Modernist poet T. S. Eliot wrote vehemently against prose poems, though he did try his hand at one or two. He also added to the debate about what defines the genre, saying in his introduction to Djuna Barnes highly poeticized 1936 novel Nightwood that this work may not be classed as "poetic prose" as it did not have the rhythm or "musical pattern" of verse. In contrast, a couple of other Modernist authors wrote prose poetry consistently, including Gertrude Stein and Sherwood Anderson. In actuality, Anderson considered his work to be short fictionsin the current term, "flash fiction." The distinction between flash fiction and prose poetry is at times very thin, almost indiscernible.
By Grand Central Station I Sat Down and Wept by Canadian author Elizabeth Smart, written in 1945, is a relatively isolated example of English-language poetic prose in the mid-20th century. Then, for a while, prose poems died out, at least in Englishuntil the early 1950s and 60s, when American poets such as Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Russell Edson, Charles Simic, Robert Bly and James Wright experimented with the form. Edson, indeed, worked principally in this form, and helped give the prose poem its current reputation for surrealist wit. Similarly, Simic won the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his 1989 collection, The World Doesnt End.
At the same time, poets elsewhere were exploring the form in Spanish, Japanese and Russian. Octavio Paz worked in this form in Spanish in his Aguila o Sol? (Eagle or Sun?). Spanish poet ngel Crespo (1926-95) did his most notable work in the genre. Giannina Braschi, postmodern Spanish-language poet, wrote a trilogy of prose poems, El imperio de los suenos (Empire of Dreams, 1988). Translator Dennis Keene presents the work of six Japanese prose poets in The Modern Japanese Prose Poem: an Anthology of Six Poets. Similarly, Adrian Wanner and Caryl Emerson describe the forms growth in Russia in their critical work, Russian Minimalism: from the Prose Poem to the Anti-story. The two best-known examples of this literary form in Russian are Gogols Dead Souls and Venedikt Erofeevs Moscow-Petushki.
In Poland, Bolesław Prus (1847-1912), influenced by the French prose poets, had written a number of poetic micro-stories, including "Mold of the Earth" (1884), "The Living Telegraph" (1884) and "Shades" (1885).
The form has gained popularity since the late 1980s, and literary journals that previously disputed prose poetrys contributions to both poetry and prose currently display prose poems next to sonnets and short stories. Journals have even begun to specialize, publishing solely prose poems/flash fiction in their pages (see external links below). Some contemporary writers who write prose poems or flash fiction include Michael Benedikt, Robert Bly, Anne Carson, Kim Chinquee, Richard Garcia, Ray Gonzalez, Lyn Hejinian, Louis Jenkins, Campbell McGrath, Sheila Murphy, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Oliver, David Shumate, James Tate, and J. Marcus Weekley, Ron Silliman, and John Olson.
It used to be said that prose poetry was impossible in English because the English language was not so strictly governed by rules as was the French language. This seems not to be so strictly held in the twenty-first century.
Rapturous, rhythmic, image-laden prose from previous centuries, such as that found in Jeremy Taylor and Thomas de Quincey, strikes 21st-century readers as having something of a poetic quality. Using figurative language to provoke thought, it invites a reader into unusual perspectives to question what is traditionally thought of, as in Richard Garcias "Chickenhead."
Flash fiction is fiction of extreme brevity. The standard, generally-accepted length of a flash fiction piece is 1000 words or less. By contrast, a short-short measures 1001 words to 2500 words, and a traditional short story measures 2501 to 7500 words. A novelette runs from 7501 words to 17,500, a novella 17,501 words to 40,000 words, and a novel 40,001 words and up. In theater script and poetry writing, vignettes are short, impressionistic scenes that focus on one moment or give a trenchant impression about a character, an idea, or a setting. This type of scene is more common in recent postmodern theater, where adherence to the conventions of theatrical structure and story development are jettisoned. It is particularly influenced by contemporary notions of a scene as shown in film, video and television scripting. Unlike the traditional scene in a play, the vignette is not strictly linked in with a sequential plot development but establishes meaning through loose symbolic or linguistic connection to other vignettes or scenes. Vignettes are the literary equivalent of a snapshot, often incomplete or fragmentary. In poetry, in the quintain form, they can relate to a short descriptive literary sketch or a short scene or incident from a movie or play. The use of vignettes is suited to those plays in which theme, image, emotion and character are more important than narrative, though this doesnt mean that a vignette is out of place as an element in a more narrative play.
