Modernist Poetry And The Contemporary Scene English Literature Essay Free Essay

This paper attempts to analyze and research the survey of Modernist Poetry and The Contemporary Scene in the context of Indian Writing in English. Modernism is where we are now, loosely talking, if we include Postmodernism and experimental poesy. Modernist poesy is the poesy written in schools and poesy workshops, published by 1000s of little imperativenesss, and reviewed by serious newspapers and literary diaries – a highbrow, clique poesy that is n’t popular and does n’t profess to be. To its fans, Modernist manners are the lone manner of covering with modern-day affairs, and they do non see them as a specialised development of traditional poesy, little elements being pushed in unusual waies, and sometimes drawn-out beyond the bounds of ready comprehension.

The paper intends to discourse the cardinal elements of Modernist verse forms are experimentation, anti-realism, individuality and a emphasis on the cerebral instead than affectional facets. Previous authorship was thought to be stereotyped, necessitating ceaseless experimentation and rejection of old signifiers. Poetry should stand for itself, or the author ‘s interior nature, instead than keep up a mirror to nature. Indeed the poet ‘s vision was all important, nevertheless much it cut him off from society or the scientific concerns of the twenty-four hours. Poets belonged to an nobility of the avant garde, and cool observation, withdrawal and turning away of simple preparations were indispensable.

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Modernist verse forms, experimentation, anti-realism, individuality, Elitist Intellectualism


Poststructuralist theories come in many incarnations, but shared a preoccupation with linguistic communication. Reality is non mediated by what we read or write, but is wholly constituted by those actions. We do n’t therefore expression at the universe through a verse form, and inquire how whether the representation is true or equal or appropriate, but concentrate on the devices and schemes within the text itself. Modernist theory urged us to overlook the irrelevances of writer ‘s purpose, historical conventions and societal context to measure the aesthetic integrity of the verse form. Poststructuralist unfavorable judgment price reductions any such integrity, and urges us to accept a looser position of art, one that accords more with mundane worlds and shows how linguistic communication suppresses alternate positions, peculiarly those of the socially or politically disadvantaged.

Experimental poesy takes the procedure farther, taking its inspiration from advertisement, and deploying words as in writing elements.

Modernism has no precise boundaries. At its strictest, in Anglo-American literature, the period runs from 1890 to 1920 and includes Joyce, Pound, Eliot and Wyndham Lewis among many others.

But few of its authors shared common purposes, and the term was applied retrospectively.

Very mostly, the subjects of Modernism begin good back in the 19th century, and many do non make full look until the latter half of the 20th century, so that Modernism is possibly better regarded as portion of a wide rete of concerns which are variably represented in a hundred and twenty old ages of European authorship.

Modernism is a utile term because composing in the period, particularly that venerated by academe and by literary critics, is intellectually ambitious, which makes it suited for undergraduate survey.

Many serious authors come from university, furthermore, and set canvas by Modernism ‘s charts, so that the premises need to be understood to appreciate modern-day work of any type.

And rather different from these is the turning intuition that modern-day authorship has lost its manner, which suggests that we may see where options lie if we understand Modernism better.

Indian English Literature

In the last century, several Indian authors have distinguished themselves non merely in traditional Indian linguistic communications but besides in English. India ‘s Nobel laureate in literature was the Bengali author Rabindranath Tagore. Other major authors who are either Indian or of Indian beginning and derive much inspiration from Indian subjects are R K Narayan, Vikram Seth, Salman Rushdie, Arundhati Roy, Raja Rao, Amitav Ghosh, Vikram Chandra, Mukul Kesavan, Shashi Tharoor, Nayantara Sehgal, Rohinton Mistry, Indian Women authors and poets like Kamala Das ushered in the women’s rightist epoch in India by her bold and confessional Hagiographas.

In recent old ages, English-language authors of Indian beginning are being published in the West at an amazing rate. In June 1997, a particular fiction issue of The New Yorker magazine devoted much infinite to try by Amitav Ghosh and Abraham Verghese, a short narrative by Vikram Chandra, and verse forms by Jayanta Mahapatra and A K Ramanujan. John Updike profiled RK Narayan and Arundhati Roy ‘s God Of Small Things.

