English Literature - Context - The modern period

Contextual information and key writers of the modern period of English literature

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The Modern Period
Years: 1900(subject to debate)
Writing usually characterised by the rejection of a compassionate, allpowerful
creator and experimentation with form and the abstract.
Poetry: free verse
Epiphanies begin to appear in literature
Stream of consciousness:
o A genre of fiction that portrays an individual's point of view by
giving the written equivalent of the character's thought
processes, usually in a loose interior monologue.
o Key writers include James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and T.S. Eliot.
Historical Context:
British Empire loses 1 million soldiers to World War I
Winston Churchill leads Britain through WW II, and the Germans bomb England
British colonies demand independence
PostColonialism ­ Later 20th Century Onwards
o This was writing emanating from Europe's former colonies
which addresses questions of history, identity, ethnicity, gender
and language.
o Key writers were: Jamaica Kincaid, V.S. Naipaul, Derek
Walcott, Salman Rushdie and Wole Soyinka.
Key Literature and Authors:
James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, Joseph Conrad, D. H. Lawrence,
Graham Greene, Dylan Thomas, George Orwell, William Butler Yeats,
Bernard Shaw
The Lost Generation ­ 1920s
A group of American writers who lived in Paris and other parts of Europe during
this period. Writing is characterised by a general motif of disillusionment.
Key writers: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra Pound, Waldo Pierce
and John Steinbeck.


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