The age of anxiety
It was a period of great transformation when the cultural atmosphere was fragmented. There was the breakdown of the Victorian values like Positivism.
The most important event of this century is the World War One, that caused more deaths than all previous wars put together. This event created disillusion and the 1920's was comfortable only for the privileged class. The problem that stay behind all these manifestation of uncertainty was the inability to arrive at a commonly accepted picture of Man.
Nothing seemed to be right or certain; even science and religion seemed to offer little comfort. The first set of new ideas was introduced by:
- Sigmund Freud with the power of the unconscious in “The Interpretation of Dreams”.
He discovered psychoanalysis, the unconscious , the idea that man’s action could be motivated by irrational forces.
Freud provided a new method of investigation of the human mind through the analysis of dreams and the concept of free association which influenced the writers of the modern age.
- Jung continued Freud’s studies and developed the idea that there is a collective unconscious, a sort of cultural memory that contains some figures or objects of the everyday world. Only hte psychologist or the poet could understand these symbols and explain that.
- The introduction of “Relativity” in science by Albert Einstein that discarded the concepts of time and space as subjective dimensions. This theory contributed to the development of a new form of novel, the modern novel.
- More and more people became aware that there were alternatives to Christianity and some intellectuals turned to esoteric beliefs.
English philosophy became analytic, focusing on the study of language to rectify the knowledge possessed -> literature as a guide to the perplexities of this age characterized by isolation, alienation and anxiety.