The Modernist Review #30: Modernist Festivities

1 June 2021

If the last year has taught me anything, it’s that festivity is a central way in which we sustain our social relations. In the COVID-19 pandemic, parties have gained new levels of attention in the public sphere, with sociability being policed and politicised. We have seen both the positive and negative effects of this: socially distanced or online parties become warm and fuzzy news items, while superspreader events become sources for opprobrium and outrage. Continue reading “The Modernist Review #30: Modernist Festivities”

Freud in the Soup: Implications of Hysteria in Katherine Mansfield’s ‘Bliss’

01 June 2021

Sasha Clarke, Birkbeck College, University of London

When considering the development of the modernist form, Freudianism represents perhaps the most significant trajectory toward modernity. While Freud’s work is predominantly characterised by scientific rationality, similar sentiments were embraced by the great modern poets, most notably, T. S. Eliot, whose reference to the ‘dissociation of sensibility’ characterised the potential to separate thought from feeling.[1] As Freud found prominence in the late nineteenth century, largely as a result of his Studies on Hysteria published in 1895, it was the subject of these psychoanalyses, Bertha Pappenheim, who inspired the tropes most widely recognised as authentically modernist: self-fragmentation, irrationality, subjectivity, and the formative role of sexuality in developing one’s persona.

Continue reading “Freud in the Soup: Implications of Hysteria in Katherine Mansfield’s ‘Bliss’”

Death Comes to the Party: Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway

01 June 2021

Charlotte Hallahan, University of East Anglia

In 1925, Woolf heard news of her friend Jacques Raverat’s death at a party. Afterwards, in her diary, she wrote: ‘I do not any longer feel inclined to doff the cap to death. I like to go out of the room talking, with an unfinished casual sentence on my lips’.[1] In Mrs Dalloway (1925), the solemn news of Septimus Warren Smith’s death interrupts Clarissa Dalloway’s party. But Clarissa sees Septimus’ death as a license to live, to return to her party (to, perhaps, ‘go out of the room talking’). In Woolf’s party, we see the curious meeting of life and death, where death holds the ability to give life order and meaning.

Continue reading “Death Comes to the Party: Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway”

Pubs, Clubs, and Hell: Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock

01 June 2021

Lucas Townsend, University of Roehampton

George Orwell lambasted Graham Greene’s corpus in a review of The Heart of the Matter (1948), stating that all Greene’s Catholic characters treat ‘hell [as] a sort of high-class nightclub’.[1] However, the comparison is apt for noir masterpiece Brighton Rock (1938), in which Greene depicts impoverished teenager Pinkie Brown—a choir boy-turned-gangster—as inordinately uncomfortable in the many spaces of festivity Brighton offers. Pinkie’s selective morality leads him to staunchly refuse offers of cigarettes, alcohol, and sex, and to instead derive pleasure from causing pain and his certitude of his own eternal damnation. The many scenes in the pubs, bars, nightclubs, and roadhouses of the seaside resort are constructed using a spectral amalgamation of spiritual vice and secular militarism—two concepts one would rarely associate with these places—and are symbolic of Greene’s skeptical argument against traditional values in a modern world.

Continue reading “Pubs, Clubs, and Hell: Graham Greene’s Brighton Rock”

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