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Literary Modernism Series

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The Early Poetry of Robert Graves

The Goddess Beckons

By Frank L. Kersnowski

Like many men of his generation, poet Robert Graves was indelibly marked by his experience of trench warfare in World War I. The horrific battles in which he fought and his guilt over surviving when so many perished left Graves shell-shocked and disoriented, desperately seeking a way to bridge the rupture between his conventional upbringing and the uncertainties of postwar British society. In this study of Graves’s early poetry, Frank Kersnowski explores how his war neurosis opened a door into the unconscious for Graves and led him to reject the essential components of the Western idea of reality—reason and predictability. In particular, Kersnowski traces the emergence in Graves’s early poems of a figure he later called "The White Goddess," a being at once terrifying and glorious, who sustains life and inspires poetry. Drawing on interviews with Graves’s family, as well as unpublished correspondence and drafts of poems, Kersnowski argues that Graves actually experienced the White Goddess as a real being and that his life as a poet was driven by the purpose of celebrating and explaining this deity and her matriarchy.

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Every Intellectual's Big Brother

By John Rodden

George Orwell has been embraced, adopted, and co-opted by everyone from the far left to the neoconservatives. Each succeeding generation of Anglo-American intellectuals has felt compelled to engage the life, work, and cultural afterlife of Orwell, who is considered by many to have been the foremost political writer of the twentieth century. Every Intellectual’s Big Brother explores the ways in which numerous disparate groups, Orwell’s intellectual “siblings,” have adapted their views of Orwell to fit their own agendas and how in doing so they have changed our perceptions of Orwell himself. By examining the politics of literary reception as a dimension of cultural history, John Rodden gives us a better understanding of Orwell’s unique and enduring role in Anglo-American intellectual life. In Part One, Rodden opens the book with a section titled “Their Orwell, Left and Right,” which focuses on Orwell’s reception by several important literary circles of the latter half of the twentieth century. Beginning with Orwell’s own contemporaries, Rodden addresses the ways various intellectual groups of the 1950s responded to Orwell. Rodden then moves on in Part Two to what he calls the “Orwell Confraternity Today,” those contemporary intellectuals who have, in various ways, identified themselves with or reacted against Orwell. The author concludes by examining how Orwell’s status as an object of admiration and detraction has complicated the way in which he has been perceived by readers since his death.

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The Geometry of Modernism

The Vorticist Idiom in Lewis, Pound, H.D., and Yeats

By Miranda B. Hickman

Addressing both the literature and the visual arts of Anglo-American modernism, The Geometry of Modernism recovers a crucial development of modernism's early years that until now has received little sustained critical attention: the distinctive idiom composed of geometric forms and metaphors generated within the early modernist movement of Vorticism, formed in London in 1914. Focusing on the work of Wyndham Lewis, leader of the Vorticist movement, as well as Ezra Pound, H.D., and William Butler Yeats, Hickman examines the complex of motives out of which Lewis initially forged the geometric lexicon of Vorticism—and then how Pound, H.D., and Yeats later responded to it and the values that it encoded, enlisting both the geometric vocabulary and its attendant assumptions and ideals, in transmuted form, in their later modernist work. Placing the genesis and appropriation of the geometric idiom in historical context, Hickman explores how despite its brevity as a movement, Vorticism in fact exerted considerable impact on modernist work of the years between the wars, in that its geometric idiom enabled modernist writers to articulate their responses to both personal and political crises of the 1930s and 1940s. Informed by extensive archival research as well as treatment of several of the least-known texts of the modernist milieu, The Geometry of Modernism clarifies and enriches the legacy of this vital period.

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The Hidden Isaac Bashevis Singer

Edited by Seth L. Wolitz

Nobel Prize–winning author Isaac Bashevis Singer stands virtually alone among prominent writers for being more widely known through translations of his work than through the original texts. Yet readers and critics of the Yiddish originals have long pointed out that the English versions are generally shortened, often shorn of much description and religious matter, and their perspectives and denouements are significantly altered. In short, they turn the Yiddish author into a Jewish-American English writer, detached from of his Eastern European Jewish literary and cultural roots. By contrast, this collection of essays by leading Yiddish scholars seeks to recover the authentic voice and vision of the writer known to his Yiddish readers as Yitskhok Bashevis. The essays are grouped around four themes: • The Yiddish language and the Yiddish cultural experience in Bashevis’s writings • Thematic approaches to the study of Bashevis’s literature • Bashevis’s interface with other times and cultures • Interpretations of Bashevis’s autobiographical writings A special feature of this volume is the inclusion of Joseph Sherman’s new, faithful translation of a chapter from Bashevis’s Yiddish "underworld" novel Yarme and Keyle.

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Joyce and the Two Irelands

By Willard Potts

Uniting Catholic Ireland and Protestant Ireland was a central idea of the "Irish Revival," a literary and cultural manifestation of Irish nationalism that began in the 1890s and continued into the early twentieth century. Yet many of the Revival’s Protestant leaders, including W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, and John Synge, failed to address the profound cultural differences that made uniting the two Irelands so problematic, while Catholic leaders of the Revival, particularly the journalist D. P. Moran, turned the movement into a struggle for greater Catholic power. This book fully explores James Joyce’s complex response to the Irish Revival and his extensive treatment of the relationship between the "two Irelands" in his letters, essays, book reviews, and fiction up to Finnegans Wake. Willard Potts skillfully demonstrates that, despite his pretense of being an aloof onlooker, Joyce was very much a part of the Revival. He shows how deeply Joyce was steeped in his whole Catholic culture and how, regardless of the harsh way he treats the Catholic characters in his works, he almost always portrays them as superior to any Protestants with whom they appear. This research recovers the historical and cultural roots of a writer who is too often studied in isolation from the Irish world that formed him.

