"All That Is Solid Melts Into Air"

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2008

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The works of Djuna Barnes and Joseph Conrad will be discussed in this essay, with regard to "All that is Solid Melts into Air", which is one of the numerous descriptions of modernism. This statement can be interpreted in a number of ways, and one of the most obvious interpretations appears to be that everything around us is constantly evolving with time. Here, I shall attempt to show that Barnes' novel, Nightwood, as well as Conrad's short story, The End of the Tether, are good illustrations of this statement, as I am of the opinion that they both touch on various issues that were once taken for granted and were hardly ever challenged.

The two writers have, in their own ways, managed to manipulate these issues in such a way that readers, on a small scale, and society on a larger one, are now being forced out of their original comfort zones, and made to question and re-evaluate their lives in which no one has ever dared or cared enough to defy convention.

Tradition has become a thing of the past, and it is perhaps the ultimate aim of these writers, through their writings, to bring people to the simple, yet often overlooked realization that nothing can, nor should, be assumed to be real and constant.

Both of the texts that I have chosen, deal with the assumption that relationships, of any sort, are generally "solid", or rather, are dependable and would not fail those who are involved in these relationships. The characters appear to have a certain naivety about them, as they seem to believe that just as long as some form of effort is put into the maintenance of their relationships with others, there is no reason for these relationships to disintegrate into nothing. It is as though...