Murder in the Cathedral Historical Context

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World War I and Modernism

The ravages of World War I (1914-1918) brought about the deaths of millions of soldiers and civilians and caused many artists and intellectuals to question the values and assumptions of their worlds and the permanence of civilization. The growth of Modernism, a literary and artistic movement, attested to this newfound refusal to apply old-world values to contemporary life Writers such as Ezra Pound (1885-1972), Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957), Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), James Joyce (1882-1941) and Eliot himself attempted to create new forms of prose, drama, and verse which they thought would reflect what they saw as the often fragmented and hollow nature of their world.

As William Butler Yeats's 1920 poem "The Second Coming" explains, "Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world." Eliot's long, bitter and complicated poem,' 'The Waste Land" (1922) is regarded as one of the...

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Murder in the Cathedral from Drama for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.