Modernism – Influences & Important Contributions

What could economic crisis, decolonization and world wars do to supreme nations? In general, one would say it would devastate the culture, heritage and progress of those nations to an almost irretrievable level. Such was the case for the British nations and Americans during the late 19th century and early part of 20th century; where everything felt to go against the nations. However, there was one thing amidst the chaos that helped the nations hold their pride, that is, modernism. It is a periodic movement in English literature that served the nations in utter distress and helped to break the shackles of traditionalism completely.

Influences that spurred Modernism

The poets, critics, prose writers, etc. embraced the declining conditions and experimented on literature to produce works that are imitative to the age and reflected the inner consciousness of the people.

The most important influence that can be singled out is the World War I [1914-1918], which led people to wonder about the existence of humanity and the value of life in the broader sense.

Animal Farm, Modernism

There was an increase of interest in social sciences with the popularity of Sigmund Freud and his psychoanalysis theories.

Urbanization that led to change of lifestyle, growing hatred towards machines, decolonization from many countries that once were under the control the British Empire, etc. were the social influences that led to modernism.

As a result the literature of the period was intentionally sporadic, first person in narrative, aimed towards criticizing mankind’s decline and experimental. Hence the themes were cynical, morbid or absurd.

Important contributions of the period


S. No

Name Important Works

Notable aspects

1 F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby
2 George Orwell Animal Farm
Nineteen Eighty-Four
3 E. M. Forster A Room with a View
Howards End
A Passage to India
4 Eugene O’Neill Anna Christie
Beyond Horizon
Strange Interlude
The Hairy Ape
5 Robert Frost Mountain Interval Poetry collection
New Hampshire Poetry collection
6 W. H. Auden Funeral Blues
September 1, 1939
The Shield of Achilles
7 Ernest Hemingway For Whom the Bell Tolls
The Old Man and the Sea
8 Ezra Pound Ripostes
Hugh Selwyn Mauberley
9 Samuel Beckett Waiting for Godot
10 Herman Hesse Siddhartha
The Glass Bead Game
11 James Joyce Ulysses
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
Dubliners Short Story Collection
12 Rainer Maria Rilke Duino Elegies
Sonnets to Orpheus
13 Franz Kafka The Metamorphosis
The Trial
14 D. H. Lawrence Sons and Lovers
The Rainbow
15 Wallace Stevens The Auroras of Autumn
The Man with the Blue Guitar
16 Joseph Conrad The Nigger of the Narcissus
Heart of Darkness
Lord Jim
17 T. S. Eliot The Waste Land
Murder in the Cathedral
18 William Faulkner The Sound and the Fury
Absalom, Absalom!
19 William Carlos Williams The Red Wheelbarrow
Spring and All
20 Virginia Woolf Mrs Dalloway
To The Lighthouse
The Waves
21 W. B. Yeats The Wanderings of Oisin and Other Poems
Words for Music Perhaps and Other Poems
The Countess Kathleen


The names mentioned here played a significant role in popularizing Modernism as a movement. However, there are so many others who have contributed to the movement and had significant influence on the society.

Modern Period Literature - Download in PDF