By Geoff Gilbert
Sooner than Modernism was once areas modernist writing in the texture of contemporary background. Texts by way of Woolf, James, Freud, Wyndham Lewis, Stein, Malinowski, and others are learn via quite a number figures that build and disrupt sleek that means: the ghost that has effects on the price of your home; the sulky, graceless adolescent; the Pole who is probably not Polish; the apprehensive proprietor of the puppy; the addict and her smoke. Eccentric to its associations, those figures are principal to the constituency of modernism.
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Extra resources for Before Modernism Was: Modern History and the Constituencies of Writing 1900-30 (Language, Discourse, Society)
John Middleton Murry is willing to take Dostoevsky very seriously indeed; he seems even eager to risk nakedness and cold. His enthusiastic hailing of the Russian writer, as ‘a phenomenon which has lately burst upon our astonished minds, [. ] towards which an attitude must be determined quickly, almost at the peril of our souls,’40 implies a welcoming of the impossibility of a comfortable relationship between literature and living. 41 It does this ﬁrst by destroying temporality; with that destruction a viable relation between ﬁction and life is undone: A novel [.
18 Lily herself articulates it: One wanted ﬁfty pairs of eyes to see with, she reﬂected. Fifty pairs of eyes were not enough to get round that woman with, she thought. Among them must be one that was stone blind to her beauty. 19 This secret sense, ghostly in its vacancy and profusion, follows closely the path of the ﬂood of darkness which had earlier effaced body and furniture together. The idea that getting rid of the house will give us ‘the person’ and the ‘complete’ artwork disavows this alignment, where the aesthetic sense necessary to give us the person is the same destructive dark force that will cause the house to crumble.
45 ‘Writing ﬁction [. ’46 34 Before Modernism Was Modernism is an effect of and a response to this. 47 But the sense of something gone wild, the anxious or exhilarated sense of the anarchic threat of market expansion and literary speculation, is lost in his immensely productive account of the relation between the textual development of modernism and the structure of the reading public. He loses the sense of the why of modernism, the sense clearly there in Woolf’s demand for the rescuing of Mrs Brown from buildings and Mr Bennett.