American modernism is an artistic and cultural movement in the United States starting at the turn of the 20th century with its core period between World War I and World War II. It was the time of economic chaos, cultural disorder and collapse, period of apocalyptic despair. Modernist literature in America dealt with such topics as racial relationships, gender roles and sexuality, to name just a few. It reached its peak in America in the 1920s up to the 1940s. Among the representative writers of the period we may find Ezra Pound, Scott Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner.
Sh. Anderson is the father of modernism in America. He's the master of short story. Main subject-matter – everyday life of small towns in America in Middle-West (symbol of provincionalism) He shows existence of small people in small towns. There was a legend that life in small towns idyllic and peaceful, but he shows it's a mistake. His characters are lonely, have a lot of problems. He focuses on their inner world and desires. They try to escape from reality but unfortunately there were no ways of changing in their life.
Winesburg, Ohio. – all the characters live in the same town.
I'm a fool – the author shows an inner monologue of a young man who tells the story of his life. He fell in love with a beautiful girl. To make an impression he pretended he was rich, told the wrong name and address. Girl liked him but he was afraid to confess. They couldn't continue. Narration imitates real speech of a teenager. The author saw art as a means of protest against reality.
S. Lewis Wrote about small town life. He focused on reflection of real facts. The titles became catchwords.
Main street – He attacked the narrowness, hypocrisy and cruelty of small town life. He destroyed the sentimental legend of its idyllic nature. Babbit – he focused on a life story. Babbit is a typical average American, everything that surrounds him is standardised. He condemns the values of middle class America, but he doesn't suggest any other values. In 1930 he became the first American to win the Nobel Prize in Literature, "for his vigorous and graphic art of description and his ability to create, with wit and humour, new types of characters." His works are known for their insightful and critical views of American society and capitalist values. His style is at times droll, satirical, and yet sympathetic.
G. Stein – she attacked the old civilization of XIX c. 1902 – she went to Paris where found a lot of friends among French artists. She wanted to find a new way of looking at world. She experimented with the form of writing, she created her own English: she studied medicine and discovered that repetition is the best way of learning. It became her stylistic device. She threw away the rules of traditional grammar, experimented with the system of tenses. Present is the sum of moments of being. Increasingly, she developed her own highly idiosyncratic, playful, sometimes repetitive and sometimes humorous style.