Modernism and Cultural Conflict, 1880-1922

By Ann L. Ardis | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
The Lost Girl, Tarr, and the “moment”
of modernism

After Modernism is canonized …by the post-war settlements and its accompanying, complicit academic endorsements, there is then the presumption that since Modernism is here in this specific phase or period, there is nothing beyond it. The marginal or rejected artists become classics of organized teaching and of travelling exhibitions in the great galleries of the metropolitan cities. “Modernism” is confined to this highly selective field and denied to everything else in an act of pure ideology.

Raymond Williams, The Politics of Modernism1

[T]he moment of modernism is the moment of its construction as a rigorously exclusionary category of value in the twentieth-century academy, as the canonical form of early twentieth-century literature; a moment in which one particular form of aesthetic practice, a practice committed to particular kinds of formal and linguistic experimentation, was privileged above others; a moment in which a restricted group of texts and authors was removed from the complex social and cultural specificities of history and located in that transcendent ideal order of the literary tradition described (or invented) by Eliot in 'Tradition and the Individual Talent'; a moment in which a particular 'discipline of reading' was established by the 'intellectual hegemony of Eliot, Leavis, Richards, and the New Critics. ' In this latter sense, the moment of modernism is a prolonged one in which a hegemonic view of literary history and value is first produced and then reproduced by a literary academy committed to working constantly over the same relatively small group of texts.

Lyn Pykett, Engendering Fictions: The English Novel in the Twentieth Century2

For various reasons D. H. Lawrence and Wyndham Lewis do not fit the Joyce—Pound—Eliot paradigm of modernism that this study has been recontextualizing historically. Lawrence has never been classified uncontentiously as a modernist either by early twentieth-century or by more recent literary scholars; moreover he himself was determined to

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