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-The Age of Anxiety-

In the last years of the 19th century the system of Victorian values had already come to an end.
There was less conviction in the rationalist self-confidence, as the First World War left the country in a disillusioned and cynical mood.

An increasing feeling of rootlessness (=sradicamento) and frustration, due to slow dissolution of Empire into the Commonwealth, led to an important transformation of the notions of Imperial hegemony and with superiority.

Nothing seemed to be right or certain; even science and religion seemed to offer little comfort or security.
Scientists and philosophers destroyed the old, predictable universe which was sustained by the Victorians in their optimistic outlook, and new views of man and the universe emerged.

The first new ideas was introduced by Sigmund Freud in his essay ‘The Interpretation of Dreams’.
Freud’s view emphasised the power of the unconscious to affect behaviour (=comportamento).

So, Freud provided a new method of investigation of the human mind through the analysis of dreams and the concept of “free association”, which deeply influenced the writers of the modern age.

The growing crisis of confidence was also due to the introduction of ‘relativity’ in science by Albert Einstein, that with his theory of relativity discarded the concepts of time and space, which he conceived of as subjective dimensions.
As a consequence, the world view lost its solidity and the scientific revolution was complemented by the verbal experimentation and the exploration of memory in literature, the rebellion against perspective and against phenomenal representation in art, or the revolution of tone, rhythm and harmony in music.

The idea of ‘time’ was questioned also by the American philosopher William James and the French philosopher Henri Bergson.

Bergson made a distinction between historical time, which is external, linear, and measured in terms of the spatial distance travelled by a pendulum or the hands of a clock, and psychological time, which is internal, subjective, and measured by the relative emotional intensity of a moment.
Bergson also gave guidance to writers looking/seeking to capture the effects of emotional relativity, since he suggested that a thought or feeling could be measured in terms of the number of perceptions, memories, and associations attached to it.

In this period there were made also some studies of anthropology, that helped to undermine/destabilize the absolute truth of religious and ethical systems, in favour of more relativist standpoints.

Keywords of this age were: isolation, alienation and anxiety.

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