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ELT 48 : 3 2005 own intriguing exploration of modern labor and selfhood calls for such a conclusion as well as further development of this fruitful line of inquiry. LISA HAGER University of Florida Modernism & the Market Society John Xiros Cooper. Modernism and the Culture of Market Society. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004. χ + 289 pp. $75.00 JOHN XIROS COOPER claims that the modernists of 1920s1930s were "the first cells of a new kind of social organization" that would spread the "nihilism" of market culture by century's end. Arguing against Andreas Huyssens's theory of the Great Divide between the avant-garde and mass-market society, Cooper holds responsible various bohemian literary communities like Bloomsbury and Greenwich Village for eroding "inherited values." Cooper's argument is provocative. There is a trace of moral terrorism in his choice of the word "cell" to describe the continuing presence and effect of modernist communities on contemporary life styles and values. The "cell" metaphor then develops as he describes modernists as "unwitting and possibly even blind social commandos and shock troops in the making of capitalist society and cultures" (21). Cooper attempts to reveal that the avant-garde has a more complex relation to capitalist culture than previously acknowledged. Though nodding toward the generally accepted view that modernist literary communities were created in "resistance" to mass market values, he nevertheless develops a counter-narrative to show how modernism collaborated and has become the subject of historical irony. He asserts that modernism though resistant to materialist and commercial values at the beginning of the century has now become the contemporary cultural style of the market culture it opposed. He holds modernists "unwittingly " responsible for various kinds of weakened moral authority of parents, priests and political leaders. And he adopts Lawrence M. Friedman 's argument in The Horizontal Society, that "modern men and women are much freer to form relationships [and thus] are on a plane of equality (real or apparent) . . . with like-minded people" (167) rather than on the traditional, vertical forms of kinship and authority. Despite Cooper's argument, common sense suggests that there is no direct line from the literary and cultural movement of modernism to the persistence of capitalist values and epistemology, moral relativity, new 356 BOOK REVIEWS gender roles, sexual permissiveness, and social fragmentation in the twentieth century. Cooper himself acknowledges such when he suggests that it is not "ideas" that drive history. Marx's Capital, he states, did not lead directly to the Soviet gulag or Nietzsche's The Gay Science to Treblinka. Despite this early disavowal, he persists in his rather bizarre argument that modernism is the "cultural spearhead of capitalism" and the materialist values and lifestyles it spawns. We are informed that modernism's innovative techniques and formal experiments as well as lifestyles advocated in various bohemias have unwittingly infected our society with "possessive" and acquisitive market values. One experiences then two arguments in reading this book: an overt argument that modernization (or modernism, according to Cooper's epistemology) was a welcome strategy for "liberating consciousness" from cultural restrictions and superstitions and, at the same time, an ethical undertow, that such avant-garde communities challenged the forces of tradition and spread negative capitalist values and life styles. Cooper asserts that it is the capitalist economy that "encouraged the invention and privatization of inwardness" (49). This turning "inward" away from the amelioration of the social reality was considered "decadent " by the Marxist critics, Lukacs and Bakhtin, long before Cooper. This capitalist thrust is then what ostensibly led to the modernist experiment with "interiority" that we observe in Joyce, Woolf, Proust and Richardson. There is no mention that other historical and cultural forces—World War I, shifting gender roles, or the interest in the dark places of psychology and the unconscious evident in Freud and other writers—contributed to the development of "inwardness." Underlying all this then is an a-historical diatribe against capitalism. Cooper states: "No matter what the received wisdom tells us, historical events like the French insurrection of 1848 (the June days), the Paris Commune, the Russian Revolution, the Chinese Revolution, and most other myriad social and political events of our century which drape themselves in revolutionary...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 356-359
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
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