The Jnanpith Award and Sahitya Akademi Award are among the most esteemed Indian literary awards.

“ Indian English Literature ( IEL ) refers to the organic structure of work by authors in India who write in the English linguistic communication and whose female parent lingua is normally one of the legion linguistic communications of India. It is besides associated with the plants of members of the Indian diaspora, particularly people like Salman Rushdie and Kumar Kaushik who were born in India. As a class, this production comes under the broader kingdom of postindependence literature- the production from antecedently colonised states such as India. ”

Early History

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RK Narayan is a author who contributed over many decennaries and who continued to compose till his decease late. He was discovered by Graham Greene in the sense that the latter helped him happen a publishing house in England. Graham Greene and Narayan remained close friends till the terminal. Similar to Thomas Hardy ‘s Wessex, Narayan created the fabricated town of Malgudi where he set his novels. Some criticise Narayan for the parochial, detached and closed universe that he created in the face of the altering conditions in India at the times in which the narratives are set. Others, such as Graham Greene, nevertheless, feel that through Malgudi they could vividly understand the Indian experience. Narayan ‘s evocation of little town life and its experiences through the eyes of the endearing child supporter Swaminathan in Swami and Friends is a good sample of his authorship manner.

Diasporic authorship

Among the ulterior authors, the most noteworthy is Salman Rushdie, born in India, now populating in the United States. Rushdie with his celebrated work Midnight ‘s Children ( Booker Prize 1981, Booker of Bookers 1992 ) ushered in a new tendency of authorship. He used a intercrossed linguistic communication – English liberally peppered with Indian footings – to convey a subject that could be seen as stand foring the huge canvas of India. He is normally categorised under the charming pragmatism manner of composing most famously associated with Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

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Shashi Tharoor, in his The Great Indian Novel ( 1989 ) , follows a story-telling ( though in a satirical ) manner as in the Mahabharata pulling his thoughts by traveling back and Forth in clip. His work as UN functionary life outside India has given him a vantage point that helps build an nonsubjective Indianness. Other writers include Bapsi Sidhwa, Raj Kamal Jha, and Rohinton Mistry,

Diasporic adult females authors like Anita Desai, Shashi Deshpande, Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, and Bharati Mukherjee, and even immature authors like Kiran Desai, express the feelings of dual segregation, disaffection and nostalgia.

One of the cardinal issues raised in this context is the superiority/ lower status of IWE as opposed to the literary production in the assorted linguistic communications of India. Key polar constructs bandied in this context are superficial/authentic, imitative/creative, shallow/deep, critical/uncritical, elitist/parochial and so on.

The positions of Rushdie and Amit Chaudhuri are expressed through their books The Vintage Book of Indian Writing and The Picador Book of Modern Indian Literature severally essentialise this conflict.

Rushdie ‘s statement in his book – “ the ironical proposition that India ‘s best authorship since independency may hold been done in the linguistic communication of the bygone imperialists is merely excessively much for some folks to bear ” – created a batch of bitterness among many authors, including authors in English. In his book, Amit Chaudhuri inquiries – “ Can it be true that Indian authorship, that infinitely rich, complex and debatable entity, is to be represented by a smattering of authors who write in English, who live in England or America and whom one might hold met at a party? ”

Chaudhuri feels that after Rushdie, IWE started using charming pragmatism, non-linear narrative and intercrossed linguistic communication to prolong subjects seen as microcosms of India and purportedly reflecting Indian conditions. He contrasts this with the plants of earlier authors such as Narayan where the usage of English is pure, but the deciphering of intending needs cultural acquaintance. He besides feels that Indianness is a subject constructed merely in IWE and does non joint itself in the common literatures. ( It is likely that the degree of Indianness constructed is straight relative to the distance between the author and India. ) He farther adds “ the post-colonial novel becomes a figure of speech for an ideal hybridity by which the West celebrates non so much Indianness, whatever that boundlessly complex thing is, but its ain historical pursuit, its reinterpretation of itself ” .

