The destructive legacy of a vital culture

Modernism entailed not least a rebellion against what were in some cases rather strict rules that previously dictated how people should paint paintings, make poems, design buildings, write novels, compose music etc. The reasons that people found it necessary to challenge and explode the traditional languages of form were numerous and frequently interwoven.

To some extent, it was a matter of wanting to protect serious, well-meaning culture from homogenisation, which was viewed as a threat, as culture suddenly became a concern for each and everybody. As a result of technological innovation, ordinary people gradually could consume music and poetry via gramophone records and radio. Many people suddenly had access to pictorial art via ever cheaper reproductions, and more and more could take part in narratives via newspapers, inexpensive books and movies.

Artists, writers and culturally creative types who considered themselves serious reacted to this development by frequen...

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