Postmodern Literature

Postmodern Literature


The term Postmodern literature is used to describe certain characteristics of post– World War II literature (relying heavily, for example, on fragmentation, paradox, questionable narrators, etc.) and a reaction against Enlightenment ideas implicit in Modernist literature.

Postmodern literature, like postmodernism as a whole, is hard to define and there is little agreement on the exact characteristics, scope, and importance of postmodern literature. However, unifying features often coincide with Jean-François Lyotard’s concept of the “metanarrative” and “little narrative”, Jacques Derrida’s concept of “play”, and Jean Baudrillard’s “simulacra.” For example, instead of the modernist quest for meaning in a chaotic world, the postmodern author eschews, often playfully, the possibility of meaning, and the postmodern novel is often a parody of this quest.

This distrust of totalizing mechanisms extends even to the author and his own self-awareness; thus postmodern writers often celebrate chance over craft and employ metafiction to undermine the author’s “univocation” (the existence of narrative primacy within a text, the presence of a single all-powerful storytelling authority). The distinction between high and low culture is also attacked with the employment of pastiche, the combination of multiple cultural elements including subjects and genres not previously deemed fit for literature.


Source: Ramen Sharma and Dr. Preety Chaudhary, Common Themes and Techniques of Postmodern Literature of Shakespeare, available at

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