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What Ever Happened to Modernism? Hardcover – September 28, 2010
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Offering the reader a steady, very serious array of texts and art that refuses easy answers can be bracing, or sobering. Josipovici prefers the former mood, but understands the latter. He argues that the consolations of today's middlebrow novels and ready-made sob stories from this oppressed constituency or that geopolitical hotspot do not make for lasting literature. His last chapter will gain the most attention, for such utterances. The reactions should prove telling, for defenders and advocates of Josipovici's rather mandarin, but slyly subversive, stance.
This might have benefited from more illustrations. Much art is discussed, but not much of it gains representation. Some readers may find the concision overwhelming. While more straightforward than many monographs from most professors, nevertheless this demands a wide familiarity with the best of the Western canon. However, for a brief book, he avoids jargon and his theory stands by its own clarity against many who will oppose his thesis as they may this canon, for all its own rebelliousness. His survey compresses the type of liberal education once assumed by the arts graduate, but one that in this era appears to be eroding given identity politics as a substitute for the modernist canon.
Josipovici makes his points in rapid, but studied form--so careful attention is necessary to do justice to his arguments.Read more ›
If there is one phrase that lies at the heart of the modernist spirit, that would be Schiller's "the disenchantment of the world." (12) The loss of transcendent authority, and the rise of its replacement, individualism, meant that the artist was called to help us understand the reality that had once seemed self-evident. This calling is not to give us a new understanding of reality, to make us comfortable again, to provide a narrative with a satisfying conclusion. It is, rather, to show the world in its essential strangeness, to help us see just how far we are from comprehending how mutually blind the world and we are to each other.
He starts us with Rabelais and Cervantes. Don Quixote, for instance, invents himself as a knight, invents even his own name. But isn't that the author's job?
Don Quixotes's madness dramatizes for us the hidden madness in every realist novel, the fact that the hero of every such novel is given a name merely in order to persuade us of his reality, and that he has giants created for him to do battle with and Dulcineas for him to fall in love with simply to satisfy the demands of the narrative.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
one of the best books I have read explaining modernist literature!Published 13 months ago by Jonny R. Keen
Except for a few dry and academic sections, I was intrigued and delighted by this book until I got to page 124:
"There is no clearer indication that in the field of... Read more