In 1960s, which was said as a decade that has interesting points of similarity with the 1920s where the modernism was at its height, modernism failed to regained preeminence it had enjoyed in the earlier period which led to the emerging of postmodernism. Jeremy Hawthorn explained that both modernism and postmodernism give great prominence to fragmentation as a feature of twentieth century art and culture, but they do so in very different moods. While modernist features it in such a way to register a deep nostalgia for an earlier age when faith was full and authority intact, for postmodernist, by contrast, fragmentation is an exhilarating, liberating, phenomenon, symptomatic to our escape from the claustrophobic embrace of fixed systems of belief. To sum it up, modernists mourn for fragmentation and postmodernist celebrates it.
What postmodernist critics do is that they discover postmodernist theme, tendencies and attitude within literary works of the twentieth century and explore their implication. They foreground fiction which might be said to exemplify the notion of the ‘disappearance of the real’ in which shifting how postmodern identities are seen. They also foreground what is called ‘intertextual element’ in literature such as parody, pastiche, and allusion in all of which there is a major degree of reference between one text or another. Postmodernist also foreground irony and use it to revisited the past with, foreground the element of narcissism, and lastly they challenge the distinction between high and low culture and highlight the text which work as hybrid blends of the two.
Postmodernism literature itself is a form of literature which is mark, both stylistically and ideologically, by a reliance on such literary conventions as fragmentations, paradox, unreliable narrators, often unrealistic and downright impossible plot, games, parody, paranoia, dark humor and authorial self reference. Postmodernism involves not only a continuation, sometimes carried to an extreme, of the counter traditional experiments of modernism, but also diverse attempts to break away from modernist forms which had, inevitably, become in their turn conventional, as well as to overthrow the elitism of modernist “high art”.
One literary works that represent a postmodernism is Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita. Postmodern writers are primarily interested in writing that evokes the fragmentary nature of experience and the complexity of language. Humbert Humbert, the protagonist of Lolita, narrates the novel from a highly subjective point of view, and he uses rich, sophisticated language to do so. Lolita contains a vast variety of linguistic devices, including puns, multilingual expressions, artistic allusions, word patterns, and references to other works. Humbert’s elegant and sinuous prose, however, conceals a subversive intent. The beauty and intensity of the language allow readers to remain sympathetic to the pedophile protagonist and compel them to read further, despite the numerous distressing events within the novel. These values mentioned earlier clearly show that Lolita has the quality of postmodern literary work.