The Modernist Review #39

4 April 2022

In the UK over the last couple weeks there has been a noticeable uptick of sunshine, birdsong, and lamb sightings – we’ve crunched the numbers and can only conclude that Spring is finally here. Our issue this month is ripe with reviews, as our authors have emerged like hibernating animals from a winter spent hunkered by the fire reading their critical works of choice. Their thoughtful reflections of the newest contributions to the modernist marketplace of ideas are nicely rounded out by our lone article this month, an investigation of Mina Loy’s playful reconstruction of poetic form, culminating in her design of a build-it-yourself alphabet. If the weather holds – or maybe you permanently live somewhere sunnier than we do! – we recommend reading outside (though pack a jacket… and maybe a scarf, still).

Continue reading “The Modernist Review #39”

Mina Loy, Logopoeia, and the Alphabet that Builds Itself

4 April 2022
Bowen Wang, Trinity College Dublin

Ezra Pound, in a review titled ‘Marianne Moore and Mina Loy’ published in Others: A Magazine of the New Verse (1917), speaks highly of these two modernist women poets and associates them with the last type of his poetry typology: Continue reading “Mina Loy, Logopoeia, and the Alphabet that Builds Itself”

Book Review: Modern Writers, Transnational Literatures: Rabindranath Tagore and W. B. Yeats

4 April 2022

Jinan Ashraf, Dublin City University

Ragini Mohite, Modern Writers, Transnational Literatures: Rabindranath Tagore and W. B. Yeats (Liverpool: Clemson University Press, 2021)

There appears to be no end of critical and interpretive studies on Rabindranath Tagore and W. B. Yeats. This is in part due to their distinct positions as predecessors of modernisms, the availability of cross-referenced studies on their literary and cross-cultural collaborations, their thematic formulations of aesthetic modernisms, and ideations of the home and the hearth across a range of literary forms borrowing from European, Asiatic and Eastern literary traditions. Readers of Modern Writers, Transnational Literatures: Rabindranath Tagore and W.B. Yeats would appreciate Ragini Mohite’s timely and nuanced study of the fraught relationship between Yeats and Tagore both for its modernist perspective and transnational discourse. Mohite is sensitive to Yeats’ and Tagore’s complex positions as contemporaneous intertextualists in attending to the ‘complementarity, tensions, and thematic echoes’ (p. 4) in such texts as Tagore’s Gora, The Home and the World, Red Oleanders, and The Post Office and Yeats’ Cathleen ni Houlihan and Purgatory besides others. Mohite’s useful tracing of paternalist tropes in colonial and gendered spaces allows readers to locate thematic and formal resonances in the works of Yeats and Tagore while making these writers quite apparent subjects for a study of the broad networks and borders of transnational currents in literary studies in the twenty-first century.  Continue reading “Book Review: Modern Writers, Transnational Literatures: Rabindranath Tagore and W. B. Yeats”

Book Review: Historical Modernisms: Time, History and Modernist Aesthetics

4 April 2022

Katie Jones, Swansea University

Jean-Michel Rabaté and Angeliki Spiropoulou (eds.). Historical Modernisms: Time, History and Modernist Aesthetics (London, New York, New Delhi, Sydney: Bloomsbury Academic, 2022)

Marking the centenary of modernism’s year of miracles, Historical Modernisms makes a timely addition to scholarship – but not only for this reason. The eleven chapters, including an interview with Hayden White, explore and undo modernism’s associations with ahistoricity, as supposedly exemplified by the avant-gardes, by reading modernist arts in context. Jean-Michel Rabaté and Angeliki Spiropoulou expertly introduce the book; they ‘remain sceptical about the idea of transhistorical modernism, as do all the contributors to [Historical Modernisms]’ (5).  While we might locate modernity across time, as a reterospectively given term, modernism– unlike “dada” or similar self-defined movements – implies the critical urge to delineate, thereby restricting its usefulness to describe works of other eras. Continue reading “Book Review: Historical Modernisms: Time, History and Modernist Aesthetics”

Modernist and Avant-Garde Performance: Call for Papers

Olga Taxidou observes that, ‘the concept of performance [has] remained singularly connected to the critical legacies of the historical avant-garde and stubbornly ignored in canonical readings of literary Modernism’. Indeed, the concept of performance still presents significant challenges to the theorisation and periodization of modernism as we know it. Yet, this provides a fertile opportunity to critically reflect upon the ways in which artists responded to / conceived of / theorised modernity in the performing arts, so as to revise / refine our theoretical understanding of twentieth-century culture and politics. The debate concerning how these responses to modernity in the performing arts of the early to mid-twentieth century accord with or trouble our understanding of the relations between modernism and the avant-garde is thus a question that still warrants critical scrutiny.

