Joyce Exam

Joyce Exam - Caroline Davis 15 June 2010 Irish Literature...

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Caroline Davis 15 June 2010 Irish Literature Dr. Nick Radel Prompt One: Modernist Style and Philosophy in Joyce’s Portrait The early half of the twentieth century generated a number of artistic and ideological breakthroughs collectively referred to as the Modernist movement. During this time, Pablo Picasso defied the laws of traditional artistic perspective with his work in Cubism, futurist composers like Luigi Russolo created music without the constraints of melody, and writers like Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner used unconventional stream-of-consciousness narrations to turn their readers into active participants in their novels (“Modernism”). What united these artists was a shared belief in individualism and escape from social convention. At the forefront of this movement was author James Joyce. In the years that immediately preceded the First World War, Joyce wrote A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man , a novel that helped shape and exemplify the characteristics of Modernist literature in a period fraught with political unrest and doubt in traditional institution. Modernism centered on a critical examination of the values and beliefs held in society. The artists and philosophers of this movement challenged absolute truths within religion and government, causing a re-evaluation of everything in life, even the ordinary. In a letter to fellow Irish writer Lady Gregory, James Joyce wrote, “All things are
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inconstant except the faith in the soul, which changes all things and fills their inconstancy with light, but though I seem to be driven out of my country as a misbeliever I have found no man yet with a faith like mine” (Ellmann 107). Though some considered this outlook pessimistic and even blasphemous, it was viewed by free-thinkers as a way to make sense of a chaotic, broken world. Moreover, it was used as an outlet to criticize and offer alternative solutions to the aspects of society with which they disagreed. Within literature, Modernism was demonstrated through a specific style of writing in addition to an overall ideology. Modernist writers often incorporated stream-of- consciousness narration, disjointed timelines, classical allusions, and metacognition to further convey the themes about which they wrote. This was also the first time where the critical success of a novel did not necessarily guarantee popularity among the public. Before Modernist literature, critically acclaimed works were generally very coherent and narrative. By comparison, Modernist writing was considered very difficult. In his book Modernist Fiction: an Introduction , Randall Stevenson writes, “Since readers of a writerly or modernist text are more involved in producing its meanings and values for themselves, they are more likely to avoid simply accepting those of the author” (217). Though the works of Joyce and others were almost automatically recognized as great pieces of literature by critics and scholars, their discontinuous writing styles and
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This note was uploaded on 07/23/2010 for the course ENG 423 taught by Professor Radel during the Fall '10 term at Furman.

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Joyce Exam - Caroline Davis 15 June 2010 Irish Literature...

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