The Avant-Garde Tradition in Literature

By Richard Kostelanetz | Go to book overview

Literature

L. Moholy-Nagy

An analysis of expression in different media shows that behind all types of work there is a unifying experience, namely, the consciously absorbed or passively endured reality common to all people living in the same period. Thus literature expressing this reality must be considered an integral part of the student's training, in addition to the visual arts. This is one more step in the process of becoming conscious of the new directions and the new concept of life.


First Steps

In order to experience and participate actively in all the aspects of contemporary literature, the student must be acquainted through records and concerts with (1) the tendencies of contemporary composers such as Stravinsky, Bartok, Schoenberg, Hindemith, Krenek, Milhaud, Copeland, Varèse and others. Their works offer an enlightening analogy to modern literature as well as to contemporary painting. Like cubism and constructivism, the modem polyphonic music with its interwoven, intricate traits, the experiments of the bruitists ("noise-ists" pioneered by the futurist Luigi Russolo, 1913), will lead to an analysis of literary equivalents; to the (2) simultaneists, futurists, as they appear in the work of Guillaume Apollinaire, F. T. Marinetti, Vladimir Mayakovski and from there to the (3) expressionists and proto-surrealists: August Stramm, Lajos Kassak, Franz Kafka, Yvan Goll, Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Jean Cocteau, Blaise Cendrars, Bert Brecht, etc., to the (4) dadaists: Tristan Tzara, Jean Arp, Hugo Ball, Richard Huelsenbeck, Kurt Schwitters, Ribemont-Dessaignes, etc.,

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Reprinted from Vision in Motion ( Paul Theobald, 1947) by permission of Hattula Moholy-Nagy.

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