The English Novel 1945-Critical Analysis

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2. The English Novel 1945-1990 The history of the post-war novel in English, and also that of drama and poetry, cannot be understood without reference to the coexistence in the first half of the twentieth century of Modernism and the more traditional approaches to literature inherited from the Victorian period. The Modernist writers reacted against realism in fiction and the remains of Romantic sentimentalism in poetry by introducing technical innovations that could be used to look at reality from the point of view of the irrational, the subconscious, the anti-sentimental, or the highly individualistic. In drama, the revolution followed other lines, with G. B. Shaw 's introduction to the English stage of the naturalistic drama developed by…show more content…
After 1945, when novelists faced the task of explaining the new historical reality and the position of the individual in the new post-war order, most realized that this entailed making a choice between traditional literary models that seemed more suitable for transmitting an accurate portrait of the individual in a changing society, and experimental, Modernist models that seemed more suitable for explaining the disjunction between the individual consciousness and the problematic flow of contemporary history.

Post-modernism was born out of this dilemma. Post-modernism can thus be said to be a new cultural atmosphere in which the writer is inevitably aware of this open choice between tradition and experimentalism, rather than a continuation of Modernism or a reaction against it. Post-war novelists cannot escape the shadow of either Modernism or Victorianism and must accommodate both in their work. Some have produced a new synthesis –which is what is really characteristic of post-modernism– while others have openly acknowledged their allegiance to either literary tradition or experimentation.

As far as the post-war novel is concerned, the post-modernist synthesis was relatively slow to come, if it came at all, for there seemed to be a need to first define the new contours of social reality after the war before resuming the project of
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Hartley 's The Go-Between (1953) analyse the present by looking backwards, searching for the flaws that cause the desolation of the individual speaking in the present. This return to a personal past shows, above all, why innocence has been the main casualty of war, and suggests that despite its apparent placidity, the best that the pre-war world could offer in social terms was inherently corrupt. The idea that civilisation contains the seeds of corruption is perhaps best expressed in William Golding 's Lord of the Flies (1954). In this novel Golding does not examine a particular moment of the recent past, but childhood, as the site where adult civilised values are implanted, only to find there sheer

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