Modern Period Handout

English 202

Dr. Fike


Characteristics of the Modern Period:


Modernist period in English literature:  begins with WWI in 1914; 1965 marks the end of the modernist period.


Your handbook has good sections on “modernism” and the “modern period.”


A few important events prior to 1914:








Main events:









Re. poetry, the main innovation was the emphasis on the image; on both sides of the Atlantic, an emphasis on “hard, clear, precise images.”  Key figure:  American poet Ezra Pound.  The image’s purpose was to describe and evoke a particular mood.  See Eliot's term "objective correlative" in Harmon and Holman, page 347.


In fiction, there were three major changes in attitude:







Drama:  Major figures were Yeats (Abbey Theater) ITO the Celtic revival; Yeats employs the image, but he also relied on the Irish national heritage, esp. the mystical and supernatural material of Celtic legend.  Most famous playwright:  Samuel Beckett.  His most famous play:  Waiting for Godot.