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Article contents

Metamodernism: Narratives of Continuity and Revolution

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 October 2020

Extract

The task for contemporary literature is to deal with the legacy of modernism.

—Tom McCarthy (2010)

A century separates us from an iconic moment of aesthetic metamorphosis: 1914 witnessed the appearance of James Joyce's Dubliners, Gertrude Stein's Tender Buttons, Mina Loy's “Parturition,” and the vorticist journal Blast. It was the year Dora Marsden and Harriet Shaw Weaver, aided by Ezra Pound, started the literary review the Egoist in London and Condé Nast and Frank Crowninshield launched Vanity Fair in New York. Arnold Schoenberg's atonal symphonic works assaulted classical sonorities; Wassily Kandinsky elevated the purity of geometric form above the functional work of visual representation. Most crucially, 1914 saw the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo and the subsequent outbreak of the First World War. Cutting a bloody, four-year swath across Europe, the war took almost forty million lives and rendered all subsequent formal innovation inseparable from cultural devastation: thus the intricate, ruptured literary architectures of The Waste Land (1922), Ulysses (1922), and To the Lighthouse (1927).

Type
The Changing Profession
Copyright
Copyright © Modern Language Association of America, 2014

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