May 12, 2007 at 9:32 pm (Uncategorized)

Postmodern literature arose after World War II as a series of reactions against the perceived norms of modernist literature. Just like postmodernism itself, it is hard to define; Wagner offers this approach: “Postmodernism, then, can be used at least in two ways – firstly, to give a label to the period after 1968 (which would then encompass all forms of fiction, both innovative and traditional), and secondly, to describe the highly experimental literature produced by writers beginning with Lawrence Durrell and John Fowles in the 1960s and reaching to the breathless works of Martin Amis and the “Chemical (Scottish) Generation” of the fin-de-siècle.


Here are the characteristic of Postmodern literature:

  • Mixing of fantasy with nonfiction; blurs lines of reality for reader
  • No heroes
  • Concern with individual in isolation
  • Social issues as writers align with feminist & ethnic groups
  • Usually humorless
  • Narratives
  • Metafiction
  • Present tense
  • Magic realism


  • responses to modernism, especially refusals of some of its totalizing premises and effects, and of its implicit or explicit distinction between ‘high’ culture and commonly lived life,
  • responses to such things as a world lived under nuclear threat and threat to the geosphere, to a world of faster communication, mass mediated reality, greater diversity of cultures and mores and a consequent pluralism,
  • acknowledgments of and in some senses struggles against a world in which, under a spreading technological capitalism, all things are are commodified and fetishized (made the object of desire), and in which genuine experience has been replaced by simulation and spectacle,
  • resultant senses of fragmentation, of discontinuity, of reality as a pastiche rather than as a weave,
  • reconceptualizations of society, history and the self as cultural constructs, hence as rhetorical constructs.


  • Postmodernism rejects Western values and beliefs as only a small part of the human experience and often rejects such ideas, beliefs, culture, and norms.
  • Postmodernism is suspicious of being “profound” because such ideas are based on one particular Western value systems.
  • Postmodernism prefers to dwell on the exterior image and avoids drawing conclusions or suggesting underlying meanings associated with the interior of objects and events.
  • Postmodernism sees human experience as unstable, internally contradictory, ambiguous, inconclusive, indeterminate, unfinished, fragmented, discontinuous, “jagged,” with no one specific reality possible.  Therefore, it focuses on a vision of a contradictory, fragmented, ambiguous, indeterminate, unfinished, “jagged” world.
  • Postmodern writer creates an “open” work in which the reader must supply his own connections, work out alternative meanings, and provide his own (unguided) interpretation.



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