THE MODERNIST PERIOD Between 1914 and 1965, modernism gained power. England in the twentieth century witnessed great changes in political and military spheres. The terrible destruction of World War I left many people with the feeling of society falling apart. Modernist authors felt betrayed by the war, believing the institutions in which they were taught to believe had led the civilized world into a bloody conflict. They no longer considered these institutions as reliable means to access the meaning of life, and therefore turned within themselves to discover the answers.
Characteristic features of modernism. Marked by a strong and intentional break with tradition. This break includes a strong reaction against established religious, political, and social views. Belief that the world is created in the act of perceiving it; that is, the world is what we say it is. There is no such thing as absolute truth. All things are relative. No connection with history or institutions. Their experience is that of alienation, loss, and despair. Championship of the individual and celebration of inner strength. Life is unordered. Concerned with the sub-conscious.
representatives. James Joyce (from Dublin, Ireland) - His most experimental and famous work, Ulysses, completely abandons generally accepted notions of plot, setting, and characters. Ford Madox Ford - The Good Soldier examines the negative effects of war. Virginia Woolf - To the Lighthouse, as well, strays from conventional forms, focusing on Stream of Consciousness. Aldous Huxley - Brave New World protests against the dangers and nature of modern society. D. H. Lawrence - His novels reflected on the dehumanizing effect of modern society.
WILLIAM SOMERSET MAUGHAM(1874 – 1965)“We are not the same persons this year as last; nor are those we love. It is a happy chance if we, changing, continue to love a changed person.”“I always find it more difficult to say the things I mean than the things I don't.”“It’s a very funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.”
LIFE AND WORKS English novelist, playwright, and short-story writer whose work is characterized by a clear, sophisticated settings, and a sharp understanding of human nature. Maugham was born in Paris, the 4th surviving son of a lawyer attached to the British embassy. His mother died when he was 8. His father died in 1884, and William was sent to Whinstable to live with a childless middle-aged aunt and clergyman uncle. He was educated at King’s School, Canterbury. After a year at Heidelberg, he entered St. Thomas’ medical school, London, and qualified as a doctor in 1897. His first novel, Liza of Lamberth (1897), described his experience of slums and Cockney life.
In 1907 he achieved fame with the production of “Lady Frederic”, a comedy of marriage and money. During World War I he worked as a secret agent. After the war he resumed his interrupted travels and, in 1928, bought a villa on Cape Ferrat in the south of France, which became his permanent home. His reputation as a novelist rests primarily on four books: Of Human Bondage (1915), a semi-autobiographical account of a young medical student’s painful progress toward maturity; The Moon and Sixpence (1919), an account of an unconventional artist, suggested by the life of Paul Gauguin; Cakes and Ale (1930), the story of a famous novelist, which is thought to contain caricatures of Thomas Hardy and Hugh Walpole; and The Razor’s Edge (1944), the story of a young American war veteran’s quest for a satisfying way of life.
Maugham’s plays, mainly Edwardian social comedies, soon became dated, but his short stories have increased in popularity. Many portray the conflict of Europeans in alien surroundings that provoke strong emotions, and Maugham’s skill in handling plot, in the manner of Guy de Maupassant, is distinguished by economy and suspense. In The Summing Up (1938) and A Writer’s Notebook (1949) Maugham explains his philosophy of life as a resigned atheism and a certain skepticism about the extent of man’s innate goodness and intelligence; it is this that gives his work its astringent cynicism.