Classifying Modernism isn't always an easy task and understanding it can be even trickier! REMEMBER that Modernism (in literature) spans the time between WWI and WWII, however some would argue that it actually spans through the 1960s. Where it ends, Post-Modernism picks up
Modernism was a reaction to many cultural changes and shocks that began around the time of WWI. "The term encompasses the activities and output of those who felt the "traditional" forms of art, architecture, literature, religious faith, social organization and daily life were becoming outdated in the new economic, social, and political conditions of an emerging fully industrialized world" (Princeton.edu). Modernist were concerned with "the self", while trying to be innovative and experimental. Many writers experimented with form and techniques such as: stream of conscientious, open form, juxtaposition, and free verse.
One of the major "shocks was WWI. "It was looked upon with such ghastly horror that many people simply could not imagine what the world seemed to be plunging towards". This left many people who felt alienated and disolusioned with society and the possibility of the American Dream. It also made many individuals questioned authority and left them asking themselves the questions, who am I and how do I fit in to this changing chaotic world?
Who were they?? Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and F. Scott Fitzgerald to name just a few of the most important and experimental authors.
Ernest Hemingway is one of America's greatest authors. He was influenced by his journalistic career. He believed that if one stripped down unnecessary words from his or her writing it became more interesting. He is known for not only his minimalistic / journalistic style, but for what is now known as the "iceburg" theory Hemingway thought that the theme of a story should not be understood from the surface story, but instead it should, as he is quoted as saying, "a writer of prose knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them" (Hemingway).
-He had an overbearing mother
-He was a poor athlete
-He loved the outdoors and hunting like his father
-Discovered writing in high school
-He was considered a "macho" character
-He went to Italy to serve in the war
-He suffered from depression
-He was injured in war and wrote many war stories based on his experiences
-He was married three times
-He committed suicide by shooting himself with his own shotgun
-He wrote many short stories and novels. A Moveable Feast, The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls and The Old Man and the Sea are some of his most famous.
Listen to the attached documentary about his life to give a complete look at this revolutionary American author.