The 20TH Century Novel
The novel was greatly influenced by social and scientific changes. There is the falling down of the faith in:science, technology and progress. The 1st World War left the country in a disillusioned and cynical mood. In this period: DARWIN had destroyed the old religious values; Marx supported the cause of proletariat and revolutionized both the old economic doctrines with some important points: The power of the capital, profit, private enterprise, private property and free competition; Freud had laid the basis of psychoanalysis as a science. He discovered the prevalence of the instincts over the will, the subconscious over the consciousness. He discovered that man's actions could be motivated by irrational forces. Some novelist tried to give interpretation to the social changes, Others novelists explored the human soul. The second type of writers were searching for new form of expression. Innovations were carried on in fiction. Now the novel stopped to be realistic and began to examine the inner part of the characters as well as their thought. The modern writers believed that man's most important struggles take place in characters' mind. The writers thought that the "true real" was the mental and emotional reactions of the characters to the external events.
Their novels are marked by the following features:
1.The lack of a plot: if there is a plot it is very weak and the writer pays his attention mainly to the mental processes of the characters.
2.The inobservance of the traditional grammar and syntax rules and of punctuation
3.Great emphasis is given to the interior monologue which constitutes the main expressive means used by the writers.
4.The apparent lack of a logical connection among the thoughts that run through the mind of the characters.
The time, in particular is a very marginal element. What is important is not the narration of the events in their chronological order, but all that flows through the mind of the characters. The traditional pattern which involved a clear separation of past, present and future stops existing. There is no distinction between past-present-future in the mind of the characters, but only an eternal present. The writers had to depart from the traditional narrative techniques and invented new ones. The new techniques were know as the stream of consciousness technique and the interior monologue. Bergson introduced a new concept of time. He stated that the present doesn’t really exist. It is a continuous flow from the already, the past, into the not yet, the future. Bergson’s concept of time is a flow, a duration rather than a series of points moving chronologically forward. Bergson stated the difference between the historical time, also called clock time which is external, linear, and objective, measured by the time units and the internal time, subjective and measured by the emotional intensity of the moment. James, instead, had stated that consciousness is the stream of thoughts. The term consciousness is not be confused with other mental activities like intelligence or memory which can be communicated; the stream of consciousness novels are those novels concerned with the area which is beyond communication. There are, in fact, two levels of consciousness:
-The speech level, which can be communicated either orally or in writing
-The pre-speech level, which has no communicative basis and is not rationally controlled or logically ordered. An analogy would be that of an iceberg, of which only the tip is visible, while the greatest part is submerged. The stream of consciousness fiction is concerned not so much with the part of the iceberg that is visible but with the part that lies below the surface. the most prominent method together with stream of consciousness technique is the interior monologue. the former refers to the mental activity itself, the latter is the instrument used to translate this activity into words disregarding logical progression.