Modernism in literature involves introspection
After the decline in classical western thinking and the radical changes in society at the beginning of the 20th century, writers turned inward, favoring individual expression and creating space for contemplation. In this way, Modernists established the blueprints for modern literature.
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Following a period of rapid development in technology- in communications and industry- and the disruptive effect of mechanized warfare on society, the emergence of the writer’s expression as an individual was welcome. Before this, writing, like all art, was based on morality, objectivity, truth, spirituality, and beauty. It was made for commercial appeal, not to satisfy a creative need in the author. The dramatic form gave us soliloquies, but not until the advent of the modernists was the interior voice fully utilized in literary structure. This was also a response to the growing impersonality of the modern world. Not only was the concept of human life devalued by the war, but increased urbanization and the after-effects of the industrial-revolution led workers to feel like simply another cog in the machine. This is evident in Sophie Treadwell’s play 'Machinal' (1928), which stages the struggle of one woman for definition in an oppressively conformist society. As a journalist, Treadwell knew the line between objectivity and personality, which gives the play a distinct tone. Yet the case for personal identity arose in many forms. Novels such as EM Forster’s 'A Room with A View' (1908) and D.H Laurence’s 'Lady Chatterley’s Lover' (1928) display a rupturing of social norms through illicit, individually driven romances. Both female leads are spurred on by introspection. This shows Modernist characters appearing more self-aware of their social standing. For Luigi Pirandello in his play 'Six Characters in Search of an Author' (1921), this is taken to a literal extent in a moment of metafiction, in which fictional characters challenge the nature of their existence. Pirandello’s own presence within the production is often symbolically created with an empty chair in the auditorium. Indeed the turn towards introspection was a prophetic one for art and culture and truly put the ‘modern’ in modernism.