What is the meaning of the literary term, "Impressionism"? Analise the term with examples.

What is the meaning of the literary term, "Impressionism"? Analyse the term with examples.

Impressionism is a literary or artistic style originated with a group of French artists in the 19th  century. The term derives its origin from the title of Claude Monet’s work  Impression, soleil levant (Impression, Sunrise), which provoked the critic Louis Leroy to coin the term in a satirical review published in the Parisian newspaper Le Charivari.

Impressionists always seek to capture a feeling or experience rather than to depict accurate depiction and perfection. Characteristically impressionist painting include relatively small, thin, yet visible brush strokes, ordinary subject matter, and unusual visual angles. They were always against the rules of academic painting. Among the impressionist painter van Gogh and Renoir come in front.  Painters, however, aren’t the only artists whose work is impressionistic.  There are several authors who also can be placed in this “school,” including Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, and Henry James.
Impression, Sunrise

In literature, impressionist writers exhibit some special traits:

          1. Narrative style and ambiguous meaning are the hallmarks of impressionistic literature. The narrator gives the readers more scope to think, judge and conclude, rather than depending upon him.
          2.  They often describe the action through the eyes of the character while the events are occurring, rather than providing minute details. All of the details seem unclear.

          3. They’re concerned with the “emotional landscape” of the setting. They always want to sketch such a natural background when natural phenomena look pale and weird at the time of suffering and agony of the characters.

          4. They exercise details in such a way that it’s sometimes difficult to see a clear picture of events if one focuses on the details too closely. If readers stand back from the novel he will get the full picture.

          5. They often avoid chronological telling of events. Instead they give the readers information in a way that forces them to focus on how and why things happen, rather than on the order in which they occur.

Joseph Conrad’s The Heart of Darkness is often regarded as one of the prime examples of Impressionistic literature. Throughout the novella, we witness the inner workings of Marlow's thoughts and emotions as he journeys up the Congo River toward the Inner Station and his encounter with Kurtz. In fact, it is Kurtz who presents the major focus on Marlow's attention. However, Marlow never comes out and explicitly tells us what he thinks and believes about Kurtz; instead, Conrad leaves us to draw our own conclusions.

Kurtz, too, is much the same. He also shares his thoughts and feelings about his job and his role in the African jungle and the reader is left to "read between the lines" to interpret his exact meaning. No example could better exemplify the element of Impressionism with the novella than Kurtz's final words: "the horror, the horror." We do not know exactly what "the horror" is and instead are left to devise our own interpretation.


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