English Literature in the Twentieth Century

English Literature in the Twentieth Century

English Literature in the Twentieth Century

English Literature in the Twentieth Century

Excerpt

The death of Queen Victoria in the first year of the twentieth century marks with a convenient definiteness the beginning of a new age. In international politics England's position of "splendid isolation" was abandoned in favor of an entente cordiale with France, which the new sovereign, Edward VII, had a considerable share in arranging. Great Britain had emerged from the Boer War victorious, but with diminished prestige; the German Emperor's congratulatory cablegram to President Kruger had aroused British animosity, and the British Government's counter stroke of sending the White Squadron out into the North Sea had excited German fears. Germany set about the increase of her own fleet to a strength that caused further irritation of British susceptibilities, and Europe seemed to be divided into two armed camps. All that the diplomatists could do was to defer the outbreak of the inevitable conflict to 1914.

The Great War suspended every peaceful human activity, and reduced the arts, including literature, almost to silence. Indeed the period for all Europe might be divided into pre-war and post-war, for the whole world is still suffering from the results of the disaster. The delicately balanced economic and financial relations by which the world's business was carried on were upset and have not yet recovered their equilibrium.

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