Deviating from the romanticism of earlier works, American literature that emerged after the mid-19th century adopted a distinct realism and an often critical view of American society. With penetrating analyses, writers such as Henry Adams and Upton Sinclair exposed fundamental flaws in government and industry, while Mark Twain and H. L. Mencken incisively satirized social ills such as prejudice and intolerance. Readers will encounter these and other great minds whose fluid pens challenged the status quo.
Modernism ushered in some of the most exciting innovations in art and literature, from Fauvism, Cubism, and Dada, to the novels of James Joyce and Franz Kafka, to such provocative works as Marcel Duchamp's "Fountain." But Modernism also left many people puzzled in its wake. How can a routine bathroom fixture be considered a work of art? Shouldn't a novel have a beginning, a middle, and an end--or at least a story? Whether we recognise it or not, virtually every aspect of our life today has been influenced in part by the aesthetic legacy of Modernism. In this Very Short Introduction, Christopher Butler provides a coherent account of Modernism across various aesthetic and cultural fields. Butler examines how and why Modernism began, explaining what it is and showing how virtually all aspects of 20th and 21st century life have been influenced by its aesthetic legacy. Butler considers several aspects of modernism, including some classic modernist works, movements and notions of the avant garde, and the idea of "progress" in art. Finally, Butler sheds light on modernist ideas of the self, subjectivity, irrationalism, people and machines, and the political dimensions of modernism as a whole.
'a pre-eminently sane, lucid, and concise statement about the central issues, the key examples, and the notorious derilections of postmodernism. I feel a fresh wind blowing away the miasma coiling around the topic. ' -Ihab Hassan, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee'the most intellectually incisive, coherent and comprehensive meditation upon the history and significance of postmodernism that I have yet encountered.' -Patricia Waugh, University of Durham'easily the best introduction to postmodernism currently available' -Hans Bertens, Utrecht University