Modernism and the Novel -notes

Introducing Modernism

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Modernism and Joyce/Virginia Woolf/ Doestoevesky –lecture notes In the sculpture garden of the Museum of Modern Art stood Rodin’s 1897 statue, Monument to Balzac. The imposing figure is 10 ft tall and rests on a 5ft slab. It is often taken as a crystallizing image of Modernism, for it depicts the artist as an outcast and a hero. His features are boldly outlined but not precisely modeled, the head is disproportionate to the body, and the only visible feature is the feet with one foot ready to take off. Rodin presents the artist as an ubermensch , as a physical and moral giant indifferent to the opinions of his audience. Rodin’s Balzac is not someone who serves the community but someone who answers to the demands of his imagination and psyche; he does not imitate reality but transforms what he sees into something original. The great British Modernists- Conrad, Joyce, Lawrence, Forster and Woolf – withdraw from their work, eliminate the intrusive author and move to objectivity and impersonality but in fact by making themselves their subject, they created a more subjective, self expressive novel than their predecessors, and they are present in their works. Influenced by English romanticism, developments in modern art and a changing intellectual milieu that questioned the possibilities of universal values or objective truth, these novelists erased the boundaries between art and life. Each man carried his own reality and lived in what F.H. Bradley called a “closed circle”. 20thc British novelists also invented ways of seeing the human psyche in a more subtle and complex manner. While the Victorian novel focused on man in his social aspect, , Joyce, Conrad and Woolf isolate their characters from their community and focus on the perceiving psyche. The streams of consciousness within the soliloquy and interior monologue become more prominent. Since characters are often versions of the author who does not or cannot achieve distance, the experience and self-consciousness reflect those of the author. 19
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Modernism and the Novel -notes - Modernism and...

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