Some of these statements form an built-in portion of what is called postcolonial theory. The very classification of IWE – as IWE or under post-colonial literature – is seen by some as modification. Amitav Ghosh made his positions on this really clear by declining to accept the Eurasiatic Commonwealth Writers Prize for his book The Glass Palace in 2001 and retreating it from the subsequent phase. His other celebrated work of fiction include Shadow Lines, Calcutta Chromosome, and the really recent Sea Of Poppies

The celebrated author V S Naipaul, a 3rd coevals Indian from Trinidad and Tobago and a Nobel Prize laureate, is a individual who belongs to the universe and normally non classified under IWE. Naipaul evokes thoughts of fatherland, rootlessness and his ain personal feelings towards India in many of his books.

Bharati Mukherjee, writer of Jasmine, 1989, has spent much of her calling researching issues affecting in-migration and individuality with a peculiar focal point upon the United States and Canada. Vikram Seth, writer of A Suitable Boy ( 1994 ) is a author who uses more realistic subjects. Bing a self-confessed fan of Jane Austen, his attending is on the narrative, its inside informations and its turns and bends. Jhumpa Lahiri, a Pulitzer Prize victor from the US, is a author uncomfortable under the label of IWE.

Recent authors in India such as Arundhati Roy, show a way towards contextuality and rootedness in their plants. Arundhati Roy, the 1997 Booker value victor for her The God of Small Things, calls herself a “ place grown ” author. Her award winning book is set in the vastly physical landscape of Kerala. Davidar sets his The House of Blue Mangoes in Southern Tamil Nadu. In both the books, geographics and political relations are built-in to the narrative. Kiran Desai, girl of Anita Desai, victor of the Man Booker Prize 2006 for her 2nd book, The Inheritance of Loss and Indra Sinha, Animal ‘s Peoples nominated for the Man Booker Prize 2007 are among the gifted and ambitious younger authors of this coevals.


A much over-looked class of Indian authorship in English is poetry. As stated above, Rabindranath Tagore wrote in Bengali and English and was responsible for the interlingual renditions of his ain work into English. Other early noteworthy poets in English include Henry Derozio, Michael Madhsudhan Dutt, Joseph Furtado, Armando Menezes, Toru Dutt, Romesh Chandra Dutt, Sarojini Naidu and her brother Harendranath Chattopadhyaya.

In modern times, Indian poesy in English was typified by two really different poets. Dom Moraes, victor of the Hawthornden Prize at the precocious age of 19 for his first book of verse forms A Beginning went on to busy a pre-eminent place among Indian poets composing in English. Nissim Ezekiel, who came from India ‘s bantam Jewish community, created a voice and topographic point for Indian poets composing in English and championed their work.C: UsersMyPicturessarojini.gif

Their coevalss in English poesy in India were Arvind Mehrotra, Jayanta Mahapatra, Gieve Patel, A K Ramanujan, Parthasarathy, Keki Daruwala, Adil Jussawala, Arun Kolatkar, Dilip Chitre, Eunice De Souza, Kersi Katrak and Kamala Das among several others.

A coevals of expatriates besides sprang from the Indian diaspora. Among these are names like Agha Shahid Ali, Sujata Bhatt and Vikram Seth, Amitav Ghosh, and popular 1s among adult females authors, Jhumpa Lahiri.

The current coevals of Indian poets composing in English includes Ranjit Hoskote, Jeet Thayil, Tabish Khair, Vijay Nambisan, H Masud Taj, Rukmini Bhaya Nair, C.P. Surendran, Moniza Alvi, Imtiaz Dharker, Gayatri Mazumdar, Vivek Narayanan, Gavin Barrett, Anjum Hasan, Jerry Pinto, Smita Agarwal, Arundhathi Subramaniam, Anand Thakore, Meena Alexander, Gayatri Majumdar, Mary Anne Mohanraj and Reetika Vazirani.

Features of Modernism

To changing extents, authorship of the Modernist period exhibits these characteristics:


Belief that old authorship was stereotyped and unequal ceaseless proficient invention, sometimes for its ain interest originality: divergence from the norm, or from usual reader outlooks ruthless rejection of the yesteryear, even iconoclasm.


