Discourse on Modernism and the Question of Authority

Mohammad Tajuddin


Based on the studies of contemporary writers this paper presents a discourse on modernism especially in English literature, along with different socio-political and historical events related with modernism. Modernism like any other doctrine has had its beginning and phases of development until today as it appears now to us with different meanings and varied connotations. Modernism in the field of arts and literature refers to the time of late 19th century and first half of the 20th century, to the specific mode of writing of some writers and painting of some painters- as opposed to the previous convention of arts and literature- in the background of socio-political disorder of the First World War. In the greater dynamics of human history modernism is the significant phenomenon which at the same time presents human weakness such as frustration, deep despair, loneliness and spiritual crises of individual even in the midst of eye-catching material and technological development, as if human beings lost the centre of authority in a center less world. With the collapse of socio-political structures that began with the destruction of First World War, the Western society became victim of hopelessness and many other social ills damaging their hope and idea of progress. The idea of perfect future and progress of the world, which so far had been deemed to be possible based on human reason, was shattered due to the overwhelming effects of the war. Modern poets and authors not only portrayed different society’s ills, as created in post war Europe, in their writing, but also sought an authority based on which the society’s ills would be relieved or gone. Still, we have the experience of the same social ills as modernism had earlier; as we have the legacy of modernism even in the post modern era. In modern era “fragmentation” in literary writings was really the sign of individual’s or human being’s fragmented and disorderly or problematic existence for which the modern writers regret. But “fragmentation” is being more celebrated in the post modern era signifying more and more disintegration and dissolving entities in human relationships that really creates more uncertainty for the world. This paper attempts to understand how the modern writers presented and lamented the lack of authority by which the modern writers wanted to remove society’s ills. This paper also makes an attempt to explore as to how the modernism is made out throughout different phenomena of history that essentially can determine our future authority.

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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