This research investigated and analysed works of two outstanding modernist writers in Africa and Europe. The work was carried out with specific objectives which are; to highlight the basic features of modernism,to discuss the reasons for writers in this vogue deviating from earlier trends and placing emphases on newness. It outlined and analysed these basic features in the texts, Anthills of the Savannah and The Trial. In the course of these analyses, the researcher highlighted seven features of modernism. This formed the Data and Textual analyses in this work. From these analyses, the study succeeded in situating these novels within the fold of modernism. It looks at the major thematic preoccupations of the novels and how they reflected the existence of humans in modern society, which is the concern of the modernist writers. Once more, the research has proven that modernism and any other literary trend is not an exclusive preserve of the West. It is possible to adopt the style in any other part of the World as Achebe and Kafka have done.
1.0 Background to the Study
Literature is often seen as a representation of man’s experiences in the society. These experiences are not represented abstractly but rather in line with the factual and visible happenings in our society. Over the years, every literature produced is meant to portray or address a particular issue in our society. The nature of life and man himself is dynamic and is reflected as such in literature.
Both the traditional and modern man has found literature entertaining and has consequently preserved it. It is because man in his early society recognizes the entertainment values of literature that he developed it. The modern man has also continued the tradition of entertaining himself through literature in form of songs, drama, and storytelling that accompanied traditional rituals. The National Teacher Institutes NCE/DLS course book on English language cycle 1 gives three ways by which literature keeps the society entertained. These are psychological escape; entertainment through indulgence of our sense of humour and entertainment through our sense of beauty (225-226). Literature thus is an inspiration of societal happenings. These happenings are segmented into epochs, and modernism happens to be a literary movement that is currently in vogue. What used to be the trend at a particular time will not necessarily be in another. For instance, during classical era from the fifth A.D. onwards it was old English literature or Anglo-Saxon literature. Literature at that time consisted of spoken verse and songs or poems such as epic poems composed orally. The purpose of these forms of literature was to pass along tribal history and values to a population who could not read or write.
The Renaissance was a period when there was a rebirth of Greek and Roman literature as well as other forms of classical knowledge. The discovery of the works of classical scholars like Aristotle and Plato exerted unprecedented influence on the Renaissance man’s thought; that is secularisation of classical learning.
The Romanticism era was a time of war, notably the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars. These wars along with the political and social turmoil that came with them served as the background for the literature of this period. Their concerns were the free expression of feeling of the artist and their thematic preoccupations were the lives of the ordinary people (as opposed to classical period) and the poet‘s feelings about nature etc.
Towards the end of the nineteenth century, globalization and industrialization coupled with the first and second World Wars brought a new literary movement into existence. This was a break away or departure from the earliest trends such as classicism, medievalism, neoclassicism, romanticism and realism. This new movement was called modernism. The era placed emphasis on newness. Modernist movement originated in Europe and North America. The proponents of this movement were mostly influenced by Sigmund Freud, Karl Marx, Joseph Conrad, and D. H. Lawrence among others who tended to question how rational the human mind operated. They also believed that life does not always follow the right road; instead it was rough and quite unpredictable. Therefore, their ideas were completely new and appealing to the writers of the time.
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