Gabriel josipovici whatever happened to modernism

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gabriel josipovici whatever happened to modernism

What Ever Happened to Modernism? by Gabriel Josipovici

The quality of today’s literary writing arouses the strongest opinions. For novelist and critic Gabriel Josipovici, the contemporary novel in English is profoundly disappointing—a poor relation of its groundbreaking Modernist forebears. This agile and passionate book asks why.

Modernism, Josipovici suggests, is only superficially a reaction to industrialization or a revolution in diction and form; essentially, it is art coming to consciousness of its own limits and responsibilities. And its origins are to be sought not in 1850 or 1800, but in the early 1500s, with the crisis of society and perception that also led to the rise of Protestantism. With sophistication and persuasiveness, Josipovici charts some of Modernism’s key stages, from Durer, Rabelais, and Cervantes to the present, bringing together a rich array of artists, musicians, and writers both familiar and unexpected—including Beckett, Borges, Friedrich, Cezanne, Stevens, Robbe-Grillet, Beethoven, and Wordsworth. He concludes with a stinging attack on the current literary scene in Britain and America, which raises questions about not only national taste, but contemporary culture itself.

Gabriel Josipovici has spent a lifetime writing, and writing about other writers. What Ever Happened to Modernism? is a strident call to arms, and a tour de force of literary, artistic, and philosophical explication that will stimulate anyone interested in art in the twentieth century and today.
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What Ever Happened to Modernism? by Gabriel Josipovici: review

It's been a long time since a work of academic literary criticism has generated the buzz of newspaper-driven controversy, but Gabriel Josipovici's What Ever Happened to Modernism? Late last month, a piece in the front section of the Guardian offered an extract of some of the harsh words that Josipovici, writer and former professor of comparative literature at Oxford University, has for the present crop of English novelists. The piece, which ran under the title "Feted British authors are limited, arrogant and self-satisfied, says leading academic", quoted extensively from the book, in which Josipovici claims that reading many of the big names of current fiction gives him a "sense of prep-school boys showing off". He writes:. Reading [Julian] Barnes, like reading so many other English writers of his generation, Martin Amis, Ian McEwan, Blake Morrison, or a critic from an older generation who belongs with them, John Carey, leaves me feeling that I and the world have been made smaller and meaner. The irony which at first made one smile, the precision of language, which was at first so satisfying, the cynicism, which at first was used only to puncture pretension, in the end come to seem like a terrible constriction, a fear of opening oneself up to the world. But readers who pick up What Ever Happened to Modernism?

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If you're looking for a solution to the current debate over modernism in Gabriel Josipovici's book, look elsewhere, writes James Purdon.
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For novelist and critic Gabriel Josipovici, the contemporary novel in English is profoundly disappointing—a poor relation of its groundbreaking Modernist forebears. This agile and passionate book asks why. Modernism, Josipovici suggests, is only superficially a reaction to industrialization or a revolution in diction and form; essentially, it is art coming to consciousness of its own limits and responsibilities. And its origins are to be sought not in or , but in the early s, with the crisis of society and perception that also led to the rise of Protestantism. He concludes with a stinging attack on the current literary scene in Britain and America, which raises questions about not only national taste, but contemporary culture itself. Gabriel Josipovici has spent a lifetime writing, and writing about other writers. What Ever Happened to Modernism?

En se concentrant sur What Ever Happened to Modernism? Apart from Milan Kundera, no other living writer has engaged with modern fiction with such depth of learning and lightness of touch. Until then his literary critical works had been collections of essays, even his book on the bible, The Book of God 2 , is a series of discrete essays. Given this back catalogue, which includes the lectures given at UCL and Oxford University, it is predictable that the new book has been characterised by some as an academic treatise rather than an accessible essay in the classic sense. Arguably, this verdict was confirmed by bitter 4 and dishonest 5 reactions, as well as some more respectful if condescending assessments. For Josipovici, Modernism reanimates the doubts and confusions about the authority of art that have been with us since the Enlightenment; doubts and confusion that he shows are present as dynamic forces in the great, paradigmatic works of Western literature and essential to the reasons why they became great. For cultural gatekeepers, accommodating doubt and confusion rather than quelling their disruptive presence is anachronistic, the stuff of romantic legend or, worse, against the spirited positivity of modern culture.

He was held in high regard as a critic; besides, he was a novelist — an author of avant-garde fictions that were striking, at least to me, for their brevity. Meanwhile, a certain kind of compendious novel was on the rise, crowding out genres like poetry. My own interest in the slimness of Josipovici's novels was that I intended to write slim novels myself. Length was an anxiety in a climate in which novels — especially from India — were weighted towards the gigantic. Moreover, bookshop chains grew, but the variety of books in them shrank, reflecting Tony Blair's extension of Thatcher's punitive approach to culture. I don't think I would have been able to publish my first two novels, which were around 30, words long and had little "plot" in the conventional sense, after the mids. Josipovici, one of an increasingly rare breed, the writer-critic, was a casualty of that change, as were the poetry lists of most mainstream publishers; while the Booker Prize, and the novelists who early on quickened Josipovici's curiosity, and then disappointed him — Barnes, Amis, McEwan — benefited from the Blairite revolution.

2 thoughts on “What Ever Happened to Modernism? by Gabriel Josipovici

  1. He is a distinguished novelist, critic and teacher, a polyglot scholar and a research professor at the University of Sussex.

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