ads without products

modernism’s manifest destiny

with 2 comments

From the description of Gabriel Josipovici’s forthcoming What Ever Happened to Modernism at the Yale University Press site:

Modernism, Josipovici suggests, is only superficially a reaction to industrialization or a revolution in diction and form; essentially, it is art coming to consciousness of its own limits and responsibilities. And its origins are to be sought not in 1850 or 1800, but in the early 1500s, with the crisis of society and perception that also led to the rise of Protestantism. With sophistication and persuasiveness, Josipovici charts some of Modernism’s key stages, from Dürer, Rabelais, and Cervantes to the present, bringing together a rich array of artists, musicians, and writers both familiar and unexpected—including Beckett, Borges, Friedrich, Cézanne, Stevens, Robbe-Grillet, Beethoven, and Wordsworth.

Very much in agreement with this approach, I must say, and genuinely excited by the prospect of this book. But it also bears noting that this sort of move, the everything good was always already modernist play, when committed by younger scholars of modernism (say, at a job interview) can land one in a world of hurt – or at least deliver unto you frantic and belligerent questioners. On the other hand, every modernist who has spent some time delivering her or his work to mixed audience is familiar with the argumentum ex Shandy, in which agitated 18th-centuryists, Rennaissancers, medievalists or even ballsy classicists impatiently explain that there was nothing new under the early 20th-century sun…

Even more interesting stuff comes at the end of the paragraph that I just cited:

He concludes with a stinging attack on the current literary scene in Britain and America, which raises questions not only about national taste, but contemporary culture itself.

Wait! What’s that? A work of literary criticism released by an academic publisher that dares to approach the question of What is to be done? here and now – that takes literary production itself as a going, if troubled, concern? What is the world coming to? Nothing to lose but our utterly indifferent irrelevance, I guess…

Hurrah for Josipovici then. Will have more to say about him soon, as I’m currently reading some of his stuff….

(via the perpetually excellent This Space)

Written by adswithoutproducts

April 4, 2010 at 2:33 pm

2 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. “On the other hand, every modernist who has spent some time delivering her or his work to mixed audience is familiar with the argumentum ex Shandy…”

    Think Steven Moore’s The Novel: An Alternative History will be like this?

    marc

    April 5, 2010 at 3:29 am

  2. “Will have more to say about him soon, as I’m currently reading some of his stuff….”

    Ah, excellent. I’ve been hoping you’d read some; I look forward to your thoughts. What have you been reading?

    I should add that Josipovici isn’t quite saying “there’s nothing new under the sun”, though he does locate a certain lineage to which the modernists belong…

    Richard

    April 5, 2010 at 1:15 pm


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: