• The Traditional Vs The Modern Aspect of Literature

By Ankita Kulkarni in Daily Musings
Updated 19:20 IST Jul 23, 2018
The era of the most famous authors from Britain such as William Shakespeare, Wordsworth and the Bronte sisters was considered to be the most traditional and classical age of English literature. During this era, the writers would be seen sitting on a faraway hill along a flowing river, looking at the blooming flower or the birds singing softly in the trees, which would inspire and motivate them to come up with sonnets or poems. Others would have experienced such severe traumas in their life that their grief would be expressed through their writings. Social pressures, political feudsand deaths would play a major role in igniting the inner flames of expressions of these writers. Their excerpts would have such deep meanings and soulful words that even after centuries, their works would have an extensive impact on the entire world. Their writings expressed feelings with profound vividness and emotion which created freedom of expression. One of Shakespeare’s most famous dialogue from his play Merchant of Venice, “If you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die?”Here, Shylock the Jew is to be expressing his anger and resentment towards Antonio the Christian as Antonio was known to ill-treat the Jews. These few lines have such power in them to make any lay man realise that all of humanity is equivalent, as we all have the same blood running through our veins, our emotions and reactions are also the same, may it be a Jew or a Christian. This was the power of traditional literature. The language was used and twisted in such a way that simple words could illustrate such extensive meanings. Traditional literature was predominantly oral, didactic and mythical, full of romanticism and idealism. Traditional literature was commonly written in a rhythmic pattern in the form of epic poems and sonnets. During that time, the human civilization was more tribal and national. The writers tried to portray what their community, country was best at or what it was going through. The epic poems described the great battles of their countries, while the sonnets described the nature’s beauty or love. The masses would be inspired and awed by these brilliant pieces of literature and they would read them thoroughly as they had very few options available with them. Most of these pieces would be performed in theatres in the form of dramas and narrations. Spiritual excerpts would be read to the masses in church. Experiencing literature was considered to be more of a social activity. The circulation of literary works expanded after the invention of the printing press. But, the concept of literature is seen to be changing rapidly in the modern days. After the invention of the printing press, the literary text became more nationalised. Excerpts would be printed in newspapers; publishing houses came into existence and writers increased in number. Printed material played a significant role in the development of the modern sense of personal privacy and private ownership. As books became portable and more affordable, reading became a solitary rather than a social activity and people wished to own the books they were reading in private.The type of literature also changed from the concepts of romanticisms and describing braveries to more individuality concepts. The types of writing also grew widely from satirical writers or novelists to play writers, lyricists, speech writer, critics to the contemporary days of bloggers. The printing press laid the foundation for today’s models of commercial writing, introducing the concepts of ownership and mass publication. The numerous and important effects of the printing press directly led to the industrial and electronic age that produced the computer. The invention of computers and the internet led to the development of electronic writing which significantly affected the traditional writing. Written material became easily available and reachable. People gained a much bigger platform for publishing their works. Even the works of classic authors began to be published all over the internet so it could reach even the farthest corners of the earth. Writers as well as readers were no more confined only to the literature that was available in their communities. People from India could access pieces of literature which were written by British or European authors and visa-versa. This brought about a tremendous change in the way people viewed language and literature until now. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and many other internet based websites became a major stage for literature. A few decades back, there would only be a handful of writers who could write novels and plays and very few of their works would become famous or get published. But now in the modern era, any common man who suddenly had an urge to write a novel one day could use the electronic medium of writing and easily publish his work on the social media. A classic example of this was a recent novel which was released on twitter through a series of 900 tweets by Nicholas Belardes. The publication of this kind of a unique written material became famous as ‘Twitterature”. This was the change that could be predominantly seen between the traditional and modern literature. Where in the bygone days, the feel of the paper and the hardbound book were the main sources of literature, in the contemporary days, technology has become a major source for literary content. The style of writing has also become shorter and direct. Where the traditional authors tried to pour their souls into their written works, the modern literature is more direct in its approach and tries to incorporate in it the day to day aspects of the common man. It is believed to be more individual and humanitarian in nature. The internet now tends to individual needs of the reader. Where in the previous years, authors relied on the belief that someone is taking time to sit down and read their piece from cover to cover with no option for any other source of information. The author had the power to direct the flow of information and had more freedom in choosing his writing style. But as time passed, the trends changed. Now no one has the leisure of reading an excerpt in detail. People tend to look for more need based material online. If they are unable to find the required material in the first two lines or so they lose interest in the material and look for other sources. Writers began to use more of the colloquial language and conversational tones as compared to conventional use of rhythmic, poetic language. As the modern world is quick in its approach and fast moving, people hardly seem to find time for leisure readings. They need something which they can read quickly and still are able to gain a lot of information from it. This led to the introduction of catchy titles, short paragraphs and bullet points. The traditional English language also went a huge change due to the various inventions of technology. The rise in popularity of the internet gave rise to the internet slang. Abbreviations such as LOL (Laugh Out Loud) or TTYL (Talk To You Later) and YOLO (You Live Only Once) came in to existence. Use of words and sentence structure also changed due to the influence of social media. Phrases such as ‘Have you a moment’ which was commonly used decades ago has changes to ‘D’ya have a sec?’ or ‘How do you do’ has changed to ‘How you doing’. These are the major effects that the growing technology and social media have had on literature and language in the modern days. This is how the traditional writings have given way to changes in literary concepts.
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