1.2 The similarity and difference of themes and genres of the leading literature representatives
The term English literature refers to literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; Joseph Conrad was Polish, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, V.S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad, Vladimir Nabokov was Russian. In other words, English literature is as diverse as the varieties and dialects of English spoken around the world. In academia, the term often labels departments and programmes practising English studies in secondary and tertiary educational systems. Despite the variety of authors of English literature, the works of William Shakespeare remain paramount throughout the English-speaking world.
This article primarily deals with literature from Britain written in English. For literature from specific English-speaking regions, consult the see also section at the bottom of the page.
Early Modern period
The Elizabethan era saw a great flourishing of literature, especially in the field of drama. The Italian Renaissance had rediscovered the ancient Greek and Roman theatre, and this was instrumental in the development of the new drama, which was then beginning to evolve apart from the old mystery and miracle plays of the Middle Ages. The Italians were particularly inspired by Seneca (a major tragic playwright and philosopher, the tutor of Nero) and Plautus (its comic clichs, especially that of the boasting soldier had a powerful influence on the Renaissance and after). However, the Italian tragedies embraced a principle contrary to Senecas ethics: showing blood and violence on the stage. In Senecas plays such scenes were only acted by the characters [18, 123]. But the English playwrights were intrigued by Italian model: a conspicuous community of Italian actors had settled in London and Giovanni Florio had brought much of the Italian language and culture to England. It is also true that the Elizabethan Era was a very violent age and that the high incidence of political assassinations in Renaissance Italy (embodied by Niccol Machiavellis The Prince) did little to calm fears of popish plots. As a result, representing that kind of violence on the stage was probably more cathartic for the Elizabethan spectator. Following earlier Elizabethan plays such as Gorboduc by Sackville & Norton and The Spanish Tragedy by Kyd that was to provide much material for Hamlet, William Shakespeare stands out in this period as a poet and playwright as yet unsurpassed. Shakespeare was not a man of letters by profession, and probably had only some grammar school education. He was neither a lawyer, nor an aristocrat as the "university wits" that had monopolised the English stage when he started writing. But he was very gifted and incredibly versatile, and he surpassed "professionals" as Robert Greene who mocked this "shake-scene" of low origins [23, 145]. Though most dramas met with great success, it is in his later years (marked by the early reign of James I) that he wrote what have been considered his greatest plays: Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, King Lear, Macbeth, Antony and Cleopatra, and The Tempest, a tragicomedy that inscribes within the main drama a brilliant pageant to the new king. Shakespeare also popularized the English sonnet which made significant changes to Petrarchs model.
The movement known as English literary modernism grew out of a general sense of disillusionment with Victorian era attitudes of certainty, conservatism, and objective truth. The movement was greatly influenced by the ideas of Romanticism, Karl Marxs political writings, and the psychoanalytic theories of subconscious - Sigmund Freud. The continental art movements of Impressionism, and later Cubism, were also important inspirations for modernist writers.
Although literary modernism reached its peak between the First and Second World Wars, the earliest examples of the movements attitudes appeared in the mid to late nineteenth century. Gerard Manley Hopkins, A. E. Housman, and the poet and novelist Thomas Hardy represented a few of the major early modernists writing in England during the Victorian period.
The first decades of the twentieth century saw several major works of modernism published, including the seminal short story collection Dubliners by James Joyce, Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness, and the poet