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‘Seeing is (Not) Knowing’: Blindness, Knowledge and Alternate Sensory Modalities in D.H. Lawrence’s ‘The Blind Man’

4 November 2022

Charlotte Makepeace, University of Leeds

In Fantasia of the Unconscious (1923), D.H. Lawrence displays a mistrust of sight as it ‘is the least sensual of all the senses’.[1] In this piece I will posit that Lawrence, in his short story ‘The Blind Man’ (1922), uses tropes of blindness to undermine concepts of epistemological sight and the metaphor ‘seeing is knowing’ by using alternate sensory modalities. ‘The Blind Man’, first published as a standalone short story in 1920 but published in the 1922 short story collection England, My England, is about Maurice Pervin, a soldier who was blinded in the First World War, and his wife, Isabel, who are visited by Isabel’s friend Bertie, an effeminate litterateur.[2] Continue reading “‘Seeing is (Not) Knowing’: Blindness, Knowledge and Alternate Sensory Modalities in D.H. Lawrence’s ‘The Blind Man’”

The Trouble with Beverley Nichols: Publishing, Value and Popular Writing in 1922

4 November 2022

Benjamin Bruce, University of Reading

In 1922 Chatto and Windus publishers offered Beverley Nichols’ new novel, Self, for sale.[1] Nichols, a recent graduate and a gregarious homosexual, wrote his new book as he put it, “‘purely as an experiment, and with the idea of being “popular’”.[2] This emphasis on appealing to a mass audience was problematic for his publishers whose output was meant to be of a certain quality. The publisher saw itself as representing a higher literary standard than some of its rivals’.[3] Continue reading “The Trouble with Beverley Nichols: Publishing, Value and Popular Writing in 1922”

Modernist Review #42

The ground is rumbling with the footsteps of freshers as the academic year begins anew; the leaves are turning and there’s a new bite in the air. With the sadness at the end of summer comes the anticipation of exciting new ideas, discussions, and academic events awaiting us in the next few months. This issue of The Modernist Review really reflects this seasonal turn; in response to our call for submissions, we received a range of essays that provide a fresh take on the usual TMR fare, including two personal essays, two new book reviews, and a bite-sized re-introduction to a neglected author.

Continue reading “Modernist Review #42”

Book Review: Hope, Form, and Future in the Work of James Joyce

30 September 2022

Anna Dijkstra

David P. Rando, Hope, Form, and Future in the Work of James Joyce (London: Bloomsbury, 2022)

100 years after the first publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses (1922), David P. Rando provides an analysis of Joyce’s oeuvre centring on a theme that has not just for a long time remained mostly neglected in Joyce scholarship, but even stands starkly at odds with its general tendency: the theme of hope. By providing innovative analyses of Joyce’s major works, Rando traces the various paths that hope takes in order to present a future-oriented understanding of Joyce that is grounded in ‘socioeconomic material conditions,’ significantly characterising hope by ‘restlessness’ and ‘dissatisfaction’ (p. 1). As such, Rando complements and recontextualises, rather than fully rejects, analyses focusing on hopelessness and pessimism, proposing a dialectical relationship between a capacity for change, and material conditions, in a way that understands Joyce’s work as one large project aimed at the conceptual development and eventual expression of hope. This angle results in a convincing argument for the relevance of hope both to interpreting Joyce, as well as to understanding the act of reading Joyce itself, conceptualising reading communities’ utopian impulses as responses to those seen within Joyce’s work. Continue reading “Book Review: Hope, Form, and Future in the Work of James Joyce”

Book Review: Making Liberalism New

30 September 2022

Aidan Watson-Morris, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Afflerbach, Ian. Making Liberalism New: American Intellectuals, Modern Literature, and
the Rewriting of a Political Tradition (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2021).

When, and what, was liberalism? The question begets another: Which liberalism? Ian Afflerbach’s (University of North Georgia) study documents a midcentury interchange between modernist writers and liberal intellectuals, asking us to parse the genealogy of a modern—or even modernist—liberalism against its classical and neo- variants. If liberalism often plays the role of Big Other to both the academic Left and hegemonic Right as ‘the organizing political grammar of modernity’ (p. 1), an overlooked characteristic of liberal thought is its ‘self-critical intellectual enterprise’ (p. 17). To study this enterprise in its particularity, Afflerbach provides an intellectual history, bracketing the political institutions which put liberal ideas into practice. Continue reading “Book Review: Making Liberalism New”

