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Post-Modernism, Modernism and Realism

Qualities of Post-Modernism

  •     Reliability of the narrator is called particularly into question (not only whether or not what the narrator says is true, but whether or not the narrator even believes that it’s true.  I.E. Is the narrator purposefully lying to the audience).
  •     Several facets of modernism remain, but the focus tends to be on questioning authority and societal standards. “What makes something important?” “What is art?” “Why do people follow society’s standard?” all become central questions Multiple narrators or narrative points of view.
  •    Disjointed timelines (a plot that is not sequential).A “Blending” of poetry, prose, and sometimes art in an effort to confuse where one medium begins and another one ends.
  • Characters are generally from the lower or middle class.
  • Use of “stream-of-consciousness.”

Modernist Writers :

American author’s best known for including these characteristics in their include: William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Toni Morrison and T.S. Eliot.

Foreign author’s that are often credited with creating this style of writing include: James Joyce, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, and Ezra Pound.

Literary Timeline:

  • Post-Modernism is generally considered to have begun during the protest movements of the Vietnam War and reached it’s peak with the onset of the technological revolution of the 1990’s.
  • Modernism is generally considered to have reached its peak between 1900 and 1930, although it dominated literature far into the middle of the 20th century and aspects of this genre still exist today. realism, which preceded Modernism as a literary time period, existed predominantly in the United States between 1860 and 1900.  Many authors still write in this style today, although many scholars refer to Realist writers from later time periods as “naturalists.”
  • Romanticism is the period between 1800-1860 which is characterized by heroes and romantic journeys similar to those taught in 10th grade.  American Literature is renowned for its “Dark Romantics” in particular.

Qualities of Realism:

  • focused on everyday people of the working or middle class.
  • These works generally focus on qualities of daily life in normal society and as a result the characters, not the plot, are considered most important.
  • The voice of the narration is generally close to everyday speech so that it appeals to and represents the average people in society.
  • The one crucial aspect considered inherent to all “Realism” is the genuine and unembellished nature of the descriptions, the characters, and the plot.

Writers of Realism: 

Famous author’s from this time period and style include Henry James, Stephen Crane, Ambrose Bierce, Sherwood Anderson, Walt Whitman, Willa Cather, Thornton Wilder, and in some instances, Mark Twain. Author’s who carried this style over into the 20th Century and are often referred to as “Realist” or “Naturalist” include Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck.


I see the beauty everywhere

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