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”

The Modernist Review #35: the Transnational

8 November 2021

In the last year and a half, we have all been reminded that transnationality is not synonymous with travel. The way people and ideas extend beyond national boundaries is about far more than getting on a train, a ship, or a plane (take note, those who flew by private jet to COP26). Zoom talks, virtual art exhibitions, blogs and vlogs let us see, hear, and read things from across the globe with more ease than ever.  Continue reading “The Modernist Review #35: the Transnational”

Book Review: Ezra Pound’s Washington Cantos and the Struggle for Light

8 November 2021

Dmitri Akers, Independent Scholar

Alec Marsh, Ezra Pound’s Washington Cantos and the Struggle for Light (London: Bloomsbury, 2021)

Pound’s transnationalism and internationalism have been well-explored in scholarship on the poet and critic; the former succinctly covered by Jahan Ramazani’s A Transnational Poetics (2006) who formulates his ideas of ‘Pound’s eastward-detouring transnationalisms.’[1] Little, however, has been published that contextualises the poet’s reactionary, fascist, and racist nature with the pervasive, global aspect of The Cantos (1915-1962). The Historicising Modernism series published by Bloomsbury might have helped to fill this gap with Alec Marsh’s new book, Ezra Pound’s Washington Cantos and the Struggle for Light (2021). Continue reading “Book Review: Ezra Pound’s Washington Cantos and the Struggle for Light”

T. S. Eliot, the Little Review, and Transnational Print Culture

8 November 2021

Zoe Rucker, University of Oxford

When the Little Review announced it was coming to the end of its fifteen-year lifespan in 1929, T. S. Eliot wrote to its editors expressing his distress and explaining that during the earlier part of his career, ‘The Little Review was the only periodical in America which would accept my work, and indeed the only periodical there in which I cared to appear in’.[1] In characteristically Eliotic fashion, such a comment contains both a compliment to the Little Review and an element of back-handed snobbishness towards other American periodicals. More interesting, perhaps, is Eliot’s use of the word ‘appear’, which, on one hand, simply means ‘to contribute work to’. On another, it implies a consideration for the reciprocal relationship between the self-fashioning and marketing of a public authorial image when an author is published in a periodical, and the shaping of that periodical’s own image and reputation within relevant networks of periodical culture.  Continue reading “T. S. Eliot, the Little Review, and Transnational Print Culture”

Joycean Legacies in Indian Modernism

8 November 2021

Jinan Ashraf, Dublin City University

Few studies record a quantifiable filiation between Joyce and India, and for this reason, Joyce remains a ‘spectral’ presence on the landscape of literary traditions broadly construed in English within Indian Anglophone writing.[1] While several studies have acknowledged the comparative colonial modernisms of James Joyce and Mulk Raj Anand (one of the modern pioneers of Indo-Anglian fiction) the present article looks to demonstrate direct allusions to Joyce’s legacy in shaping Anand’s ideas of fiction in the early twentieth-century.[2] The article also comments on Joyce’s legacy on the forgotten and silenced makers of Indian modernisms: late colonial women writers writing from the fringes as they negotiate and push back against the gendered authorities of the modern novel. Early pioneers of the modern Indian novel in English such as Mulk Raj Anand and Sajjad Zahir visited the West and may have been introduced to James Joyce from networks/mentors during their studies abroad;[3] Anand, for example, records his experiences and interactions with—and varying kinds of confrontations and conflicts within— the Bloomsbury group in a memoir titled Conversations in Bloomsbury (1981). Indian Muslim avant-garde women writers such as Rashid Jahan, on the other hand, would have come into second-hand contact with ideas of fiction being shaped by European modernisms through her friendship with writers who had visited Europe such as Zahir and Ahmed Ali. These writers would constitute a network of progressive Anglophone writing that would draw from the literary techniques of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf in attempting to represent the individual mind and its struggle even as these writers push back against the imperialism of the British Raj and the social hierarchies and caste, class, and gender inequalities in late colonial India. Modernism in Indian literature may be said to follow in the tradition of its European counterpart, attempting to break from the tyranny of the realism and naturalism of the Renaissance era (1857), and striving to achieve an ‘innerness’ [4]in the spiritual quest for form and technique. This was accompanied by a relentless pursuit of the ‘right word’ and the right kind of ‘poetic’ language and vocabulary needed to satiate the increasing needs of expression among artists— needs that were no longer answered by the realist trend in fiction. Where the European counterpart placed attention on the metropolitan city, the emphasis in Modernist India was upon the question of ‘modernity’ in the villages. The rise of humanistic and progressive ideals ‘weaned’ writers off romanticism[5], shifting the focus instead upon figures of outcastes— prostitutes, coolies, untouchables, labourers—which became a new source of novelistic sustenance. A parallel emphasis on what Rimbaud would call ‘the inner reality’ came to be echoed in writers in the Post-Renaissance modern age in Indian literature in English. There was in the Modernist Indian writer in English the same pangs from such questions as ‘What technique or form would now suit the contemporary writer’s motives?’ There was a felt need to depart from the derivative models that Renaissance writers in India had inherited and imitated— models imported, tried and tested from the West— against the backdrop of a wave of nationalist and reform movements. Transformations on the literary scene in India were also underway with Modernist women writers such as Ismat Chugtai, Iqbalunnisa Hossain and Rashid Jahan beginning to subvert patriarchal, imperial, and caste/class based ideological blueprints of women’s subjectivity in Renaissance writing. Continue reading “Joycean Legacies in Indian Modernism”

