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Features of Twentieth Century Literature Essay

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20th century is the age of modernism in literature. 20th century’s literature follows differently from the 19th century literature, because of importance given to presentation of human consciousness and human psychology. As result new narrative techniques like impressionism and stream of consciousness has been introduced, the purpose of whom is to highlight human perception. Impressionism has been adopted by many writers, replacing realism. 20th century is an age of emphasis on inner reality, therefore psychoanalysis and human psychology is an important part of literature.

Experience is given structural support by, motifs, myths, and parallel themes. Isolation and, loss of hope in humanity are one of the salient themes of modern literature. E. M. Forster, Joseph Conrad and James Joyce are three prominent writers of the twentieth century, who applied modern techniques and themes in their novels. Human consciousness is an important aspect of 20th century novel. Human, thoughts, feelings and stimulations are much important constituent of the century s fiction. In fact “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” is like a little world of Stephen’s mind, which is a result of an evolutionary process.

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Ulysses can be called the story of thought life of Stephen and Morgan within one day. Stream of consciousness is an emergent technique of 20th century novel, employed to explain human thoughts, feelings and stimulations. Stream of consciousness describes the flow of thoughts and feelings in the mind without a sequence, in other words in natural order.. Used for the first time by William James, Joyce gives new meanings to it by using in his novels, A Portrait, Ulysses and Finnegan’s Wake . Joyce makes use of stream of consciousness technique In Ulysses Mr Prince dines alone in a restaurant .

Joyce takes us to his mind journey; an internal monologue “here is the soup, the smoking soup. Be careful that the waiter does not splash me… in’ A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” Stephen’s flow of thoughts is revealed when he meets a man besides the bridge. : it must be eleven he thought……….. as he turned away he heard a clock somewhere near him… he laughed as he heard it as it made him think of Mac Cann”. Isolation is an evident theme of 20th century literature. Stephen in” A Portrait of The Artist as a Young Man ”is detached from his world.

Stephen is an individual who wants to break free from the barriers of nationalism, religion and society. Stephen is standing apart from his fellows and peers,”but he apart from them and in silence, remembered in what dread he stood… ” Experience gets a structural support in modern literature, through parallel themes and use of myths. Ulysses is written parallel to odyssey. A portrait of the artist as a young man has the myth of Daedulus employed in it. In the writing of English fiction, the narrative technique has shifted from realism to a new method of impressionism.

The purpose of impressionism is to lay stress on human perception and knowledge. It began from the work of Walter Pater and Henry James to flourish in the hands of, James Joyce, among others. Impressionism is vivid in “A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man”. Joyce uses impressionism in the epiphanic moment of Stephen’s life when he comes to know that he cannot repress nature and therefore his natural inclinations”. She seemed like one whom magic had changed into the likeness of a strange and beautiful seabird.. :”

Impressionism is also employed in Joseph Conrad’s ”Heart of Darkness”, which is a journey from darkness to light for Marlowe. Therefore he perceives things, learns and gets knowledge by interpreting things around him. Conrad employs impressionism for this process. .”Near the same tree two more bundles of acute angles sat with their legs drawn up…… his brother phantom rested his forehead…….. ” Imperialism and colonization is one of the modern themes in 20th century English literature. A Passage to India and, Heart of Darkness throw light on manipulation by man when he is in power.

Both works utilize Britain’s Age of Empire as a backdrop for the narratives and they explore British attitudes and behavior in the foreign locales of the imperial frontier. Ivory has a strong drive for white man and he does not leave any chance to get it. The action of each work takes place against the backdrop of Empire Heart of Darkness has the morbidity and pathos of modern literature, as it shows the gruesome face of mankind. Conrad has lack of hope in the modern man. Therefore Heart of Darkness raises important questions about the development of civilization.

The civilized man plays havoc with the surroundings of the jungle, unchecked by rules and regulations. The developed society thus is held questionable. The white man plays a worse role than the barbaric who according to Marlowe’s observation probably don’t even know the concept of time. Heart of darkness is also a journey of self realization, both of Marlowe and Kurtz. Marlowe has a passion for maps since childhood. Maps lead towards new ways and help in exploration. Marlowe explores human self and the rotten truths of colonization during his journey up to the river to meet Kurtz.

Heart of darkness has the perspective quality of 20th century literature. Conrad places the narrator inside the action of the story in order to remain impersonal. The narrator has an individual voice he interprets the things in his own way and thus we see a perspective of an individual. Conrad does not project any ideology or theory, but just scans the grim faces of mankind. A Passage to India by E. M. Forster is a novel on colonial rule and differences between the natives and British are revealed.

It is a relationship between colonized and the colonizer. It discusses the modern problem of clash between cultures . It is a discourse on the cultural differences between two nations. In A Passage to India, the story of Adela Quested false accusation against the Indian Dr. Aziz ,that he attempted to rape her on an expedition to the Marabar Caves, becomes symbolic of the distortions of understanding and interpretation that can occur between cultures, and of the injustice that inevitably occurs when one people holds power over another .

The passage to India is a discourse on the in understandable existence of man. It has the questions about the man’s existence which are the feature of 20th century literature. Marabar Caves themselves are an important symbol Their freezing regularity, hard to decipher echo that follows any sound made within them, come to represent the nullity of human action, the meaninglessness of existence. As in all 20th century literature the psychological effect of the colonization is clear in a passage to India.

The British people cannot come out of the psychological influence that they are a much exotic race than the Orientals, where as the natives are hostile to them. As a result it ends up that with their given psychologies the two nations cannot unite. Ms Adela quested cannot stand the reality, the real India and her illusion becomes symbolic of the psychological crisis. Ms Moore undergoes a transformation as compared to other English men.

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