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Postmodern Ideas and Realism in Works of Fiction


Postmodernism is a broad academic term that came into the limelight in the mid- 1980s. It refers to certain aspects of works on different disciplines done after the Second World War. The works vary from: music, literature, fashion, art, communication, technology, architecture, and sociology among others (Caughie, 196). Post modernism literature is that written during this time period, and has several characteristics which make it vary from modernism. More written materials carry fiction rather than reality. It is difficult to talk about postmodernism without mentioning modernism in the first place. A discussion of the aspects of reality and friction relative to what existed is in essence a basis of the effects such have had. Although the work of realism still continues from the modernism period, there is actually more fictional work than was previously thought and reality in literature has reduced.

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Modernism takes different stands on various issues some that are similar to postmodernism but there is a shift as far as reality and fiction is concern. Modernism writing stressed on how issues took place and not what was perceived to have taken place. It expresses impressionism and subjectivity. Narration point of view changed to non omnipresent first or second person with no clear cut moral lessons from the literature article. The different types of literature material mixed up or overlapped such that poetic work was similar to documentaries and prose seemed poetic for the people. Also stressed on were fragmented and discontinuous narratives which seemed to have random assorted materialistic taste. Reflectivity and self consciousness was paid attention to in details on pieces of the work. This gave the pieces of work a uniqueness that was possible only in particular ways. The much extended formal aesthetics were reduced to minimum, and the spontaneity discovery in creation adopted. There was rejection of the wide difference between the rich and the poor or the cultural backgrounds both in the way the literary material is produced and displayed to the public ( Bradshaw and Dettmar 156-161).

Postmodernism realism and fiction

Postmodernism is based on components that are completely different from the above and can be summarized as in the table below.

Modernism Postmodernism
Rationality Irrationality
Self-consciousness Self-reflexiveness
Cause and effect Simultaneity
Naïve illusionism Anti-illusionism
Transparent language Medium as language
Innocent anecdote Political Olympians
Middle-class moral convection Moral pluralism/ entropy

Linearity Disjunction

The above summary table mentions the characteristics of postmodernism aspect of literature as it dynamically developed from the modernism system.

Several reasons may have led to this transformation from modernism to postmodernism with the increased usage of fiction as reality diminished. These have not only aided the change but sustained postmodernism. All aspects of the current society are dependent on traditional narratives and postmodernism criticizes this (Bertens 7). Since all these traditional narrative explore reality, postmodernism tries to embrace something different that could have a justifiable counter explanation (Bertens 9).

In a bid to achieve this, it settles for fantasies that can pass for reality and therefore increase its usage (Berger 46) as discussed in this paragraph. Some of the things countered are the local events that are not in the large scale concepts of modernism. Another component that has participated in this is language as a whole. The language used in postmodernism is transparent and does not perform any other function beyond representation of life. There are only signifiers in postmodernism. Any stable permanent reality that existed in the language together with the idea disappears. What is left therefore is the fiction that tries to explain what reality would have explained easily by the realities that is already distorted. In modernism and the error that preceded the signifiers pointed to some signified. Enlightenment of thoughts therefore to certain extends help in sustaining the fiction of post modernism. In this system, everything is a copy of an initial work that is rarely traceable. There are no originals, for instance while an individual may paint a sculpture as an original work, there will be thousands of copies of the original that people will hang in houses as the originals fall deep in the safety vaults of swizz banks. The same applies to music recordings among others. Another component of this is the creation of virtual reality in which simulated situation of reality is created without the existence of any original work. Computer usage that has greatly taken place in the postmodernism is involved here. The graphical simulations are purely designed without any initial original work being copied. The question of organization of knowledge also greatly concern postmodernism. A bad, primitive, and irrational notion in the modernism error of equating knowledge with science and hence relative to narratives, science was good knowledge pushed people to postmodernism and postmodernism work. Individuals generally sort knowledge through education simply for the sake of becoming knowledgeable which was viewed as a good thing. This has changed to be functional in post modern society. Learning is not done so that people can simply know but so that the knowledge can be constructively used by the learners. Emphasis her are made on the learners skills and training them instead of the humanist general ideal of the education system. Several questions, especially on matters in the above table such as in politics, are raised in postmodernism (Berger 48).


Several of the factors that influence the postmodernism reality are either societal or natural adjustments to lifestyles. All in all, postmodernism is driving away the realism in literature and replacing it with fiction.

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Works Cited

Bradshaw, David, and Dettmar, Kevin. A companion to modernist literature and culture. Garamond: Wiley-Blackwell, 2006. Print.

Berger, Asa, A. The portable postmodernist. London: Altamira, 2003. Print.

Bertens, Hans. International postmodernism: theory and literary practice. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1997. Print.

Caughie, Pamela. Virginia Woolf & postmodernism: literature in quest & question of itself. Michigan: University of Illinois Press, 1991. Print.

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