ENGLISH NOVEL IN THE FIRST HALF OF 20TH CENTURY
Literature in 20th century begins with a serie of movements, some of them contradictory between them, as Symbolism, Decadentism, Impressionism and, in Hispanic literature, Modernism, The Generation of '98.
During the two first decades , two literary conceptions are imposed to writters: Those writters for whom literary work is the expression of a cultural experience and fall in intellectualism; and writters who, in view of the chaos of the time and the dissatisfaction of bourgeois world, see literary work as an adventure, as an irrational experience.
In the thirties, some historic and socioeconomic facts, affected literature. It will express the search, through the action, of ethical values.
After the World War, writters will insist in the same attitudes: moral crisis and tecnical experimentation.
Coinciding the beginning of the new century with Queen Victoria's death in 1901, Britain seemed to start a new period that wasn't seen immediately, because the short reign of Edward VII (1901-1910) was the continuity of the previous period. English society was divided in social classes: wealth was held by a few people thanks for the Industrial Revolution. The poor were still poor, although by the Educative Act of 1870 some instruction was guaranteed. The first threats for Britain appeared with anglo-boer war to become evident in 1914 with the beginning of the First World War.
In ideas, changes were more spectacular. In the beginning of the century Einstein's relativity theory becomes true, and in 1905 Freud's new theories started to be renewal in human interpretation. Nothing could be like before, because art and ideas wished to advance quickly. Even in picture, for example, Cubism and Dadaism broke all imaginable visual molds: Modernism crystallized as a global result of all possible desires of change and renovation. In fact, every intellectual, political or artistic movement tries to broke with the past and fix new directions to follow. Modernism, not only wished to broke with the past, but also abolish them. However, it wasn't possible; in ideas world always exists something "already invented" where we resort to and in this way, Modernism had to create its own tradition, looking for affinities in the past history.
In literature, it was the Ullyses (1922) by James Joyce the work that produced the true impact because of its new character and its perfect style and the scandol of its publication. The woman would have an important paper in the society and this would have an excellent representant in Virginia Woolf (1882-1941). She belongs to an artistic and intellectual circle in Bloomsbury. Woolf was a writer with a lot of sensibility and wrote a beautiful poetic prose in the shape of novels like Mrs Dalloway and To the Lighthouse.