Modernism & Poetry James Joyce th 20 • • • • • • • • Century Change was fast and intense at the turn of the 20th century. The world was being transformed by the flood of new inventions and new concepts – movies, radio, assembly lines and suburbs, comic strips and much more came along for the first time. People could suddenly fly, travel by automobile, control disease and anything seemed possible. However these great changes were colliding with the social, political and economic systems that were outmoded and unresponsive. Around the planet, there were riots, political turmoil, and labor unrest; in Russia, Mexico, and China there were full-scale revolutions. Traditional beliefs seemed to be in decay, and newer, more extreme ideas began to germinate: embryonic versions of communism and fascism were beginning to emerge. Instability spilled over into international relations. It was an age when everything seemed to be up for grabs, and the Great Powers became ever more aggressive in the pursuit of supremacy, while ambitious smaller nations opportunistically played for advantage. Crisis followed crisis until statesmen lost the will to avoid a complete breakdown. In the end, this promising era collapsed into the immense catastrophe of the First World War and the Second World War. Modernism: Definition • Modernism is a literary and cultural international movement which flourished in the first decades of the 20th century. Modernism is not a term to which a single meaning can be ascribed . It may be applied both to the content and to the form of a work, or to either in isolation. It reflects a sense of cultural crisis which was both exciting and disquieting , in that it opened up a whole new vista of human possibilities at the same time as putting into question any previously accepted means of grounding and evaluating new ideas. Modernism is marked by experimentation , particularly manipulation of form , and by the realization that knowledge is not absolute . Modernism: Movement • • • • • • • • The modernism movement is not just related to literature but also to: The sciences Philosophy Psychology Anthropology Painting Music Sculpture Architecture Modernism and Literature • In terms of literature, a text is not an author’s pure and conscious intention; it reflects elements of a culture and a discourse that existed long before the author did. Roland Barthes makes a similar point in “The Death of the Author” when he suggests that “a text is not a line of words releasing a single ‘theological’ meaning (188). • A writer cannot be aware of all of the influences on his or her work, so the significance of a work of literature is not necessarily the same for the writer as for the reader, especially when the two are separated in time and place. • Modernist writers were greatly affected by what was occurring around them in all aspects of life, such as art, music, technology, etc. This is greatly reflected in their work and very obvious. Ideas in Modernist Works • • • • • • • • • • • • • Intentional distortion of shapes Focus on form rather than meaning Breaking down of limitation of space and time Breakdown of social norms and cultural values Dislocation of meaning and sense from its normal context Valorisation of the despairing individual in the face of an unmanageable future Disillusionment Rejection of history and the substitution of a mythical past Need to reflect the complexity of modern urban life Importance of the unconscious mind Interest in the primitive and non-western cultures Impossibility of an absolute interpretation of reality Overwhelming technological changes Characteristics of Modernism Literature (1900-1950s) • Writers at this time were highly experimental seeking a unique style • Increased use of monologue and stream of consciousness • Poetry greatly increased following the deaths of Whitman and Dickinson • Composers reflected the ideas of Darwin (survival of the fittest) and Karl Marx (how money and class structure control a nation) • WWI and WWII had a great influence on the modernist composers’ works • There was an overwhelming technological advancement and changes in the 20th century • Rise of the youth culture as they become more outspoken • The Harlem Renaissance – a literary movement in the 1920s that fostered a new black cultural identity Modernism: Features of Poetry • Use of free verse • Juxtaposition of ideas rather than consequential exposition • Intertextuality • Use of allusions and multiple association of words • Borrowings from other cultures and languages • Unconventional use of metaphor • Importance given to sound to convey “the music of ideas” Free Verse Poems • Use of poetic line • Flexibility of line length • Massive use of alliteration and assonance • No use of traditional metre • No regular rhyme scheme • Use of visual images in distinct lines James Joyce (1882-1941) • • • • • • • James Joyce was a Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century He is best known for Ulysses (1922), a landmark novel which perfected his stream of consciousness technique. During his career Joyce suffered from rejections from publishers, suppression by censors, attacks by critics, and misunderstanding by readers. From 1902 Joyce led a nomadic life. Other major works are the short-story collection Dubliners (1914) and the novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and his complete oeuvre includes three books of poetry. In his early twenties he emigrated permanently to continental Europe, living in Trieste, Paris