Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Realism vs Modernism

Realism and Modernism are two different kinds of writing. In Realism, the author tries to depict the story as it really is. They choose certain details to make things seem real and like every day life. We have looked at many Realist authors and poets for homework. Some of these authors and poets include Mark Twain, Kate Chopin, and Rebecca Harding Davis.

As an author, Mark Twain is a great example of the Realism writing style. Some of Mark Twain's most famous novels, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn depict the lives of young boys and their adventures. Twain does a great job of depicting life by the Mississippi River which he loved so dearly. He has many great details to make the stories seem so real and easy to relate to, which is what a Realist writer does.

"Realism is the attempt to depict life as it actually exists, not as the author wants it to be in the present or the future, or imagines it was in the past. A realist carefully chooses details that illustrate this vision, unlike the naturalist who tries to include all possible details. The difference between realism and naturalism is compared often to that between a painting as opposed to a photograph, assuming that the photographer also does not choose which details to include in the frame of the picture. The difference between romanticism and realism was a philosophical difference over the purpose and function of literature, adherents of the former believing that it should idealize life by empathizing desirable features, those of the latter that it should be a faithful representative of facts as they appear to the senses" (Werlock).

Modernism, on the other hand, is more about what is happening now. The start of the Modernism period was around World War I. People started writing more about what was happening during that time period, and how it affected the people and themselves. They started to describe things and uncover places as they really were instead of leaving off small details.

"Modernism as a movement was shaped by discoveries in science and advancements in technology and various fields of thought that began to develop in the nineteenth century—including Sir James Frazer's writings on cultural anthropology and Sigmund Freud's work in psychology—that transformed the way human beings regarded themselves, their world, and their place in the world. William R. Everdale finds its origins "in an often profound rethinking of the whole mind set of the nineteenth century." Modern thought "gave up the stubborn old belief that things could be seen 'steadily and whole' from some privileged viewpoint at a particular moment" and embraced a "nonlogical, nonobjective, and essentially causeless mental universe." The catalytic event that created the modern world for many American writers was the catastrophe of World War I, a conflict that revealed the bankruptcy of many nineteenth-century ideals.

In discussions of literature the term modernism is frequently used carelessly and imprecisely. The word modern is sometimes used as an adjective to broadly suggest when a writer was writing or a work was written. If one is told that a poem or a novel is modern but not given its date of composition or publication, then it is safe to assume only that it was written sometime after the Great War and sometime before right now" (Anderson).

Works Cited:

Anderson, George Parker. "modernism." In Anderson, George P., Judith S. Baughman, Matthew J. Bruccoli, and Carl Rollyson, eds. Encyclopedia of American Literature, Revised Edition: Into the Modern: 1896–1945, Volume 3. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2008. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= EAmL1234&SingleRecord=True (accessed April 18, 2011).

Werlock, Abby H. P. "realism." The Facts On File Companion to the American Short Story, Second Edition. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2009. Bloom's Literary Reference Online. Facts On File, Inc. http://www.fofweb.com/activelink2.asp?ItemID=WE54&SID=5&iPin= Gamshrtsty0575&SingleRecord=True (accessed April 18, 2011).

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