Modernism developed all over Europe in the first decades of the 20th century.
There were new movements such as the Dadaism, the Futurism, the Expressionism, the Vorticism who expressed their will to break with the past and tradition and experimented new styles and forms.
In the novel, there are new narrative techniques such as the stream of consciousness and the internal monologue. In the poetry, they used new symbols and fragmented images.
Modernism main features are: emphasis on subjectivity, new narrative techniques, no limitations in space and time, and importance given to the sound of words.
Before the war, there were the avant-garde groups and those who were still influenced by the Victorian tradition such as the Georgian Poets, like R. Brooke, W. De La Mare and E. Thomas. They didn’t accept the revolution to modernism and above all they chose English elements such as the countryside.
War Poets wanted to show the evils of the war, used a violent and everyday language and wanted to awaken people’s conscience.
Modern poetry officially began with ‘Imagism’, whose advocate of this movement was T.E. Hulme. Imagism main features are the use of a clean and precise language, the choice of any subject matter, the rhythm freed from metrical regularity and their main aim was to achieve precision and discipline.
French Symbolism started in France thanks to Charles Baudelaire. They used an evocative and allusive language, free verse and stressed the importance of the sound of words.
The English novel was bourgeois in its origins, the novelist was a mediator between the characters and the readers and events were told in chronological order.
The shift from the Victorian to the modern novel was due to the transformation of the British society and to the need for new forms of expressions.
So, the novelist became a mediator between the values of the past and the confused present. The theory of unconscious and the new concept of time led to the birth of the Modern novel. The novelist stressed the importance of the subjective consciousness, experimented new forms and rejected the omniscient narrator.
The ‘stream of consciousness’ was introduced to reproduce the continuous flow of thoughts and sensations of the human mind. Time was perceived as subjective and inner, so there was no use to follow a chronological order in plots and the distinction between past and present was meaningless.
The ‘psychological novelists’ (J.Conrad, D.H. Lawrence and E.M. Forster) were interested in the development of the character’s mind and human relationships.