The opening of Japan by Commodore Perry in the s and the access permitted Christian missionaries in China somewhat later galvanized American interest in those countries. Through travel, literature, philosophy, education, religion, and the fine and decorative arts, Americans involved themselves in the East. Bayard Taylor, the most widely-read journalist of his time, accompanied Perry and lectured about the trip in nearly American cities and towns.
Postmodernism began in the sixties, when there developed on both sides of the Atlantic a feeling that poetry had become too ossified, backward-looking and restrained. Certainly it was clever, with striking imagery, symbolism and structural economy, but it was also far too predictable.
Where were the technical innovations of the early modernists? Where were the alternatives to capitalism and the modern state that feature in Pound's or Lawrence's thought?
And if contrary movements existed, they seemed disorganized. The UK might have its neo-Romantics, and a reaction to them. But there was no common purpose in these figures, and no common philosophy to give them intellectual standing.
Into this vacuum came radical theory, and the generally Leftist theories of literature. Features of Postmodernism Most conspicuously in the visual arts, but shown to varying degrees in novels and poetry, Postmodernism has these four features: Its creations were no longer the preserve of an exclusive avant-garde but the subject of academic study.
Post-Impressionist paintings appeared on Christmas cards, and contemporary music featured in popular concerts. Even the originators themselves turned away from their high ideals. Pound espoused right-wing views. Eliot wrote in tight forms, became an establishment figure and received the Nobel Prize.
Carlos William 's poems served to show freshmen how little there was to fear in poetry. By the s, university courses were stressing the continuity between traditional poetry and the contemporary scene.
None of this was congenial to writers suffering the usual privations of the struggling artist. The education industry seemed a sham. For all its stress on authenticity and originality, everyone knew that the literary canon could be probed but not ultimately questioned. Of course the contemporary writer could always go one better, adopt and improve on the skills of the literary great, but this required enormous time, talent and dedication, with very doubtful chances of success.
The public bought as critics directed; the critics wrote as they remembered their university courses indicating; and the courses repeated what had been written before. Very few with any influence on the livelihood of writers actually wrote poetry themselves and so could be expected to have the practitioner's eye for craft and accomplishment.
The safer approach was to reject the past, devise new styles however vacuous or wrong-headed, and then promote them as usual in a market-orientated consumer society. Most conspicuously was this done in the visual arts, but book prizes and regional festivals played their part in the literary world.
And with its stress on fashion, the need to keep up to date, the advertising industry was the model to adopt. What counted was the interest swirling around the exhibition or publication, and this naturally drew on and supported contemporary events, fashions and concerns.But the greatest thing Laughlin did was energize the American literary scene through New Directions books and, perhaps more importantly, framed modernist literature as a worldwide phenomenon in which American artists were just as important as experimental French or British writers.
The other American modernists, H.D., Wallace Stevens, Williams Carlos Williams, Amy Lowell, E. E. Cummings, Marianne Moore, Thornton Wilder among them, made serious and largely unobserved use of Japanese and Chinese art and literature, both in response to Pound's influence and because of their own meetings with the Far East.
Literary modernism, or modernist literature, has its origins in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly in Europe and North America.
Modernism is characterized by a self-conscious break with traditional styles of poetry and verse. Some major publishers sought out the works of modernist writers to publish alongside more conventional bestsellers.
Many more modernist writers found publication in the so-called “little magazines,” which were magazines with very small circulations.
The number of little magazines in the period was in the hundreds. There have been many books on early modernist poetry, not so many on its various sequels, and still fewer on the currents and cross-currents of poetry since World War II.
Modernism is a philosophical movement that, along with cultural trends and changes, arose from wide-scale and far-reaching transformations in Western society during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Among the factors that shaped modernism were the development of modern industrial societies and the rapid growth of cities, followed then by reactions of horror to World War I.