Before Modernism Was: Modern History and the Constituency of by G. Gilbert

By G. Gilbert

Prior to Modernism was once locations modernist writing in the texture of recent background. Texts via Woolf, James, Freud, Wyndham Lewis, Stein, Malinowski, and others are learn via more than a few figures that build and disrupt sleek that means: the ghost that has effects on the worth of your home; the sulky, graceless adolescent; the Pole who is probably not Polish; the fearful proprietor of the puppy; the addict and her smoke. Eccentric to its associations, those figures are valuable to the constituency of modernism.

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43 Taking Dostoevsky seriously, then, for these writers, reveals something -economics, suffering, the materiality of the book- beneath or behind the protections of literature. This something appears to be both around the literary text, in its social scene, and within it. According to jacques Copeau, quoted above, fear is produced here as a result of recognition: something constitutional, a grabbing in the guts which responds to the urgent appeal of Dostoevsky. This is why, for Copeau, writers turn away 16 Before Modernism Was appalled from their troubling fascination with his work, and replace him at a safer distance.

The figurations - the exorbitant processes of literature which mark modernist writing, shadow closely the figure of the ghost. In this chapter I read a range of writers who are considered modernist, as they attempt to create the properties of modernism in relation to questions of money and value: works by Virginia Woolf, Henry james, and Wyndham Lewis are analysed in relation to discourses of literary and domestic property, and in relation to the burgeoning market for popular fiction, including the literary commodity, the 'ghost story'.

17 There persists an alignment of the vision of the novel with those 'destructive elements' which would have houses and forms collapse. 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. One wanted most some secret sense, fine as air, with which to steal through keyholes and surround her where she sat knitting, talking, sitting silent in the window alone; which took to itself and treasured up like the air which held the smoke of the steamer, her thoughts, her imaginations, her desires.

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