It is contradictory that modern authors genuinely believed that their literary pieces cheated death, yet they viewed death negatively. They should have been rejoicing that they were supposedly immortal. However, the question is whether an author is satisfied with his list of accomplished works, and their ability to provide immortality.
Can their list of works satisfy them in death or simply prolong their memory among the living? The uncertainty of what happens to man when he dies drives this negativity. Death is viewed negatively because of the conscious nothingness, as is implied in Hollow Men.If an author can no longer write in death, then what is there to do when he is dead in his conscious nothingness? Will the memory of what an author did on earth be able to satisfy him in his condition after death? The world may remember him, but will that remembrance make him happy in his death. It is contradictory that much like an author, the Unknown Citizen is remembered by the record of his accomplishments.
Yet, there is no indication that any of these events made him happy. He is reduced to a record. He obviously doesn’t live on in the hearts of those who never knew him.According to Brunn, the Unknown Citizen, was about “the plight of modern man as he struggles through life and death in a faceless society. ” The Unknown Citizen has no immortality, perhaps because his accomplishments were not literary. Still, when the Unknown Citizen died, the little accomplishments that he did have could not be taken with him in death.
Immortality can be achieved by an author’s writing or by being written about. Modernist authors became famous for their works. However, their fame inspired others to write about them, therefore perpetuating their immortality, not just their works.The Unknown Citizen is dead because there are no signs of him having an ongoing legacy.
He lived the life of a “saint,” (Auden. 1977) yet in his death, he is a statistic who is no longer remembered. Ironically, all that is known or remembered about him is his poem, which is what makes his boring memory live on.
An author can achieve immortality by how controversial his works were. According to modernist authors, death is negative because of the emptiness that comes with it. As expressed in Hollow Men, life ends in a “whimper” (Eliot, Hollow Men).Death is a loss of the ability to create or express.
Hollow Men are in the “context of an external world, God’s world” (Miller). “The Hollow Men” do not experience a fulfilling death, but a death filled with estrangement. They are not in heaven, but in a state of damnation. They are not the accomplished authors that they were when they were alive. There is a loss of hope. Their literary works are not with them to give them satisfaction.
They are faced with having an existence based on something other than how many books or poems they’ve written. They are forced to find a new value system.This is expressed when they begin to seek God towards the end of the poem. Modernist authors write on the topics of death and immortality because of a human fear as well as a literary one. Man’s fear of death is not a new concept, and is also the case with the modernist authors. What happens to man when he dies is a question that every man wants answered when faced with his own mortality. Modern artists could achieve true immortality if they looked to death in a positive way, with a more optimistic outlook.
This would require that they focus less on their own merits as the things that define the.If an author is defined by only his literary works, then he is not human. The work of modern artists could be more exploratory on the positive outlooks on what life after death is. This exploratory search would not just benefit them psychologically, but it would benefit their works, and make the truly immortal. According to Faulkner, immortality is through the author’s works.
However, the author dies. It is only his works that are immortal. True immortality is the hope of a happy life after death. This hope during life reflected in the author’s literary works could only enhance their literary immortality.
Modern artists simply needed to do some soul searching into a God that was greater than themselves.Works CitedAuden, W. H. From Another Time. Random House, 1940; Poets.
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30 January 2009.