The History of the Pre-Atomic Period

The Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries
The Romantic Period
The Victorian Period
The Post-Victorian Period
The Pre-Atomic Period
The Nuclear Age

Some determining factors of the mood and temperament of this period were: political oppression reared its ugly head when Nazism arose in Germany, Fascism arose in Italy and Spain and absolutism arose in Japan. The Great Depression befell the United States while the rest of the world suffered global depression. Ultimately, capitalism withstood the assault of collectivism and the United States emerged as a world power while the British Empire declined. While these political and economics events occurred, technological revolutions and advances were taking place in the areas of industry, transportation and communications.

Some underlying concepts that describe what motivated the writers of this period were the new role of the novelist and the even stronger role of the critic. Novelists felt a need to speak out against some of the politial and economical upheavel they witnessed. It resulted from a responsibility they felt toward their readers. All novelists - along with their characters, plots and subplots - became vulnerable to criticism when their work was exposed to open to public dissection by the critic. They and their works were no longer held in awe or high reverence where no questions about their work were permitted.

Novelists like Joyce, Lawrence and Conrad and the other authors before the 1930's responded to global changes by meeting them head-on. The major conflicts and problems that were facing the world provided a backdrop for their novels and resulted in a revival of the Post-Victorian novel. Many novelists wrote their works using new ideas from such sciences as psychology, sociology and anthropology. A revival of the Post-Victorian novel was the result.

During this period, literature began to compete with religion as a provider of inspiration and spiritual refreshment. Novelists became the target of the newly exalted critic who held that literature should be differentiated into both good and bad literature. Soon these critics proliferated like new priests who were ordained to oversee the literary flock. When the Atomic Bombs were dropped on Japan, the nuclear age emerged.

Some of the noted novelists of this period are: Sinclair Lewis, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Theodore Dreiser, F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, John Steinbeck, Franz Kafka, Willa Cather, Richard Wright, Thomas Mann, Langston Hughes, C.S. Forester, Herman Hesse and Pearl Buck.