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Thomas Eliot

            English poetry of the early 20th century.
             The end of the 19th century witnessed unprecedented outbreak of drastic changes caused by the intensifying contradictions between the antiquated social order and the demands of the time. Those contradictions touched upon practically every sphere of social life and only deepened in the early 20th century. The new progressive age admitted no compromises with the antiquated social existence. In poetry it demanded new verse, new structures and revolutionary new views and visions. As a result, Europe saw a cultural and artistic hey-day, as symbolism and modernism in art and literature flourished throughout the continent, especially in France and Russia.
             In Britain the new epoch with all the complexities of modern civilization came to take the place of the Victorian Age, which was the period of the country's colonial expansion and predominance in international trade on the one hand - and the domination of very strict, almost puritan morals in the social consciousness on the other. By that time English literature had "stumbled", as it were, just marking time and making no headway, so to speak. Poetry of the period seemed to have exhausted its civic and moral spirit, peculiar to the works of the great masters of the past like Shakespeare, Milton and Byron. Therefore, the new generation of poets rose in a protest against the cultural values and traditions of the Victorian Age, trying to give English poetry a new creative urge.
             The non-academic literary movements of aestheticism, pre-Raphaelitism, imagism and others appeared in succession, nurturing a whole race of prose writers, poets, dramatist and philosophers. These people were to reform the literature of their time and to shape modern language, literary styles, poetic diction and verse. They also encouraged changes in social life as a result of the development of the social consciousness of people.

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