and Zurich. Though most of his adult life was spent abroad, Joyce's fictional universe does not extend beyond Dublin, and is populated largely by characters who closely resemble family members, enemies and friends from his time there; Ulysses in particular is set with precision in the streets and alleyways of the city. He was born in to a a lower-middle class family. He was educated by Jesuits at Clongowes Wood College, at Clane, and then at Belvedere College in Dublin (189397). In 1898 he entered the University College, Dublin. At the outset of the First World War, Joyce moved with his family to Zürich. In Zürich Joyce started to develop the early chapters of Ulysses, which was first published in France because of censorship troubles in the Great Britain and the United States, where the book became legally available only in 1933.After the fall of France in WWII, Joyce returned to Zürich, where he died on January 13, 1941. I Hear an Army Charging Upon the Land I hear an army charging upon the land, And the thunder of horses plunging, foam about their knees: Arrogant, in black armor, behind them stand, Disdaining the reins, with fluttering whips, the charioteers. They cry unto the night their battle-name I moan in sleep when I hear afar their whirling laughter. They cleave the gloom of dreams, a blinding flame. Clanging, clanging upon the heart as upon an anvil. They come shaking in triumph their long, green hair: They come out of the sea and run shouting by the shore. My heart, have you no wisdom thus to despair? My love, my love, my love, why have you left me alone? Analysis • • • • • In "I Hear An Army" by James Joyce, the poet is perhaps re-telling a nightmare in which an army is approaching him on horses. Joyce uses surreal images to express his dream. Sound also appears to be vital to the understanding of the poem which is emphasised through the opening of “I hear” inviting the reader to use their listening sense. The poem also seems to have a musical nature with the use of repetition, onomatopoeia and assonance of long vowels (Clanging, blinding, flame, etc) But what is the nightmare about? Is it a nightmare of personal calamity, provoked by anxiety over the loss of a loved one ("my love, why have you left me alone")? Or is the nightmare a political prophecy of World War I? The poem was written in 1904, about ten years before "the Great War" began. In the years preceding the war, there was already rattling amongst the European military powers which alarmed citizens of all Western countries. In this poem, Joyce, as the poet-dreamer, feels terrified by the war. When he cries out, "My love . . . why have you left me/ alone?" the "love" he addresses, in this case, may be civilization in general. Rampaging charioteers, and thunder and lightning ("a blinding flame") conjure up visions of the end of the world as depicted in the Book of in The New Testament. Revelation describes how the angels of the Lord open up the gates to "the bottomless pit" and unleash "an army of two hundred thousand thousand horsemen" (Rev. 9:16-17) to slay all the sinners of the world. But these horrifying horsemen only destroy evil people, and therefore their ultimate purpose is noble. In contrast, it is hard to guess at the purpose of the demonic army in Joyce's poem, though at first glance they seem only intent on inciting mayhem and terror. Joyce could be suggesting that the war is like the end of the world, only there no good in that, as it is not for a noble purpose and will only bring destruction. Further Analysis • • • • • • • Joyce uses many words that have “dark” and “negative” conations. Words such as “black”, “night” and “gloom”. Many of the words in the poem are demonic, predicting death and destruction. Horses are sometimes associated with demons since "witches [and even the devil himself] can easily change into horses”. Horses are also associated with death. Death often appears on horseback. For example, in Revelation 6:8 Death is depicted as riding a horse. The colour black is also associated with evil and is apparent throughout the poem (“black armor”, “night”). Also some words in the poem that usually have positive associations, have instead negative ones. The sea usually has a positive effect as it originates life, however in the poem the horses come out of the sea on, delivering death instead, which is ironic. The assonance of long vowels ("clanging", "blinding", "flame", "cleave", "green", "sea") imitates a prolonged cry of pain from the person suffering the nightmare, or imitates the shrill battle cries of the horsemen. Onomatopoeic words are important here since they put you into the middle of the nightmare where you can hear the sound of the army and the anxiety of the dreamer. There is also quite a lot of repetition of words and phrases. The repetition of "my love, my love, my love" imitates the fast pounding heartbeat of the nightmare victim as well as emphasizing his earnestness. Other effective repetitions are "clanging, clanging" and the word "they" in "They cry", "They cleave", "They come". These repetitions highlight the military rhythm of the pounding hooves. The last word in the poem is "alone" on a line by itself, providing a feeling of utter desolation and embodying the meaning of the word and thus emphasising its meaning. Activity: Bingo • I will read some questions that have been answered in this presentation, the answers are on your bingo cards. You are to mark the answers using a highlighter or a pen. Questions ?