Sacralisation of art, which must stand for itself, non something beyond penchant for allusion ( frequently private ) instead than description universe seen through the creative person ‘s interior feelings and mental provinces subjects and vantage points chosen to oppugn the conventional position usage of myth and unconscious forces instead than motives of conventional secret plan.


Promotion of the creative person ‘s point of view, at the disbursal of the communal cultivation of an single consciousness, which entirely is the concluding supreme authority alienation from faith, nature, scientific discipline, economic system or societal mechanisms care of a wary rational independency creative persons and non society should judge the humanistic disciplines: utmost self-consciousness hunt for the primary image, devoid of remark: watercourse of consciousness clannishness, an nobility of the vanguard.


composing more intellectual than emotional work is probationary, analytical and fragmental, more posing inquiries more than replying them cool observation: point of views and characters detached and depersonalized open-ended work, non finished, nor taking at formal flawlessness involuted: the topic is frequently act of composing itself and non the apparent referent.

The Shock of the New

One characteristic above all is striking in Modernism: experimentation, alteration for the interest of alteration, a demand to be invariably at the cutting border in technique and idea. “ Make it new ” said Pound. Possibly this was apprehensible in a society itself altering quickly. The First World War shattered many beliefs – in peaceable advancement, international cooperation, the high quality of the European civilisations. It besides outlawed a exalted and epic vocabulary: “ dandy, manfully, vanquish, destiny ” , etc. could afterwards merely be used in an dry or jesting manner. But more cardinal was the 19th century growing in metropolis life, in industrial employment, in cosmopolitan literacy, in the power of mass backing and the ballot. Science and society could germinate and introduce, so why non art?

Is ceaseless alteration to be welcomed, and should art reflect such alteration? Possibly a stronger statement could be made for stableness, some interior ground tackle of belief and shared premises as society moved beyond its familiar landmarks. Well known are the disorientating and enfeebling effects of the emphasis involved, in animate beings and worlds. Man is above all a societal animate being, and it may be that the media ballyhoo and advertisement of modern-day life is intentionally shallow to carry through that demand for shared experience.

In its desire to retain rational dominance, art overlooked one important differentiation. Science trials, improves and physiques, but does non wantonly rupture down. Extensive alteration of established constructs is hard, and get downing afresh in the mode of the modernist creative person would be unthinkable. There is merely excessively much to cognize and get the hang, and the scientific community insists on certain apprenticeships and processs. Originality is non prized in the manner normally supposed.

And does art stand for its clip? Not in any simple manner. Very different graphicss may arise in the same society at the same clip – those of Hals and Rembrandt, for illustration. Art history of course wishes to pull everything into its survey but neither the visual aspect of great creative persons nor the way of artistic tendencies seems predictable, any more than history is, and for similar grounds. Everything depends on the starting premises: what counts as of import, and how that is assessed. Much the same can be said of economic theory. The necessary are non the sufficient causes: certain factors may necessitate to be present but they are non themselves sufficient to consequence alteration.

Always Unconventional

No less than other patterns, art begets art, with sometimes merely a cernuous familiarity with the larger universe it purports to stand for or function. Much authorship and picture from the early nineteenth-century yearss of Romanticism was frankly dreamer, preferring the purdah of nature or the interior universe of contemplation to the mundane concern of socialization and gaining a life. No uncertainty the shallow optimism, baloney and economic development of the industrial revolution was really unattractive, but so so was rural poorness. Demuring the Georgians and some of the Auden coevals, few poets of the last hundred old ages had first manus experience of the societal issues of the twenty-four hours, and there are big countries of modern-day life even now that are non forthrightly treated: the universe of work, public service, cultural differences, sexual experience. Either the literary paradigms do non be, or authors would hold to give up an individualist point of view and “ delve out the facts ” – i.e. compose something closer to news media.

The Ever Individual

But the firing issues of the twenty-four hours base on balls and are shortly forgotten. Art prides itself on its more cardinal qualities. If they did non hold the clip, preparation or rational powers to understand the modern-day universe, creative persons would look for some shorter way to their capable affair. Hence the championing of the creative person ‘s point of view, on a vision unmediated by societal apprehension. Hence the entreaty to ( if non the apprehension of ) psychopathology, mythology and linguistics to asseverate that artistic creative activities do non stand for world but in some sense embody world. Poems should non show anything but themselves. They should merely be.

