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Modernism, Satire and the Novel

  • Date Published: October 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107008496


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About the Authors
  • In this groundbreaking study, Jonathan Greenberg locates a satiric sensibility at the heart of the modern. By promoting an antisentimental education, modernism denied the authority of emotion to guarantee moral and literary value. Instead, it fostered sophisticated, detached and apparently cruel attitudes toward pain and suffering. This sensibility challenged the novel's humanistic tradition, set ethics and aesthetics into conflict and fundamentally altered the ways that we know and feel. Through lively and original readings of works by Evelyn Waugh, Stella Gibbons, Nathanael West, Djuna Barnes, Samuel Beckett and others, this book analyzes a body of literature – late modernist satire – that can appear by turns aloof, sadistic, hilarious, ironic and poignant, but which continually questions inherited modes of feeling. By recognizing the centrality of satire to modernist aesthetics, Greenberg offers not only a new chapter in the history of satire but a persuasive new idea of what made modernism modern.

    • Will appeal to students of satire seeking to understand its role within modernism
    • Opens new discussion about what constitutes modernism
    • Offers original interpretations of works by key modernist novelists including Waugh, Gibbons, West, Barnes and Beckett
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "This volume's greatest strength--and there are several from which to choose--is the clarity with which Greenberg articulates his central contention about the role that satire plays within the modernist literary tradition. Arguing that satire and modernism are 'very nearly the same thing' in regard to their resistance to sentimentalism, the author constructs a compelling case that late modern satirists undermined the moral verities reinforced by hackneyed literary appeals to emotion. Instead, they sought to reengage their readers' primal feelings, even potentially subversive ones. . . Highly recommended."

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    Product details

    • Date Published: October 2011
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107008496
    • length: 240 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.49kg
    • contains: 1 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Preface: the Uncle Fester principle
    1. Satire and its discontents
    2. Modernism's story of feeling
    3. The rule of outrage: Evelyn Waugh's Vile Bodies
    4. Laughter and fear in A Handful of Dust
    5. Cold Comfort Farm and mental life
    6. Nathanael West and the mystery of feeling
    7. Nightwood and the ends of satire
    8. Beckett's authoritarian personalities.

  • Author

    Jonathan Greenberg, Montclair State University, New Jersey
    Jonathan Greenberg is Associate Professor of English at Montclair State University. He has published essays on numerous twentieth-century writers including Chinua Achebe, Salman Rushdie, Evelyn Waugh, Nathanael West and Ian McEwan. A comedic writer himself, he has also won an Emmy Award for his writing for children's television.

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