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Regional Modernisms

Regional Modernisms

Neal Alexander
James Moran
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    Regional Modernisms
    Book Description:

    Where did literary modernism happen? In this book, a range of scholars seek to answer this question, re-evaluating the parameters of modernism in the light of recent developments in literary geography as well as literary history, examining an array of different literary forms including novels, poetry, theatre, and ‘little magazines’. The volume identifies and appraises the local attachments of modernist texts in particular geographical regions and also interrogates the idea of the 'regional' in light of the alienating displacements of transnational modernity. The essays collected here make fresh interventions in the field of modernist studies and acknowledge the legacies of regional modernisms for post-war representations of place and landscape. Individual essays discuss canonical figures (W. B. Yeats, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and D.H. Lawrence) as well as more marginal or lesser-known writers (Dylan Thomas, Hugh MacDiarmid, J. M. Synge, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Alfred Orage, Leo Walmsley, Lynette Roberts, Michael McLaverty, and Basil Bunting) from across Britain and Ireland.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-6931-8
    Subjects: Language & Literature
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Table of Contents

Export Selected Citations
  1. Front Matter (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements (pp. vii-vii)
  4. Notes on Contributors (pp. viii-x)
  5. Introduction: Regional Modernisms (pp. 1-21)
    Neal Alexander and James Moran

    Where did modernism happen? What were its important places and distinctive geographies? These are not new questions and, until relatively recently, might have been thought settled. A powerful and well-rehearsed narrative about modernism defines it as essentially metropolitan and internationalist in character, recalling that the majority of high-modernist writers and artists were exiles or émigrés, and that their texts are conspicuously polyglot, heteronomous, and fashioned from diverse cultural materials. Modernism, according to Malcolm Bradbury, was ‘an art of cities’ and the jolting energies of life in the major European capitals can be read in the fractured, discontinuous forms of modernist...

  6. Chapter 1 ‘that trouble’: Regional Modernism and ‘little magazines’ (pp. 22-43)
    Andrew Thacker

    This chapter starts by posing a simple and seemingly rather foolish question: why are there so few regional examples of modernist ‘little magazines’ in Britain and Ireland? The foolishness of the question might be because we all know that modernism was an international or transnational phenomenon, a matter of metropolitan perceptions and urban innovation. In other words, it happens in Bloomsbury and not Birmingham, since ‘Art is a matter of capitals’, and ‘Provincialism the Enemy’, to quote two slogans of Ezra Pound.¹ Hence, it is not surprising to discover that the vast majority of the ‘little magazines’ that from the...

  7. Chapter 2 The Regional Modernism of D. H. Lawrence and James Joyce (pp. 44-64)
    Andrew Harrison

    Any comparative study of D. H. Lawrence and James Joyce is constrained at the outset to acknowledge the mutual antipathy and implicit sense of rivalry between the two writers. Even before Lawrence borrowed a copy of the ‘wildly expensive’ Shakespeare and Company edition ofUlyssesfrom an acquaintance of his American publisher Thomas Seltzer, in autumn 1922, he suspected Joyce of being ‘a trickster’.¹ On returning it to its owner on 14 November, he apologised for his failure to appreciate the novel’s experimental qualities:

    I am sorry, but I am one of the people who can’t readUlysses.Only bits....

  8. Chapter 3 J. M. Synge, Authenticity, and the Regional (pp. 65-82)
    Patrick Lonergan

    At the end of the second book ofThe Aran Islands,John Millington Synge goes on a train journey from Galway to Dublin. His departure occurs on the eve of a celebration in Dublin of the life of Charles Stewart Parnell, the fallen Irish political leader. Synge’s train is full of excursionists to Dublin, and many of them are in a festive mood. ‘A wild crowd was on the platform, surging round the train in every stage of intoxication’, writes Synge, who describes the scene as evidence of the ‘half-savage temperament of Connaught’.¹ Synge is not altogether disapproving of the...

  9. Chapter 4 Pound, Yeats, and the Regional Repertory Theatres (pp. 83-103)
    James Moran

    Ezra Pound disliked Ireland. He never visited the country, and repeatedly condemned its politics and cultural attitudes. In February 1915 he dismissed the Irish in an article inThe New Ageby declaring: ‘I simply cannot accept the evidence that they have any worthas a nation,or that they have any function in modern civilisation, save perhaps to decline and perish if that can be called a function’.¹ He pointed out that ‘even the politics may, for all one hears to the contrary, be cooked up in England or in Germany or in my own country’.² For Pound, Ireland...

