Postmodernism Genres typically have traits or overarching themes attached to them. They typically take them on in the names as well. For instance Sci-fi, romance, westerns, etc. Than there is one type that is ambiguous as the literary moveme...
Genres typically have traits or overarching themes attached to them. They typically take them on in the names as well. For instance Sci-fi, romance, westerns, etc. Than there is one type that is ambiguous as the literary movement itself. This is called postmodernism. The question posed here is, should we call postmodernism a time period or a genre?
In all honesty it's probably a little of both. It arose after the modernist and the Second World War. In that way it is absolutely post-modern. Literally. But as a genre it is harder to pin down and that's because the writing itself is so hard to pin down. Even after numerous re-readings of the book it might be hard to understand what is happening. Obviously that's intended. See Gravity's Rainbow, The Recognitions, etc, etc, etc.
That doesn't mean themes aren't completely obvious upon first readings. For instance Gaddis proved one very important theme that would resonate. There doesn't need to be a cohesive end because there was never a story in which there was one needed. There were never any questions asked or expectations to be met. It was a story without resolution. And this can all too easily be viewed as a metaphor for life, as in while we fabricate stories for ourselves and become infatuated with the end or the destination life itself doesn't view it that way or quite simply it doesn't care.
But does that really matter? Does any of it matter. And if so why. And how can we make sense of it. Whether it's through entropy (Pynchon), misanthropy (Gaddis), confusion, a fractured narrative, endless (sub)plot lines, or an intense magnification of societal issues to the point of almost sheer tediousness and monotony (Gass, DFW, Barth, McElroy, Delillo...lets just go with all of the above). Or humor. A dark humor that might disgust, repel, or revolt you in a ribald, assaulting, and/or personal level (All of the above).
No matter what conclusion you come to you can be rest assured there will be a heavy dose of paranoia as a result. And that's obviously fully intended. Which is good. It makes you question things. And it makes you think, which is becoming scarce in today's culture. Maybe we need postmodernism more than ever. Because we're losing this ability to think when all of our interactions are essentially micro-interactions. Done through 150 characters or even less in a text. Conversations are an art form now because so few people know what it means to truly interact anymore. Even the older generations that curse younger people for always being on their phones. Maybe it's envy that causes that. because they had to go out and buy a newspaper or walk ten miles in the snow uphill in the dark both ways to school while digging trenches on weekends.
Or maybe it really is just a time period that took place from somewhere around 1955 until let's go with 2001. With some roots dating back to Beckett, Flann O'Brien and Faulkner — As far back as 1929. Or even further back with the famous Tristan's Shandy in the 1700's.
But there needs to be a foundation for a well built temple. Which is what it has become. And (unfortunately) that temple is crumbling to ruins as we lose the giants of that time period, slowly but surely.
Let me put it this way, Delillo, Barth, McElroy (the forgotten son), Gass, and Pynchon are all closer to 100 than 50.
Also in the event of the time period argument to be made, you'd inevitably be pairing up authors like Robert Coover with Stephen King or Barthelme with Andy Weir. Which should probably fall under the example section of the definition of absurd.
So yes, this is a biased post. I fully believe those who want to insist postmodernism is a time period rather than a genre or type of literature are fundamentally wrong. But I guess it depends on the fundamentals we're looking at.