modern literature

Robyn Starkey rohina at
Fri Jul 11 15:28:45 EDT 2003

> >How do you define modern literature? That seems a pretty big category to me
> >- anything written after about 1890 and before 1970?
>"Modern" is more than a century old?  Gleep.

Well, the definitional modern text, Heart of Darkness, is.

>This is a particular, specialised use of the word, a critical term rather
>than a definition likely to be recognisable to laymen and women, I think.

But this is the point. It has a specific meaning which is useful, used in a 
vague way, to mean "recent", it has very little value, because it has no 
clear contextual meaning. That was my point.

>In poetry, Gerard Manley Hopkins got taken as part of the "Modern" school,
>on account of not being published until after his death and of fitting the
>T.S. Eliot remark in 1921 that "it appears likely that poetry in our
>civilisation, as it exists at present, must be /difficult/" -- so one might
>claim as "modern" poems written in the 1870s and 1880s.
>Which is absurd, in 2003.

Why? These texts were modern. We have a perfectly servicable word for late 
20th century works, which is "postmodern". If you reject that word, then 
there are a number of alternatives.

>So I think that once again it may be that the non-definition of terms
>causes confusion.  When I say "modern" I do not mean "of a school of
>literature so defined at a time when it was contemporary, almost a hundred
>years ago", I mean "of or fairly immediately before the present day".

So, if this is what *you* mean, then you might say, "recent" or 
"contemporary" which would avoid confusion.

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