Video appunto: English's Essay
The First World War deeply affected the soul of many people and changed the way they see life. The start of the new century had marked the beginning of a new age, the modern one. A feeling of hope had built up in the minds of the people, which was soon suppressed due to the outbreak of the First World War. In this period, the famous philosopher Sigmund Freud had founded the International Psychoanalytical Association, and the birth of this new science, psychoanalysis, certainly contributed to the change of English literature after the war.
A new group of writers, called War Poets, was born, starting modern poetry, since their way of writing didn’t exactly reflect that of the 1800s. The main exponents were Rupert Brooke, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon and Isaac Rosenberg. These poets had conflicting views on the war; Brooke became particularly involved in the enthusiasm of the war, since he thought that it wouldn’t last long, and this feeling can be found in his poems in which he tends to glorify the war; his most important work is "The Soldier", a poetry where the patriotic component stands out and which shows how heroic the sacrifice for the homeland is. However Brooke didn’t experience the war in the first person, as the other three poets did, and this was probably the reason why he was the only one to have this positive vision regarding the recruitment. Owen was probably the poet who had the greatest impact than the others; his traumatic experiences that he lived in the trenches, inspired him in the drafting of "Dulce et decorum est", a poetry full of meaning and pain, certainly anti propagandistic, in which the author describes the hard life of a soldier in the trenches, who sees die beside him his companions, who knows that every second that passes could be the last. The language used is direct, brutal and every aspect of the sentimental style is lost. Then we have Sassoon and Rosenberg; they shared Owen’s pessimistic view of the war, stressing how completely different the reality of the war was from that described by the superiors. This period also saw writers such as Ezra Pound and Eliot Yeats. Modern poetry completely changed the structure, typical is "free verse", without punctuation and a precise pattern of rhymes; Eliot's “Waste Land” is an example. This poem belongs to Eliot's works before his conversion and is part of the phase in which the author had a pessimistic and nihilistic vision of life; the two main words that are repeated in the writer's mind are in fact "aridity" and "sterility" of the modern world in contrast with the fertility of the ancient world. In this work there are continuous parallelism between the contemporary and the classical world, there is a continuous transition from the past to the present called "fragmentation", which reflects the breakdown of the historical and social order of that period.
As far as Modern Novel is concerned, the figure of Freud was very important, who, as we have already said, started the study of psychoanalysis; typical feature of the works of this period is in fact the secondary nature of the plot and the centrality of the psychological aspect of the characters, especially of the protagonist. During our schooling we have faced several authors; Virginia Woolf was one of the most important, with her novel “To The Lighthouse”, she showed how this new literary current no longer cared about the importance of chronological time, in fact she took from Bergson and James the idea of order of thoughts, in such a way that there was a logical connection between them. Another typical feature of Modern Novel that we can find in his literary work is the theory of the unconscious, the vision of the world by the different characters depends on their unconscious and subconscious. Finally Woolf introduces the stream of consciousness, given by the interior monologue, which consists in the description the flow of thoughts and memories through images and words.
Another very important author was Joseph Conrad, considered one of the "psychological novelists" of the modern age, thanks to his interest in the development of characters thinking and human relationships. He has a dark style, characterized by a sort of irony that, despite his novels ending well, leave the reader stunned. Conrad then introduced new themes which will then characterize the "Modern Novel"; symbolism, man is faced with his destiny in solitude, exoticism, the hero is put in a condition of isolation because of his misfortunes, and morality, all human values that apparently seem obvious are put into discussion.
Important writer was also Aldous Huxley who, with the publication of his novel "Brave New World", created new literary genres: Utopian Novel, which presents a better future where universal happiness reigns, Dystopian Novel, which presents an apparently better future but that is actually hell since all happiness is only apparent, and Science Fiction, which presents a possible future where advanced scientific research has led to a technology capable of altering human experiences. Huxley's style is also very descriptive, detailed and without emotion, the use of repetitions is also important to highlight the contrast between what the characters would think if they were free and what instead they are forced to think because of the influence of the State.
George Orwell was another literary man who was deeply affected by the First World War, during which he was seriously injured. His two most important novels, "Animal Farm" and "1984" are in fact the result of his life experiences. "Animal Farm" is more an allegorical and anti-utopian tale that refers to Stalin's dictatorship, "1984" is instead a dystopian novel set after the Third World War.
As the last author we now see Ernst Hemingway who, with his famous novel "A Farewell to Arms", tells about the sad experience of a young american guy who, after having enrolled as a volunteer to participate in the Great War, finds himself in a hospital after being injured seriously. Here he meets a young nurse with whom he will begin a love affair, which however will not last long due to the death of the woman. "A Farewel to Arms" can be considered an autobiographical novel since Hemingway had taken part in an expedition during the great war as an ambulance driver and, following an injury, had been sent to an hospital in which he had met a woman who was special to him. The author’s literate style is reveald in this novel; Hemingway has lost faith in traditional values such as patriotism, but is unable to find new ones; also the death of the beloved represents the inability to give life to something in a destroyed, arid and sterile world after the First World War.