Continue reading “Modernist and Avant-Garde Performance: Call for Papers”

James Joyce and the Modernist Mouth

28 February 2022

Annie Williams, Trinity College Dublin

Modernism was an experiment in what the mouth could do. Modernist literature, in particular, was invested in the creative potentialities of food, sex, and language. These experiments were accompanied, and indeed prompted, by pioneering scientific advancements in genetics and salivary diagnostics. This is a productive lens through which to read James Joyce’s perennial protagonist, Stephen Dedalus. Stephen is rarely very good with his mouth. In both A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Ulysses (1922), he flaunts a sporadic reluctance to speak, spit, or kiss. This can be attributed to his hydrophobia, and subsequent unease with bathing and bodily fluids, and his crises of selfhood, as he attempts to ‘fly by those nets’ of nationality, language, and religion.[1] It can also, however, be rooted in these scientific developments: developments that inform the pervasive link between saliva and Catholicism in Joyce’s oeuvre. In this sense, we can establish a link between Stephen’s crises of self-expression and his pathophysiological problems with saliva. Continue reading “James Joyce and the Modernist Mouth”

Ecstatic Twilight and the Night-Day Polarity in D. H. Lawrence’s Twilight in Italy (1916)

28 February 2022

Dominic Berry, University of Sheffield

D. H. Lawrence’s early collection of travel essays Twilight in Italy (1916) is a wide-ranging text in its scope of subjects; however, this article will focus primarily on the collection’s sustained investigation of the concepts of opposition or polarity. Specifically, it will explore the significance of the night-day polarity over the many others which Lawrence evokes in the collection.

Continue reading “Ecstatic Twilight and the Night-Day Polarity in D. H. Lawrence’s Twilight in Italy (1916)”

Wassily Kandinsky’s Woodcuts: Early Representations of Non-Objective Imagery

28 February 2022

Anne Regina Grasselli, University of Edinburgh

Figure 1
Figure 1. Wassily Kandinsky, Schwarze Linien, 1913, oil on canvas, 130.5 x 131.1 cm, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. © 2018 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/ADAGP, Paris.

For artist-theorist Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), experimentation with line, form, and colour were critical in establishing a new, fully non-objective artistic style. The paintings he produced during the first decades of his career, for example, from 1896 until 1921, are generally characterised by their unrestrained expressions of bold, saturated colours (fig. 1), whereas those from his years at the Bauhaus, from 1922 through 1933, are typically geometric abstractions in which he focussed on combinations of lines, shapes, and colours (fig. 2). However, Kandinsky’s sensitivity to geometric form during his early artistic years is oftentimes overlooked, even though many of the works he produced during this time contain important hints of non-objective imagery that can be regarded as precursors to his later abstractions. A brief examination of three woodcuts from 1903, 1907, and 1912 shows how Kandinsky’s use of unmodulated shapes and spatial ambiguity indicates an early propensity towards non-objective renderings. Furthermore, these case studies demonstrate his heightened awareness of contemporary studies on the psychology of visual perception and a strong penchant for optical balance and repetition, which predated those facets of his later, more geometric works. Continue reading “Wassily Kandinsky’s Woodcuts: Early Representations of Non-Objective Imagery”

The Modernist Review #37

31 January 2022

Happy New Year! And welcome to a very exciting year for modernism. 2022 marks the centenary of what has been termed the ‘height of modernism’. 1922 was a momentous year for publishing with T. S. Eliot’s ‘The Waste Land’, James Joyce’s Ulysses, Katherine Mansfield’s ‘The Garden Party’ and Virginia Woolf’s Jacob’s Room all released into the world; it was also the year that the BBC was founded, Tutankhamen’s tomb was discovered and Alfred Hitchcock directed his first feature film. As such, here at The Modernist Review, we will keep you updated on all the special events and celebrations which are being planned for this year.  Continue reading “The Modernist Review #37”

Rural Walking and the Sick Flaneur in D. H. Lawrence’s Twilight in Italy (1916)

31 January 2022

Nicola Dimitriou, University of Sheffield

D. H. Lawrence’s work around nature and, more specifically, on the Alps in Twilight in Italy(1916), has been considered as a means of escapism by Stefania Michelucci, among others. Michelucci has argued that it was Lawrence’s ‘wish to escape from the wasteland of mechanisation and industrialization’.[1] A number of representative examples in Twilight in Italy demonstrate how Lawrence uses his walking in the Italian Alps as a sick, tuberculosis-suffering flâneur to express a political stance; namely, to condemn the society that he thought of as culpable for his disease.

Continue reading “Rural Walking and the Sick Flaneur in D. H. Lawrence’s Twilight in Italy (1916)”

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