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Modernism Is the Literature of Celebrity

By Jonathan Goldman

The phenomenon of celebrity burst upon the world scene about a century ago, as movies and modern media brought exceptional, larger-than-life personalities before the masses. During the same era, modernist authors were creating works that defined high culture in our society and set aesthetics apart from the middle- and low-brow culture in which celebrity supposedly resides. To challenge this ingrained dichotomy between modernism and celebrity, Jonathan Goldman offers a provocative new reading of early twentieth-century culture and the formal experiments that constitute modernist literature’s unmistakable legacy. He argues that the literary innovations of the modernists are indeed best understood as a participant in the popular phenomenon of celebrity. Presenting a persuasive argument as well as a chronicle of modernism’s and celebrity’s shared history, Modernism Is the Literature of Celebrity begins by unraveling the uncanny syncretism between Oscar Wilde’s writings and his public life. Goldman explains that Wilde, in shaping his instantly identifiable public image, provided a model for both literary and celebrity cultures in the decades that followed. In subsequent chapters, Goldman traces this lineage through two luminaries of the modernist canon, James Joyce and Gertrude Stein, before turning to the cinema of mega-star Charlie Chaplin. He investigates how celebrity and modernism intertwine in the work of two less obvious modernist subjects, Jean Rhys and John Dos Passos. Turning previous criticism on its head, Goldman demonstrates that the authorial self-fashioning particular to modernism and generated by modernist technique helps create celebrity as we now know it.

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Stoppard's Theatre

Finding Order amid Chaos

By John Fleming

With a thirty-year run of award-winning, critically acclaimed, and commercially successful plays, from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1967) to The Invention of Love (1997), Tom Stoppard is arguably the preeminent playwright in Britain today. His popularity also extends to the United States, where his plays have won three Tony awards and his screenplay for Shakespeare in Love won the 1998 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. John Fleming offers the first book-length assessment of Stoppard’s work in nearly a decade. He takes an in-depth look at the three newest plays (Arcadia, Indian Ink, and The Invention of Love) and the recently revised versions of Travesties and Hapgood, as well as at four other major plays (Rosencrantz, Jumpers, Night and Day, and The Real Thing). Drawing on Stoppard’s personal papers at the University of Texas Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRHRC), Fleming also examines Stoppard’s previously unknown play Galileo, as well as numerous unpublished scripts and variant texts of his published plays. Fleming also mines Stoppard’s papers for a fuller, more detailed overview of the evolution of his plays. By considering Stoppard’s personal views (from both his correspondence and interviews) and by examining his career from his earliest scripts and productions through his most recent, this book provides all that is essential for understanding and appreciating one of the most complex and distinctive playwrights of our time.

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The Unexamined Orwell

By John Rodden

Continuing his masterful investigation of the ongoing reception and continual reinvention of George Orwell six decades after his death, Rodden delves into numerous aspects of Orwell’s legacy that have been surprisingly neglected.

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William Faulkner

Self-Presentation and Performance

By James G. Watson

From the beginning, William Faulkner’s art was consciously self-presenting. In writing of all kinds he created and "performed" a complex set of roles based in his life as he both lived and imagined it. In his fiction, he counterpoised those personae against one another to create a written world of controlled chaos, made in his own protean image and reflective of his own multiple sense of self. In this groundbreaking book, James Watson draws on the entire Faulkner canon, including letters and even photographs, to decipher the complicated ways in which Faulkner put himself forth through written performances and displays based in and expressive of his emotional biography. The topics Watson treats include the overtly performative aspects of The Sound and the Fury and related manuscripts and privately written records of Faulkner’s life; the ways in which his complicated marriage and his relationships to male mentors underlie recurring motifs in his fiction such as marriage and fatherhood; his reading of Melville, Hawthorne, and Thoreau, and his working out through them the problematics of authorial sovereignty; his presentation of himself as "Old Moster," the artist-God of his fictional cosmos; and the complex of personal and epistolary relationships that lies behind novels from Soldiers’ Pay to Requiem for a Nun.

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Women, Celebrity, and Literary Culture between the Wars

By Faye Hammill

As mass media burgeoned in the years between the first and second world wars, so did another phenomenon—celebrity. Beginning in Hollywood with the studio-orchestrated transformation of uncredited actors into brand-name stars, celebrity also spread to writers, whose personal appearances and private lives came to fascinate readers as much as their work. Women, Celebrity, and Literary Culture between the Wars profiles seven American, Canadian, and British women writers—Dorothy Parker, Anita Loos, Mae West, L. M. Montgomery, Margaret Kennedy, Stella Gibbons, and E. M. Delafield—who achieved literary celebrity in the 1920s and 1930s and whose work remains popular even today. Faye Hammill investigates how the fame and commercial success of these writers—as well as their gender—affected the literary reception of their work. She explores how women writers sought to fashion their own celebrity images through various kinds of public performance and how the media appropriated these writers for particular cultural discourses. She also reassesses the relationship between celebrity culture and literary culture, demonstrating how the commercial success of these writers caused literary elites to denigrate their writing as “middlebrow,” despite the fact that their work often challenged middle-class ideals of marriage, home, and family and complicated class categories and lines of social discrimination. The first comparative study of North American and British literary celebrity, Women, Celebrity, and Literary Culture between the Wars offers a nuanced appreciation of the middlebrow in relation to modernism and popular culture.

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