The first decades of the 20th century were a period of extraordinary originality and vitality in the history of art. This activity was mainly centred in Paris.
The term ‘Modernism’ is used to refer to a powerful international movement reaching through western cultures.
The term covers a variety of trends and currents.
Modernism expressed the desire to break with established forms and subjects.
In the novel, under the influence of Freud, it explored the characters’ psyches through the stream of consciousness technique the interior monologue.
In poetry, it mixed slang with elevated language, free verse, and often obscure symbols and fragmented images.
• Main Features:
o Intentional distortion of shapes;
o Breaking down of limitations in space and time and radical disruption of the linear flow of narrative verse;
o Awareness that our perception of reality is necessarily uncertain, temporary and subject to change: in writing the emphasis was on subjectivity, on how perception takes place, rather than on what is perceived;
o Importance of unconscious as well as conscious life.
Important author of Modernism was James Joyce, whose use of the technique of the stream of consciousness is certainly indebted to Freud and Bergson.