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The old moderns : essays on literature and theory

Author: Denis Donoghue
Publisher: New York : A.A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1994.
Edition/Format:   Print book : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary:
Denis Donoghue does not go in search of a fight. He is, among critics, notable for his tact and genial temperament. But by setting aside his own bearing in favor of the bearing of his object, he produces an artifact that rebukes certain competing reports. And thus it is with his consideration of Modernism in the present selection of essays, wherein he makes quick work of the conventional claim that in Modernism an  Read more...
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Genre/Form: Aufsatzsammlung
Criticism, interpretation, etc
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Denis Donoghue
ISBN: 0394589343 9780394589343
OCLC Number: 1030088333
Description: xiv, 303 p. ; 25 cm.
Contents: The Man of the Crowd --
Beyond Culture --
Ariel and His Poems --
The Use and Abuse of Theory --
The Political Turn in Criticism --
The Sublime Blackmur --
Translation in Theory and in a Certain Practice --
On The Golden Bowl --
William Wetmore Story and His Friends: The Enclosing Fact of Rome --
The Modern Yeats --
On a Late Poem by Yeats --
T. S. Eliot: The Communication of the Dead --
On "Burnt Norton" --
On The Idea of a Christian Society --
Is There a Case Against Ulysses? --
Notes on a Poem by Stevens --
Is There a Perennial Literature?
Responsibility: Denis Donoghue.

Abstract:

Denis Donoghue does not go in search of a fight. He is, among critics, notable for his tact and genial temperament. But by setting aside his own bearing in favor of the bearing of his object, he produces an artifact that rebukes certain competing reports. And thus it is with his consideration of Modernism in the present selection of essays, wherein he makes quick work of the conventional claim that in Modernism an event, or a cause whose consequences can be enumerated, is in evidence. Instead, Donoghue declares Modernism "a stance, an attitude, a choice," further asserting that "it is not necessary to be modern." Nor is it necessary for a critic to be dogmatic or to make theoretical hauteur his game. It is in his rejection of the allure of dogmatism that Donoghue discovers the difficulty of the task before him; for to make any headway, he must take "one meaning of Modernism and ... put up with the embarrassment of knowing that a different account of it would be just as feasible." But in testing his "one meaning" against writers as various as Wordsworth, Poe, James, Yeats, Joyce, Kafka, Eliot, and Stevens, and against an array of philosophers, theorists, and critics (Blackmur, Benjamin, Trilling, Foucault, Jameson, Levinas, and de Man, to cite certain of these), Donoghue makes himself hospitable to an inventory of modern postures as diverse as the personalities who adopted them, or were adopted by them. The result is a meditation on the self's experience of itself for better or for worse, as the animating force of the Modernist enterprise. Mainly for the better, according to Donoghue, who finds in the mind's self-attentive questionings and strivings an imaginative space of resistance and resonance that is commonly lacking in the beguiling mendacities of modern city life. For all his distrust of the potential will to power of "supreme fictions," Donoghue sides with the rebellious angels - but with misgiving. Tender toward "the refusing imagination," he knows that it is susceptible to vanity. What bothers Donoghue is whatever seeks to appropriate a work of literature, bending it to the critic's will, making it serve a political or otherwise ideological cause. What delights Donoghue is the experience of being among words, the ravishments of sense, the inventions of a capacious imagination. The Old Moderns is a book of such pleasures.

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