Modernism: A Short Introduction by David Ayers

By David Ayers

This brief creation to Modernism analyses the move from the viewpoint of English and American literature.
Provides a serious assessment of a few of the imperative texts of literary Modernism.
Covers either tested works and those who have just recently come to serious attention.
Includes unique dialogue of significant authors, together with T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, D.H. Lawrence, Wallace Stevens.

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The emphasis on confession (we have already said that the initial line adopts a tone of complicity which we can now see as confessional) is borne out by the references to prophecy – ‘I am no great prophet’ – where the prophet would be the one whose language can master time, see the future. The reference to John the Baptist, himself emblematically figured in death by his head on a plate, indicates the theological dimension of the issue of presentation: it is God alone who is thought to stand outside time and space, but even God must appear by coming to earth, be anticipated and remembered.

My summary of ‘The Waste Land’ did not attract attention to the manner in which the poem is gendered, a complicated issue in the light of the ironic removal of the author and the difficulty of making final, groundable claims about the exact purpose of any particular piece of material which the poem incorporates. Many readers will suspect, unsurprisingly, that this is a sexist poem which has secured its priority through a continued male dominance of the literary canon. There are alternatives and complements to Eliot in the work of female modernist poets which have only recently begun to come into view.

68) 38 CHAPTER 4 Wallace Stevens and Romantic Legacy Wallace Stevens and Romantic Legacy Imagism sought its rationale in objectivity. Eliot’s words were aware of their curious status as objects which belonged to subjects, and his poetry constantly foregrounds their mysterious modality. Stevens’s work resists the apparent objectivity of Imagism. Unlike Eliot, he is not concerned to foreground the instability of language and subject as they stand in relation to each other. Instead, the work of Wallace Stevens, beginning with Harmonium (1923) and Ideas of Order (1935), follows the Romantics in asserting the primacy of imagination (see chapter 10).

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