The Twentieth Century section of Norton Topics Online sheds light on the impact of the First World War and the rise of literary modernism.  A third topic surveys the difficult but, in literary terms, dynamic relationship between Ireland and England throughout the century. 

Suggested uses of Norton Topics Online: The Twentieth Century with The Norton Anthology of English Literature, Eighth Edition (anthology page references for the new Eighth Edition are included below):

Representing the Great War

Thomas Hardy, Channel Firing NAEL8.2.1877
A. E. Housman, Epitaph on an Army of Mercenaries NAEL8.2.1953
W. B. Yeats, In Memory of Major Robert Gregory NAEL8.2.2034
W. H, Auden, September 1, 1939 NAEL8.2.2432

Representing the Great War supplements and expands the anthology cluster Voices from World War I.  In addition to shedding light on war poets like Owen and Sassoon, this topic cluster is a valuable companion to the rise of modernism which received a powerful impulse from the shock of the Great War.  The anthology’s coverage of Yeats is augmented with further poetry and prose.  The selections gathered here also serve as a valuable background to the poetry and prose of the Second World War by Auden, Sitwell, and Douglas and others, who wrote in the ambiguous shadow of their famous predecessors. 

The Modernist Experiment

Oscar Wilde, Preface to The Picture of Dorian Gray NAEL8.2.1697
modernist manifestos NAEL8.2.1996

Virginia Woolf, The Mark on the Wall Modern Fiction

James Joyce, Ulysses NAEL8.2.2087
Finnegans Wake NAEL8.2.2200
T. S. Eliot NAEL8.2.2239
Samuel Beckett, Endgame NAEL8.2.2286
Salman Rushdie, The Prophet's Hair NAEL8.2.2854
Paul Muldoon NAEL8.2.2868

The Modernist Experiment offers a selection of key documents and images illuminating the High Modernism of Woolf, Joyce, and Eliot.  This topic also supplements and expands the anthology cluster of Modernist Manifestos, and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska’s vorticist message from the trenches enhances the study of the aesthetic impact of the First World War.  The texts gathered here will be vital in tracing the intellectual trajectory of modernism, from its origins in the aesthetic movement of the 1890s, exemplified by Wilde, through to its later manifestations in Beckett, and the postmodernism of Rushdie and Muldoon.

Imagining Ireland

William Butler Yeats NAEL8.2.2019
James Joyce NAEL8.2.2163
Brian Friel, Translations


Seamus Heaney NAEL8.2.2822
Eavan Boland NAEL8.2.2848
Paul Muldoon NAEL8.2.2868
Anonymous, Proclamation of an Irish Republic


Jonathan Swift, A Modest Proposal NAEL8.1.2462

The Plurality of Worlds considers those scientific methods, philosophies and technologies of the Restoration and the eighteenth century which exerted the most pervasive influence upon people's views of the world and their place in it. Newton's theories of light and Galileo's telescopic observations of the universe are among the readings which provide a background crucial to understanding Pope's idea of man's place in God's vast universe, and Smart's joyous adoration of creation's variety. Cavendish's claim, "I have made a world of my own: for which no body, I hope, will blame me, since it is in every one's power to do the like" (NAEL8.1.1781), reveals the imaginative possibilities of this new sense of a universe that stretched from the microscopic worlds espied by Hooke and van Leeuwenhoek, to the distant galaxies postulated by Wright.

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