The first 20-30 years of the 20th century (after the first world war) were characterized by the crisis of certainties;
these were the effects the war brought to:
1)The soldiers’ post-war syndrome: they actually developed psychological problems.
2)The generational gap between older and younger generations: the younger generation started to quest the wiseness of the old one. They though their ancestors were guilty and unwise.
3)The outlook of British colonialism started to change: with the beginning of the 20th century they finally realized colonialism was more of a slavery condition than a relationship of mutual respect.
•The power of the unconscious to affect behaviour: man’s actions can be motivated by forces even the individual knows very little about
•The superego: the constraints of society, education and, moral laws can affect man’s behavior.
•The libido: the danger of denying its demands can lead to neurosis (quite different form puritanism)
•The effects on literature: the new method of investigation of the analysis of dreams and of the free association of ideas
Carl Gustav Jung (Freud's pupil)
The collective unconscious:a collection of universal myths and beliefs of humanity, operating on a symbolic level
The effects on literature: figures/objects of everyday life have a symbolic power people respond to unconsciously; only the poet and the psychologist can understand and explain them.
The theory of relativity: time and space are subjective dimensions.
The effect on art: rejection of perspective and realistic representations.
•Frazer and The Golden Bough: a new outlook on primitive societies and a more relativistic point of view in judging Western society
•Nietzsche and So Spoke Zarathustra: a new awareness of alternatives to Christianity
Historical time is external, linear, made up of separate points and measured by the clock; inner time is internal, continuous, subjective and measured by the intensity of emotion
The effect on literature: disruption of historical time in the attempt of recording inner time
Consciousness “does not appear to itself chopped up in bits… [but] flows like a river or a stream… let us call it the stream of thought, of consciousness
Our memory records experiences in a continuous flow where past, present and future coexist
•Rejection of the past.
•Breaking down of limitations of space and time.
•Interest in cultures different from our Western one.
•The importance of the unconscious.
Modernism in literature:
This tendency breaks with the past and tradition, taking inspiration from the past of the world literature reinterpreted and relived in a personal way, and the influence of Jung, Bergson, James (T. S. Eliot). It is heavily influenced by Freud, Bergson, James (especially James Joyce and Virginia Wolf). The novelists are not interested in the speech level, rational and communicable, but in the pre-speech level, not rationally or logically controlled. (E.G. an iceberg, whose submerged portion novelists are interested to explore.)