Many techniques were used to distance linguistic communication from its common utilizations, and asseverate its primary, self-validating position. And since proficiency in scientific discipline and concern requires a long, practical preparation, literature besides insisted on survey classs: a good trade demands to be swallowed before the pupil ‘s eyes are opened to the possible excellences of modern-day authorship. Possibly these are unseeable to the general populace, or even to equal religious orders, but that is non a drawback. Art is non for the profane bulk, and its boundaries are carefully patrolled. Art may use populist stuff or techniques, but it can non be populist itself. Art is outspokenly useless.

All this comes at a cost. Writers in a free society may certainly delight themselves, procuring what public they can, but there is something funny, if non perverse, in doing work opaque with private allusion, vague mythology, and misunderstood garbages of doctrine, and in the same breath complaining that the work does non sell. Professional authorship is a really difficult concern, and even the reasonably successful novelist demands to turn out a auxiliary one or two thousand word per hebdomad as journalist or referee. The laminitiss of Modernism had little private incomes, found frequenters or begged. Dedicated authors today resort to parttime employment that is non excessively physically or mentally demanding, but the restricting point of views can be to their ain and society ‘s disadvantage.

Elitist Intellectualism

But Modernist authors and their observers do non see the narrowly single mentality a defect, rather the opposite. Nineteenth-century pragmatism was tainted with commercialism and the circulating libraries. Twentieth-century pragmatism all excessively blatantly takes the signifier of Television soaps and blockbuster novels. God forbid that the modern author should obey the first dogma of art, and portray something of the universe in clearer and more generous contours. That would intend really sing the difficult universe as it is for most of its dwellers, of life like everybody else.

The mind has its demands and pleasances, but the Modernists do non by and large live such a life, which requires university term of office or independent wealth. Their learning tends to be fragmental, with thoughts functioning subterranean intents, one of which is societal differentiation. There is a relentless strain of rational snobbism in Modernism – sometimes interrupting out in racism and disdain for the multitudes, sometimes withdrawing to arcane doctrine: idealism, existential philosophy, Post structural linguistics. Modernists are an nobility of the mind. The intellectual is preferred. Modern playwrights and novelists may appeal to mythology, but their apprehension is intellectualized: work is non crafted to arouse the cardinal forces unleashed in dramas by Euripides or Racine, but shaped by constructs that serve for secret plan and construction.


Poets belonging to the ‘high Modernist ‘ stage include:

Ezra Pound: e.g. Hugh Selwyn Mauberly

T.S. Eliot: e.g. Waste Land

Wallace Stevens: e.g. Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird

Reasoning Remarks

Modernism evolved by assorted paths. From Symbolism it took allusiveness in manner and an involvement in rarified mental provinces. From Realism it borrowed an urban scene, and a willingness to interrupt tabu. And from Romanticism came an artist-centred position, and retreat into irrationalism and hallucinations. Even its initiation male parents did non long remain Modernists. Pound espoused doctrinaire rightist positions. Eliot became a spiritual convert. Joyce ‘s late work verged on the phantasmagoric. Lewis quarrelled with everyone.

No 1 would volitionally lose the best that has been written in the last hundred old ages, but earlier uncertainties are coming home to perch. Modernism ‘s pitiless self-promotion creates rational castes that cut themselves off from the hopes and joys of mundane life. The poesy can be built on the flimsiest of foundations: Freudian psychopathology, verbal inventiveness, individuality run public violence, anti-realism, and over-emphasis on the irrational. The constructs themselves are deceitful, and the encouraging myths excessively little and self-admiring to demo adult male in his fullest nature. Gross saless of early Modernist plants were ridiculously little, and it was mostly after the Second World War, when the adherents of Modernism rose to places of influence in the academic and printing universes, that Modernism came the lingua franca of the educated categories. The older coevals of readers bit by bit died out. Literature for them was virtu, a life-time of intensifying acquaintance with writers who could n’t be analyzed in critical theory, or packed into three-year undergraduate classs.

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