By Peter Childs
If you are examining this booklet, then do not thank your professor. There are larger textbooks available in the market, yet at rent it brief. it is okay if you are taking a summer time college glossy literature category. i would not use it in any of my sessions differently - yet i used to be compelled to as a pupil.
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Chapter 3 then analyses the Modernist elements in the texts of familiar writers such as Joyce, Woolf, Mansfield, Lawrence, Yeats, Eliot and Conrad, as well as the work of less commonly studied authors such as Charlotte Mew and Rebecca West. To develop a reasonable grasp of the subject there is of course no substitute for reading the Modernist writers themselves, but, from a critical standpoint the best follow-up to the introduction offered here is to read one of the many edited books of manifestos, extracts and documents that have been published on Modernism, of which I would particularly recommend, for a solid if traditional INTRODUCTION 25 overview of literary and philosophical influences, Ellmann and Feidelson’s massive compendium (1965), and for a more recent valuable but very different assembly of important background material, the anthology by Koloctroni et al.
The elitism ascribed to Modernist writers can again be read in terms of the loss of authority suffered by professional, spiritual and artistic elites, who all become paid labour alongside every other wage-earner. The market economy recognises no privileges or externalities but considers all commodities and competitors equally. In fact, questions of value and vulgarity are at the heart of the bourgeois mentality but seep into the economy only in terms of the vagaries of supply and demand: Van Gogh’s paintings were valueless in the 1890s and priceless in the 1990s.
Against this viewpoint, the dramatist Bertolt Brecht countered that the purpose of art for Marx and Marxists was not to reflect social conditions but to attempt to change them, and this could only be done through the shock tactics of avantgarde Modernist aesthetics. Real social inequalities between rich and poor should not be shown as either fixed or acceptable, as suggested by their naturalised depiction in most realist writing, but as abhorrent, outrageous and unjust. Brecht’s approach in his own plays, which intentionally alienated the audience from the characters and conditions they saw depicted, was in many ways the (formal but not ideological) expression of the American poet Ezra Pound’s dictum that Modernist artists should always ‘make it new’.