We are unable to display your institutional affiliation without JavaScript turned on.
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE
OR

Find using OpenURL

Transits: the Nomadic Geographies of Anglo-American Modernism, ed. by Giovanni Cianci, Caroline Patey, and Sara Sullam (review)

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 48, Number 4, Summer 2011
pp. 778-782 | 10.1353/jjq.2011.0098

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

The place of space in modernism has recently received significant critical attention. Two important reasons behind this trend are the growing interest in the relevance of cultural geography and spatial theory to the reading of literature and the realization of the extent to which modernism’s transformative impact on perceptions of time and space travels across disciplines. Taking their cue from the seminal Geographies of Modernism: Literatures, Cultures, Spaces,1 the editors of Transits: The Nomadic Geographies of Anglo-American Modernism, Giovanni Cianci, Caroline Patey, and Sara Sullam, offer a notable contribution to the field. The epilogue to the collection of essays is exemplary in tracing the journey that this book makes and charting the terrains that future work in the area must explore. Supplementing the editors’ introduction that curiously leaves much unsaid about what is specifically meant by “nomadic geographies,” Werner Sollors’s excellent concluding piece, “Nomadic Geographies, or ‘The peoples of the world are rapidly being scrambled!’” offers a brief cultural history of “nomadism” in reverse, from recent “nomadic exhibit[s]” through the European policy of “‘anti-nomadism,’” especially against the Romany populations, to the conceptualization of “a combined post-national and post-ethnic perspective in a world of scrambled peoples” (280, 281, 291) in Edward F. Haskell’s Lance: A Novel About Multicultural Men.2 With just a few exceptions, most of the essays in Transits navigate smoothly across literary, cultural, historical, geographical, and sociopolitical spaces while suggesting an expansive view of modernism both temporally and spatially.

Appropriately, a considerable space is dedicated to travel writings. It is of particular interest that the editors chose to transit into the modernist period, specifically, by starting with essays that approach the two ends of a century of travel preceding the voyages of modernists per se and by focusing on the ideological and imaginative implications of fantasy and agency in the discovery and writing of other spaces. In this context, while Ian Duncan’s prologue essay astutely reads Charles Darwin’s Journal of Researches as “the combination of scientific report and personal memoir into a potent synthesis of Romantic Bildung with the claim to a form of total knowledge predicated on the geopolitical work of circumnavigation” (2), Luisa Villa describes Rudyard Kipling’s “Egypt of the Magicians” as reflective of “both the renewed experience of colonial peripheries, where the impact of exogenous modernization is perceived so dramatically, and the author’s emotional reactions to his ‘return to the East’” (51).3 Between these two essays that travel far, J. B. Bullen’s piece starts the collection’s real critical journey into modernism by way of the return home to Egdon Heath in Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native that Bullen views as “one of the points at which Hardy’s incipient Modernism is most strongly felt, and it is through the geography of the heath that he expresses more abstract sentiments about the modern condition” (24).4 Cianci offers a different perspective, in the title of his essay, on this “[c]risis of [d]omesticity” and on the tension between different spatial scales and configurations by looking at “[o]pen [s]pace versus [c]losed [s]pace” across a wide spectrum of European modernist literature and painting. The connections that Cianci makes are suggestive but are not sufficiently explained so we are left to wonder if more must be said in some instances: while the sections on “Chekhov, Conrad” and “Umberto Boccioni, Marc Chagall” consist of uneven juxtapositions, the more impressive sections on “The Impact of Nietzsche and Futurism” and “Wyndham Lewis, James Joyce” can inspire monograph-length interdisciplinary studies (57–60, 64–65, 60–63, 66–67).

With three essays on his work, aptly enough, Joyce gets the lion’s share in the collection. Besides Cianci’s, two other studies address aspects of the Irish writer’s spatial politics. Laura Pelaschiar tries to deconstruct Caren Kaplan’s “reading of the high modernists’ mystification of exile as aesthetic gain” (124),5 which she also connects to Richard Ellmann’s perspective on Joyce’s exile. Pelaschiar approaches Joyce’s and his characters’ spatial movements both through familiar perspectives (focusing on the figure of the flâneur and using Michel...



You must be logged in through an institution that subscribes to this journal or book to access the full text.

Shibboleth

Shibboleth authentication is only available to registered institutions.

Project MUSE

For subscribing associations only.