Significant precursors of English postmodern literature  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
English literature, postmodern literature

Postmodernist writers often point to early novels and story collections as inspiration for their experiments with narrative and structure: Don Quixote, 1001 Arabian Nights, The Decameron, Candide, among many others. In the English language, Laurence Sterne's 1759 novel The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, with its heavy emphasis on parody and narrative experimentation, is often cited as an early echo of postmodernism. Other significant examples of 18th century parody include the works of Jonathan Swift and Shamela by Henry Fielding. There were many 19th century examples of attacks on Enlightenment concepts, parody, and playfulness in literature including Lord Byron's satire, especially Don Juan; Thomas Carlyle's Sartor Resartus; Alfred Jarry's ribald Ubu parodies and his invention of 'Pataphysics; Lewis Carroll's playful experiments with signification; the work of Isidore Ducasse, Arthur Rimbaud, Oscar Wilde, etc. Playwrights who worked in the late 19th and early 20th century whose thought and work influenced the aesthetic of postmodernism include Swedish dramatist August Strindberg, the Italian author Luigi Pirandello, and the German playwright and theorists Bertolt Brecht. In the 1910s, artists associated with Dadaism celebrated chance, parody, playfulness, and attacked the central role of the artist. Tristan Tzara claimed in "How to Make a Dadaist Poem" that to create a Dadaist poem one had only to put random words in a hat and pull them out one by one. Another way Dadaism influenced postmodern literature was in the development of collage, specifically collages using elements from advertisement or illustrations from popular novels (the collages of Max Ernst, for example). Artists associated with Surrealism, which developed from Dadaism, continued experimentations with chance and parody while celebrating the flow of the subconscious. André Breton, the founder of Surrealism, suggested that automatism and the description of dreams should play a greater role in the creation of literature. He used automatism to create his novel Nadja and used photographs to replace description as a parody of the overly-descriptive novelists he often criticized. Surrealist René Magritte's experiments with signification are used as examples by Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. Foucault also uses examples from Jorge Luis Borges, an important direct influence on many Postmodernist fiction writers. He is occasionally listed as a Postmodernist though he started writing in the 1920s. The influence of his experiments with metafiction and magical realism was not fully realized until the postmodern period.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Significant precursors of English postmodern literature" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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