Modernism was meant to solve the world's problems, but some authors—Virginia Woolf and Ezra Pound, for example—had a few crises of their own.
|Author||Pound - Ezra Pound|
Woolf - Adeline Virginia Woolf
Heck, the Titanic was slayed by an iceberg. With so many crazy things happening, people
felt like they were living amidst an ongoing crisis. Writers of the age responded to this
in differentÉ sometimes opposingÉ ways.
The American poet Ezra Pound, for example, didn't like the language in which poetry was
written at the time. Way too many adjectives.
He decided to start the Imagism movement, the goal of which was to create an extremely
...yep, you guessed it...
...image in the reader's mind. Pound sought clarity in poetry. He wanted
to strip away past conventions, romanticism and rhetoric, and abstraction.
Pound also may have come up with Imagism as a marketing gimmick to help his friend Hilda
...no relation to Eliza or Doctor...
...get her work published in Europe. It must have worked, because here we are one hundred
years later, still talking about how very important Imagism was to twentieth century
poetry. Pound may have wanted poetry to be hard and
polished, but the author Virginia Woolf believed the writing of the time should be more diffusedÉ
sort of like a spider web of different human perspectives.
For Woolf, one of the worst symptoms of the crisis of Modernism was the loneliness of
And we figure she knew all about loneliness, given that she killed herself in 1941 by going
for a very permanent swim in the local river. Of course, loneliness and that sense of crisis
that helped define Modernist writing weren't the only feelings Woolf thought people needed
The prudishness associated with the late nineteenth century was still alive and very well in Woolf's
So, not only was the world going to hell in a handbasket, but folks were supposed to be
very proper and moral...
...and never, ever, ever, ever talk about sex.
With that combo in play, no wonder Woolf thought that her writing should help readers feel
more connected to one another; that her purpose should be to reach out and touch someone...
...through literature, Virginia. Through literature. Pound and Woolf were two very different writers,
with two very different viewpoints of the Modernist movement.
Some prefer Pound's method of annihilating innocent adjectives...
...others dig Woolf's more lyrical prose.
Too bad Woolf went for a swim without end and Pound decided to add Italian fascism to
his repertoire of crazy.