The Modern Movement: 1910-1940

The Modern Movement: 1910-1940

The Modern Movement: 1910-1940

The Modern Movement: 1910-1940


The Oxford English Literary History is the new century's definitive account of a rich and diverse literary heritage that stretches back for a millennium and more.

Each of these groundbreaking volumes offers a leading scholar's considered assessment of the authors, works, cultural traditions, events, and the ideas that shaped the literary voices of their age. The series will enlighten and inspire not only everyone studying, teaching, and researching in English Literature, but all serious readers.

This exciting new volume provides a freshly inclusive account of literature in England in the period before, during, and after the First World War. Chris Baldick places the modernist achievements of Virginia Woolf, T. S. Eliot, and James Joyce within the rich context of non-modernist writings across all major genres, allowing "high" literary art to be read against the background of "low" entertainment. Looking well beyond the modernist vanguard, Baldick highlights the survival and renewal of realist traditions in these decades of post-Victorian disillusionment. Ranging widely across psychological novels, war poems, detective stories, satires, and children's books,The Modern Movementprovides a unique survey of the literature of this turbulent time.


We may begin with Ursula Brangwen, the restless heroine of D. H. Lawrence's Women in Love (1920). She has thrown up her job as a schoolteacher and, without her parents' blessing, hurriedly married Rupert Birkin, with whom she has begun a new life of uncharted wandering on an Alpine holiday at a hotel near Innsbruck. Passing a cowshed among the mountains, she is reminded uncomfortably of the farm on which she grew up in the English Midlands.

She wished it could be gone for ever, like a lantern-slide which was broken.
She wanted to have no past. She wanted to have come down from the
slopes of heaven to this place, with Birkin, not to have toiled out of the
murk of her childhood and her upbringing, slowly, all soiled. She felt that
memory was a dirty trick played upon her. What was this decree, that she
should 'remember'! Why not a bath of pure oblivion, a new birth, without
any recollections or blemish of a past life. She was with Birkin, she had just
come into life, here in the high snow, against the stars. What had she to do
with parents and antecedents? She knew herself new and unbegotten, she
had no father, no mother, no anterior connections, she was herself, pure
and silvery (ch. 29)

In this baptismal invocation of a new self bathed clean of all murky histories, we hear the distinctively modern voice declaring itself selfbegotten from willed obliviousness to its origins, uncompromisingly . . .

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