Charlotte Mew: Urban Nature Poet

30 September 2022

Elizabeth Black

The importance of nature to literary modernism is finally receiving increased recognition, yet some of the most significant writers in terms of exploring this rich intersection between ecocriticism and modernism remain absent from discussions. Charlotte Mew is one such figure. A strikingly unique and extraordinary writer, Mew’s immense talent was recognised by many of her contemporaries: Virginia Woolf describing her as ‘the greatest living poetess’ whose work was ‘very good and interesting and quite unlike anyone else.’[1] Despite such influential support, Mew shied away from entering London’s literary circles for fear of exposing painful secrets regarding her family’s debt, their history of mental illness and her hidden sexuality. As a result, her valuable insights into the complex relationship between literary modernism and nature remain largely unexamined. This omission matters because by foregrounding the presence of nature in urban spaces, exploring the intense connections between marginalised people and the natural world and recognising the psychological impact of environmental damage, Charlotte Mew challenges conventional definitions of modernism as an anthropocentric movement and offers an alternative perspective on its relationship with the natural world.

Continue reading “Charlotte Mew: Urban Nature Poet”

Tracing Nan Shepherd’s Footsteps: Reading, Literary Travel, and Snakes

30 September 2022

Marthe-Siobhán Hecke, University of Bonn

Scottish Literary Renaissance writer Nan Shepherd (1893-1981) traces her hikes and intimate experiences with the Cairngorm mountains in The Living Mountain (1977). Robert Macfarlane describes this as one of the finest pieces of nature writing from within and about Scotland and highlights its unique perspective since ‘[m]ost works of mountaineering literature have been written by men, and most male mountaineers are focussed on the summit’.[1] The Living Mountain, a ‘character study of the Cairngorms’ is about an area that is very inaccessible and remote for casual hikers or climbers.[2] Shepherd roamed the mountains excessively and her love letter to them portrays their beauty:

Continue reading “Tracing Nan Shepherd’s Footsteps: Reading, Literary Travel, and Snakes”

The thirty-five years late essay: On writing about Virginia Woolf’s The Waves

30 September 2022

Lara Nicholls, The Australian National University

This essay was written on Gadubanud Country in Lorne, Australia in January 2022.  Written as the author tackled a serious bout of procrastination while she was supposed to be writing her PhD thesis, it is about an incomplete first-year English essay on Modernism in 1986. We sabotage our own efforts ceaselessly.

It was The Waves (1931) that ruined me in the end. The year was 1986 and quite unexpectedly I had been offered a place at university to do an arts degree on the strength of solid, yet undeserved grades in English. Yes, I was passionate about literature; the secrets to life that it unlocked and the joy I felt upon reading delectable sentences as they bob and float throughout a narrative. But I did not work hard, I never considered myself university smart and I certainly did not plan to go to one. Instead, I had wanted to go to drama school and join the theatre. Curtly weighing up my options, I decided to take my second life choice, that of being a writer. Three years at university could only help that cause, surely. Continue reading “The thirty-five years late essay: On writing about Virginia Woolf’s The Waves”

The Modernist Review #41: Hopeful Modernisms

5 August 2022

After a short and sweaty hiatus, we’re back with another issue of The Modernist Review. Thanks to our readers and contributors for their (your) patience; we have taken a little time to re-focus our vision for TMR and to relieve some of the editorial pressure. You might hear from us a little less frequently, but we will continue to produce regular issues, to be released now every other month. That being said, we are as keen as ever to publish your work and continue on a platform for emerging ideas, so please continue to submit to us as you would normally. TMR is nothing without its contributors!

Continue reading “The Modernist Review #41: Hopeful Modernisms”

‘The Eye & The Ear’: Phonic Modernism and Central Eastern Europe

5 August 2022
Juliette Bretan, University of Cambridge

By his own admission, Polish avant-garde artist and filmmaker Stefan Themerson was fascinated by ‘the sight-and-sound problem’.[1] The relationship – and, often, mismatch – between the optic and the sonic is everywhere in the works he created alongside his wife, Franciszka, in the twentieth century: their interest in audio-visual technology to improve communication; the musical metaphors used to describe ‘Semantic poetry’; and especially their cinematic projects, which fused visual, auditory and linguistic media.[2] One of their most famous was the 1944/5 film ‘The Eye & the Ear’, a transposition of four songs by composer Karol Szymanowski, to poetry by Julian Tuwim, into four ‘different methods of cinematographic interpretation.’[3] Natural, abstract and geometric figures, solarised and surreal, flare across the screen, bearing various degrees of resemblance to the songs, which are rendered in shrill warble-sound. Curious, that such a plucky experiment with music, image and language was produced just after the couple had worked on a more directly informative propaganda film, ‘Calling Mr Smith’, for the war effort.

Continue reading “‘The Eye & The Ear’: Phonic Modernism and Central Eastern Europe”

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