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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”

Book Review: Modernism and Modernity in British Women’s Magazines

1 June 2021

Jennifer Cameron, University of Hertfordshire

Alice Wood, Modernism and Modernity in British Women’s Magazines (Abingdon: Routledge, 2020)

This book is an original study of the connections between British print culture and the modernist movement during the interwar years. Wood, a senior lecturer in English at De Montfort University, chooses to focus on four British women’s periodicals of the time, namely Vogue, Eve / Eve: The Lady’s Pictorial, Good Housekeeping, and Harper’s Bazaar. With this book, her second monograph, Wood continues her previously published research into interwar women’s magazines and literary culture. Continue reading “Book Review: Modernism and Modernity in British Women’s Magazines”

Living in the Flicker: Eerie England in Eric Ravilious’s November 5th, 1933

1 June 2021

Samuel Love, University of York

One day in 2013, the cultural theorist Mark Fisher went for a walk. He found himself in a landscape which, he said, ‘demanded to be engaged with on its own terms’.[1] Contemplating the Anglo-Saxon burial ground at Sutton Hoo, Fisher was struck by this landscape that ‘constitutes a gap in knowledge’, as ‘the beliefs and rituals […] that constructed the artefacts and buried the ship are only partly understood’.[2] The term Fisher used to describe this sort of place was ‘eerie’, a phenomenon explained by ‘a fascination for the outside, for that which lies beyond standard perception, cognition and experience’.[3] Continue reading “Living in the Flicker: Eerie England in Eric Ravilious’s November 5th, 1933”

The Photograph from the Party: Amanda Lee Koe and Modernism’s Extended Pose

1 June 2021

Kevin Riordan, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore

In 1928, Alfred Eisenstaedt took some photographs at a party in Berlin. In one of them, Anna May Wong, Leni Riefenstahl, and Marlene Dietrich are neatly posed before a gilded mirror. Dietrich, it seems, had spilled a flute of champagne on the front of Wong’s dress; the latter was pleased ‘she’d eschewed ornamentation for the simple black dress […] and pearls worn long’.[i] The splash, Wong figured, would be imperceptible in a photograph taken by this ‘dignified-looking man with a camera (or was it just a man with a dignified-looking camera?)’ (6). Continue reading “The Photograph from the Party: Amanda Lee Koe and Modernism’s Extended Pose”

Party Going in a Pandemic

1 June 2021

Thomas J. Sojka, Boston University

In Henry Green’s Party Going (1939), a fog descends upon London, stopping traffic and trains and leaving travellers bound for home or holidays stranded. A travelling party en route to the south of France seeks refuge in a nearby hotel, while many people are left standing outside, full of uncertainty of what to do next. The novel is one of plans interrupted, of inertia stalled, and of anxieties about the impossibility of mobility. Similarly, the world shuddered to a halt in early 2020 with the onset of a pandemic. But, unlike the fog in the novel, which lifts after four or five hours allowing for normal life to resume and for travellers to continue their journeys, the pandemic that drove us indoors and disrupted our travel has been here for a year and a half. In contrast to other party fiction from the interwar years, where the parties never seem to end—one only needs to think of the oft-quoted litany of parties[1] from Evelyn Waugh’s Vile Bodies (1930)—the party in Party Going seems to never start. The frustration with this sense of being trapped and with the inability to do anything to change our circumstances makes Green’s novel a choice read for our present moment. The end, similarly, gives us some hope for the months ahead—the fog does lift, and everyone, suddenly, is able to resume their daily lives.

Continue reading “Party Going in a Pandemic”

Partying in Style with Doris Langley Moore

1 June 2021

Eleanor Jones

On a midsummer’s evening in 1929, the Bright Young Things hosted ‘[o]ne of London’s most successful parties’.[1] For the uninvited, the illustrated weekly journal Sketch was on hand to document the occasion, labelled the Watteau Party, which took place aboard the Friend Ship docked at Charing Cross Pier. Inspired by the French artist Antoine Watteau’s 1717 painting Pilgrimage to Cythera, the themed evening was executed in a manner typical of the organisers who, by the late 1920s, were renowned for their extravagant style and behaviour. From costumed balls and treasure hunts to elaborately choreographed pranks, Bright Young parties were widely reported on by the contemporary British press. The extended network of aristocrats, artistic personalities, and queer bohemians were complicit in creating a public image defined by artifice and fantasy. Continue reading “Partying in Style with Doris Langley Moore”

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