Wednesday, November 4, 2009

► Period between the wars: ‘Modernism’, a very general term used to talk about a series of different movements and tendencies (The ‘Avant-Garde’: impressionism, expressionism, imagism, futurism, dadaism, surrealism...) that tried to break with old tradition and the realistic concept of art.
► Modernism challenged the assumption of reality which is at the roots of realism: that there is a common phenomenal world that can be reliably described.
► Why? Lots of changes:
§ World War I (skeptical spirit)
§ New ideas like psychoanalysis and Marxism

Recorders of time
Conventional structure (Beginning/Middle/End)
Omniscient narrator
Literary language
Critical perspective
‘Passive’ Reader

Different ways of capturing reality (poetry: images)
Fragmented plots.
No chronological order
Variety of narrative voices. Stream of consciousness.
All types of language
Even more critical: Lost Generation
Active Reader (opacitiy)

► Different kinds of narrators:
§ First person narrator (major participant, as in Huck Finn, minor, as in The Great Gatsby, or even non-participant, as in The Scarlet Letter). At times, unreliable
§ Second person narrator. Quite uncommon. An example: Italo Calvino’s If on a Winter Night a Traveller.
§ Third person narrator. When the narration is in the third person, the focalization (Who sees?) becomes extremely important.
► Omniscient point of view (typical of 19th century realist novels)
► A dramatic or objective point of view (Hemingway’s short stories: the narrator is like the lens of a camera that simply records what s/he sees),
► A selected or limited point of view ( ‘Jamesian’: a character is the ‘focus’ or ‘center of consciousness’, and the reader sees the action through the focus of that character).

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