Anonymity's Greater Role in Modernism
Anonymity has proven to be a very significant aspect of modernist literature. One of the great goals of modernism is change; the idea of taking the traditional and subverting it into something new. Individualism is important to this task, but anonymity serves a significant purpose as well. As many of these texts show, one of the greatest gifts to come from anonymity is objectivity. When one is unseen, and therefore unbothered, he has the opportunity to look at the world with a critically objective eye. It is with this objective eye that a modernist can see the faults of "traditional" literature and make a move towards change. As well, there is a very distinct relationship between anonymity and identity in the modernist era. The modernist world is one which is trying to find itself, a world trying to grapple with its own sense of identity. In such a world, anonymity proves to be a way to come to greater self-understanding. With so many people trying to assert their individualism, it would be easy for someone to get swept up in the subjective ideals of another. In being unrecognized or unknown, that risk is much lower. As with Jay Gatsby, the modernist's use of anonymity can be quite counter-intuitive in that anonymity allows them to be their true selves without the judging eyes of others. Especially when looking at the modernist treatment of the "other", anonymity provides relief from the pre-conceptions of "otherness". The modernists' work was incredibly radical, and it would not be surprising if they were ostracized in the same way as a racial "other'. Anonymity is a mechanism against all kinds of "otherness", including ideological "otherness". This escape from "otherness" promotes change, just as an objective viewpoint does.
Anonymity is necessary to modernist works, for it seems to be an important part of the modernist writing process. The tension between watching from the sidelines and involving oneself, a tension that is clear in Nick Carraway's character, is very prevalent to the modernist experience. Losing yourself to a point of anonymity, as Helga Crane did, could be an important experience to a writer trying to convey a certain lifestyle or idelogy. Similarly, in terms of reception to modernist literature, it is significant that the bulk of modernist artists are unknown to us. F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway do not encompass modernism by any means. Although we easily recognize modernist work in the present day, much of modernism is unknown to us. We think we know what it is, just as we thought we knew everything about Gatsby, but in reality modernism itself is a somewhat anonymous entity. It is true that modernists are defined by their distinct, individual voices, but they have proven to also be defined by that which is unknown or unacknowledged.