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Some Attributes of Modernist Literature
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The (re)presentation of inner (psychological) reality, including the 'flow' of experience, through devices such as stream of consciousness. The use of such structural approaches to experience as psychoanalysis, myth, the symbolic apprehension and comprehension of reality. The use of interior or symbolic landscape: the world is moved 'inside', structured symbolically or metaphorically -- as opposed to the Romantic interaction with transcendent forces acting through the exterior world, and Realist representations of the exterior world as a physical, historical, contiguous site of experience. David Lodge suggests in Modes of Modern Writing that the realist mode of fiction is based on metonomy, or contiguity, and the modernist mode is based on metaphor, or substitution. Time is moved into the interior as well: time becomes psychological time (time as innerly experienced) or symbolic time (time or measures of time as symbols, or time as it accommodates a symbolic rather than a historical reality), not the 'historical' or railway time of realism. Time is used as well more complexly as a structuring device through a movement backwards and forwards through time, the juxtaposing of events of different times, and so forth. A turn to 'open' or ambiguous endings, again seen to be more representative of 'reality' -- as opposed to 'closed' endings, in which matters are resolved. The search for symbolic ground or an ontological or epistemic ground for reality, especially through the device of 'epiphany' (Joyce), 'inscape' (Hopkins), 'moment of being' (Woolf), 'Jetztzeit' (Benjamin) (no, evidently not the source of 'jet-set') -- the moment of revelation of a reality beneath and grounding appearances. This relates as well to the move to tighten up form, to move experience inwards, and to explore the structural aspects of experience. The appearance of various typical themes, including: question of the reality of experience itself; the search for a ground of meaning in a world without God; the critique of the traditional values of the culture; the loss of meaning and hope in the modern world and an exploration of how this loss may be faced.