  10. Chapter 5 Capturing the Scale of Fiction at Mid-Century (pp. 104-123)
    David James

    Writing in spring 1947, Storm Jameson – the prolific Yorkshire-born novelist and former president of the English centre of International PEN – used the occasion of an essay on the ‘situation’ of contemporary fiction to glance back two years and reflect on her visit to an indelibly-scarred northern Europe. From an aerial vantage point, Jameson adopts, at least initially and fleetingly, a disinterested and reportorial perspective. Then the standpoint shifts, and with it the diction and gesture of Jameson’s treatment of destruction. Dropping the objective pretence of reportage, she progresses into a more personalised and noticeably elegiac register of remembrance:

    The aeroplane...

  11. Chapter 6 Regionalism and Modernity: The Case of Leo Walmsley (pp. 124-141)
    Dominic Head

    Some notable recent re-evaluations of English modernism have placed stress, not on the cosmopolitan and international aspects of high modernist expression, but on a surprising turn towards England – and ideas of Englishness – in late modernism. This line of argument, in which Jed Esty’s AShrinking Island(2004) is a key landmark, was developed in a more popular format by Alexandra Harris inRomantic Moderns(2010), in a discussion which links literary trends with developments in the visual arts, giving the revisionist dynamic a purchase beyond academic publishing.¹

    In their discussions of literature, Esty and Harris detect a new emphasis on place...

  12. Chapter 7 Hugh MacDiarmid’s Modernisms: Synthetic Scots and the Spectre of Robert Burns (pp. 142-159)
    Drew Milne

    InThe Dialect of Modernism: Race, Language & Twentieth-Century Literature,Michael North suggests a revised sense of the linguistic paradigms in play within American and transatlantic literary modernisms.² Hugh MacDiarmid’s work, and the question of Scots as a dialect or distinct language for modernist Scottish writing, warrants no mention in North’s account, though questions of race do throw up difficult political resonances within Scottish poetics, not least in the romanticised genealogies of race, nation, and identity that MacDiarmid often promoted. Despite North’s subtle intertwinings, the literary articulation of dialect forms is not only a question of race, but also a...

  13. Chapter 8 Welsh Modernist Poetry: Dylan Thomas, David Jones, and Lynette Roberts (pp. 160-183)
    John Goodby and Chris Wigginton

    ‘Welsh modernist poetry’ would seem to be something of a category error. The term has almost no critical currency – unlike, say, Irish or Scottish modernism – and there might seem at first glance to be little need for it. Who would it include? How would it be configured? What would be its distinctive features – its equivalent of MacDiarmid’s‘Caledonian antisyzygy’or Joyce’s forging of ‘the uncreated conscience of my race’? So readily is Welsh writing subsumed in English or British writing that answers to these questions will not occur readily to most students of modernism. In the last ten years, however,...

  14. Chapter 9 Between the Islands: Michael McLaverty, Late Modernism, and the Insular Turn (pp. 184-199)
    John Brannigan

    In June 1939,The Timesreported the disappearance of the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean, when a flying boat called theGuba,which was seeking to establish a route from Britain to Australia that did not involve crossing the Mediterranean, failed to find the islands.¹ The islands were found again the following day, when theGubareported less cloud cover, but the momentary disappearance sparked an editorial and a string of letters in the following days about the peculiar tendencies of islands. ‘Continents at least stay, for practical purposes, where they are’, declared theTimeseditorial, ‘no matter with...

  15. Chapter 10 The Idea of North: Basil Bunting and Regional Modernism (pp. 200-221)
    Neal Alexander

    There is no doubting the importance of ideas of place in Basil Bunting’s poetry, particularly in his major work,Briggflatts(1966), where Northumbria emerges as a luminous and multi-faceted affective terrain. Bunting’s representations of place are also complex and multi-layered, issuing from a geographical imagination that thrives on contradictions. His regional modernism is characterised both by the imaginative centrality of northern landscapes and cultural paradigms to his writing, and by the refraction of such local and regional attachments through a self-consciously international modernist poetics.Briggflattsexplores its themes of dislocation and homecoming through an intense imaginative engagement with the landscapes,...

  16. Select Bibliography (pp. 222-225)
  17. Index (pp. 226-238)