The Metaphoricity of Spaces and Twentieth Century Modernist Writing in Calcutta: Jibanananda Das and Buddhadeva Bose

8th November 2021

Aisik Maiti, University of Calcutta

Twentieth century modernist writing in Calcutta was textured, layered and nuanced, reflecting the multifaceted dimensions of the modernist movement. Characterised by a stark departure from the rhetorical and ornate poetry which dominated the realm of nineteenth century letters, this body of work featured voices which remained submerged within the solitude of the city. Not only was the experimentation radical, but it also embodied a critique – sociological, discursive and cultural. Prominent writers and poets such as Jatindranath Sengupta, Mohitlal Majumdar, Amiya Chakrabarti, Samar Sen, Sudhindranath Datta, Premedra Mitra and Bishnu Dey were radically experimenting and transforming the discourse of writing. This  article will re-assess how the city and urban consciousness played a crucial role in the formation of the modernist ‘canon’ in Bengali literature, with reference to the works of Jibanananda Das and Buddhadeva Bose.

Continue reading “The Metaphoricity of Spaces and Twentieth Century Modernist Writing in Calcutta: Jibanananda Das and Buddhadeva Bose”

Book Review: Transatlantic Modernism and the US Lecture Tour

8th November 2021

Francesca Mancino, Case Western Reserve University

Robert Volpicelli, Transatlantic Modernism and the US Lecture Tour (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2021)

In his study of the transatlantic lecture circuits of Oscar Wilde, W. B. Yeats, Rabindranath Tagore, Gertrude Stein, and W. H. Auden, Robert Volpicelli explores the difficulty of balancing one’s role as a writer with that of a lecturer. In spite of divergences in personalities and lecture topics, this juxtaposition is attributed to how one adjusts to their wavering sense of ‘personal dislocation’ (2). Volpicelli suggests that this sense of dislocation is particularly personal and spatial, seen in his description of Auden as a ‘poet-turned-projectile’ (2). Aside from the evident physical aspect of transatlantic travel, this ‘projectile’-like movement is applicable to self-dislocation and the transition from writer-to-lecturer. 

Continue reading “Book Review: Transatlantic Modernism and the US Lecture Tour”

Reflections on Teaching Mrs Dalloway in Iraqi Kurdistan: An Interview with Steven Barfield (Part 1)

8 November 2021

Alan Ali Saeed, Sulaimani University, and Steven Barfield, London South Bank University

The following is the first of two parts of an interview between Steven Barfield and Alan Ali Saeed. Steven Barfield was a British academic for most of his career, teaching principally at the University of Westminster, London. More recently he has been an educational consultant and has taught, mentored, and advised throughout the middle east. He is a Visiting Research Fellow at London South Bank University. Alan Ali Saeed, the interviewer, lectures in Modern English Literature at Sulaimani University and Komar University of Science and Technology (KUST), Iraqi Kurdistan. In this part of the interview, the two discuss Steven’s experience of teaching Mrs Dalloway in Alan’s city in Iraqi Kurdistan, and the students’ interactions with the text and with modernism more broadly. Continue reading “Reflections on Teaching Mrs Dalloway in Iraqi Kurdistan: An Interview with Steven Barfield (Part 1)”

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