the Russian Revolution, the industrial revolution, technological change, World War 1 and the depression. Industrialization brought about the machines and buildings of cast iron, offering a radically different urban life. Darwin's theory of natural selection and Freud's view of subjective states that involved an unconscious mind full of primal impulses shocked the Victorians. And as the names of Darwin and Freud suggest, it was the intellectuals and upper class that became part of the modernist age
Among these artists was T.S. Eliot. Eliot's concerns deeply showed the affect of WWI on the moral values of people and people's belief in God. Industrialization drastically increased production and consumption rates, with that so did pollution, creating a very ugly metropolis. In response to this industry, there was an increase in urbanization as more people wanted to move closer to work and money, hence the sense of crowdedness in Eliot's poems. Influxes of human population meant more pollution. The Depression played an important part in developing the persona of the modern man. This was a time of decline in a man's dignity and much humiliation from not being able to fend for his family.One of the prime concerns that characterized Modernist texts was the depiction of the cityscape as the habitat of the modern man. ...
(Eagleton, 1970, 94-101)
T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and "The Journey of the Magi" reveal some of the major concerns of their early 20th century Modernist context. Through continuous use of imagery, ambiguity, repetition, allusions and purposeful contortion of lines and sentences, Eliot demonstrates the importance of the inner self, innovation, religious questioning, an uninviting and bleak society and a flaunting of conventions, themes commonly associated with Modernism and the period after WWI. Prufrock, contrasting to the conventional expressive love song, is a dramatic monologue that concentrates the despondent character thrashing at the back of worthless communal masquerades in cities while Magi offers a negative examination of the journey of the Three Wise Men to the birth of Christ and details the alienation of one magus for whom it results in the death of his world. This pessimistic cynicism towards life is a marking trait of Eliot's poetry.
The first segment of Prufrock introduces a penchant for chaos and Prufrock's paralysis in the desolation of modern living. The opening quote from Dante suggests Prufrock is confined in an earthly Hell. The simile of the "sky/like a patient etherealised on a table" destroys any romantic ambience and creates a smothering, polluted image. Set in the slums of a metropolis, Prufrock describes the "muttering retreats", "cheap hotels" and "sawdust restaurants" in "half-deserted streets". This imagery of a torturously impersonal city, its seedy atmosphere and "tedious" routine as well as a general sense of disorderliness and aimlessness is emphasized by the application of enjambment and unpatterned rhyme. Yellow smoke and fog, resembling the pathetic ...Show more
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The modernist period lies from 1900-1950;a time of great progress in art,architecture and literature.Modernism,the genre that was associated with this period,featured radical aesthetics,technical experimentation and scepticism of the real world…
Aestheticism and Modernism
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