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Categories: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
The 1990s to the present: feminism, historicism, postcolonialism, ethics There has never been a better time to study Virginia Woolf. Woolf studies, in the 1990s and in the new millennium, has continued to flourish and diversify in all its numerous and proliferating aspects. In this recent period the topics that occupied earlier critics continue in new debates, on her modernism, her philosophy and ethics, her feminism and her aesthetics; and there have also been marked turns in new directions. Woolf and her work have been increasingly examined in the context of empire, drawing on the influential field of postcolonial studies; and, stimulated by the impetus of new historicism and cultural materialism, there have been new attempts to understand Woolf 's writing and persona in the context of the public and private spheres, in the present as well as in her own time. Woolf in the context of war and fascism, and in the contexts of modernity, science and technology, continue to exercise critics. Serious, sustained readings of lesbianism in Woolf 's writing and in her life have marked recent feminist interpretations in Woolf studies. Enormous advances have also been made in the study of Woolf 's literary and cultural influences and allusions. Numerous annotated and scholarly editions of Woolf 's works have been appearing since she briefly came out of copyright in 1991, accompanied by several more scholarly editions of her works in draft and holograph, encouraging further critical scrutiny of her compositional methods. There have been several important reference works on Woolf. Many biographies of Woolf and her circle have also appeared, renewing biographical criticism, along with a number of works concerned with Woolf in geographical context, from landscape and London sites to Woolf 's and her circle's many houses and holiday retreats.

Jane Goldman
It is already the fashion to diminish Eliot by calling him derivative, the mouthpiece of Pound, and so forth; and yet if one wanted to understand the apocalypse of early modernism in its true complexity it would be Eliot, I fancy, who would demand one's closest attention. He was ready to rewrite the history of all that interested him in order to have past and present conform; he was a poet of apocalypse, of the last days and the renovation, the destruction of the earthly city as a chastisement of human presumption, but also of empire. Tradition, a word we especially associate with this modernist, is for him the continuity of imperial deposits; hence the importance in his thought of Virgil and Dante. He saw his age as a long transition through which the elect must live, redeeming the time. He had his demonic host, too; the word 'Jew' remained in lower case through all the editions of the poems until the last of his lifetime, the seventy-fifth birthday edition of 1963. He had a persistent nostalgia for closed, immobile hierarchical societies. If tradition is, as he said in After Strange Gods-though the work was suppressed-'the habitual actions, habits and customs' which represent the kinship 'of the same people living in the same place' it is clear that Jews do not have it, but also that practically nobody now does. It is a fiction, a fiction cousin to a myth which had its effect in more practical politics. In extenuation it might be said that these writers felt, as Sartre felt later, that in a choice between Terror and Slavery one chooses Terror, 'not for its own sake, but because, in this era of flux, it upholds the exigencies proper to the aesthetics of Art.' The fictions of modernist literature were revolutionary, new, though affirming a relation of complementarity with the past. These fictions were, I think it is clear, related to others, which helped to shape the disastrous history of our time. Fictions, notably the fiction of apocalypse, turn easily into myths; people will live by that which was designed only to know by. Lawrence would be the writer to discuss here, if there were time; apocalypse works in Woman in Love, and perhaps even in Lady Chatterley's Lover, but not n Apocalypse, which is failed myth. It is hard to restore the fictive status of what has become mythical; that, I take it, is what Mr. Saul Bellow is talking about in his assaults on wastelandism, the cant of alienation. In speaking of the great men of early modernism we have to make very subtle distinctions between the work itself, in which the fictions are properly employed, and obiter dicta in which they are not, being either myths or dangerous pragmatic assertions. When the fictions are thus transformed there is not only danger but a leak, as it were, of reality; and what we feel about. all these men at times is perhaps that they retreated inso some paradigm, into a timeless and unreal vacuum from which all reality had been pumped. Joyce, who was a realist, was admired by Eliot because he modernized myth, and attacked by Lewis because he concerned himself with mess, the disorders of common perception. But Ulysses , alone of these great works studies and develops the tension between paradigm and reality, asserts the resistance of fact to fiction, human freedom and unpredictability against plot. Joyce chooses a Day; it is a crisis ironically treated. The day is full of randomness. There are coincidences, meetings that have point, and coincidences which do not. We might ask whether one of the merits of the book is not its lack of mythologizing; compare Joyce on coincidence with the Jungians and their solemn concordmyth, the Principle of Synchronicity. From Joyce you cannot even extract a myth of Negative Concord; he shows us fiction fitting where it touches. And Joyce, who probably knew more about it than any of the others, was not at tracted by the intellectual opportunities or the formal elegance of fascism.

Frank Kermode
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