Modernism Essay Example

The term modernism is commonly used to identify new and distinctive features in literature, typically post World War I. The idea of modernism texts is to present how things are perceived or basically explain how the process of something is being told. Anna Akhmatova’s Requiem is an example of a “modern” themed text. Modernism’s intellectual views are more about being able expand your way of telling a story so that it leads to an expanding of understanding it. Modernism kicked off after WW1, and this traumatic event in history led distressed writers like Akhmatova to present their work as art. For instance, something that doesn’t change when you look at in a hundred years even when the rest of the world does. It’s history, something that’s in the past, but never changes. The big idea of culturally expanding a “modernist” mind is to not focus so much on traditional writing, but to focus on pain. For example, the death of Akhmatova’s son is the inspiration behind Requiem.

The ‘Instead of a Preface’ in Requiem is in the setting of when Anna is outside the prison gates with all of the other mothers, wives, and sisters. She is asked, “Can you describe this?” And she answered, “Yes, I can.” (p.568) “This” is the description of everything that’s been happening with Stalin during that time. Anna doesn’t talk about all those things, but this modernist act on perceiving what is being read is up to the reader’s point of view to know what she really means.

For the historical characteristic, I don’t think there is a specific quote in the story that relates to the subject. It’s the whole poem. Requiem was written to not be forgotten. Akhmatova wrote this not just for herself, but for all of the other mothers, wives, and sisters that lost their loved ones in such a horrific time. She meant for this story to remind anyone that reads it to also think from a point of view of those people outside of the jail looking in.

The story Requiem is made up of several shorter poems. It’s not as traditional as other writers in the past that we’ve looked at in class. It focuses on a sense of loss and discouragement. Akhmatova lost her son, the one thing left in the world that gave her hope. “ I am waiting for you- I can’t stand much more…” (p.572) Akhmatova is wanting to die because nothing matters to her anymore. She is wanting death to come take her now because she has nothing left. A mourning mother over the loss of her child is a pain that no one can try to fix or understand. Akhmatova defiantly focused on pain in this story.

Anna Akhmatova’s Requiem fits into the modernist writing category. She took a part from her own personal life experience and made it into one of the greatest stories of the late 1900’s. It’s significant because she wrote it from the point of view of all of the people that lost loved ones during this time. Akhmatova doesn’t write Requiem in any traditional way; she made a story out of several poems. Her modernist mindset describes how things are instead of what they are.


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