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Proust, Mann, Joyce in the Modernist Context…

Proust, Mann, Joyce in the Modernist Context

by Gerald Gillespie

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0813213509, Hardcover)

This book centers on three writers whose prose fictions became exemplary of the modernist drive to reconstitute a vision of life with universal reach. Proust, Mann, and Joyce each attained a particular kind of encyclopedic range, and in distinct but related ways their work encompassed much of the spiritual history of Modernism. Here, Gerald Gillespie argues that works such as In Search of Lost Time, The Magic Mountain, and Ulysses not only internalized the full range of modernist experiences and anxieties but transcended them to achieve a holistic vision.

Gillespie contends that modernism included more than expressions of discontinuity, dissociation, fragmentation, arbitrary assemblage, and the like. By restoring context to this study, he confronts misunderstandings of what Proust, Mann, and Joyce achieved. Chapters treating their themes and traits are bracketed by chapters establishing the cultural continuum in which they worked and, in turn, became themselves exemplary. Other chapters suggest the rich cross-cultural referentiality and interest in other arts that characterize their novels. Proust provides in his narrator one who experiences modernism as it unfolds. The constant discoursing through meditations on the arts, society, technology, political life, the passions, the conditions of life, and much more has its analogue in the way Mann and Joyce, each in his fashion, employ the tradition of the humoristic-encyclopedic novel to create an epic picture of the human situation in their age.

Contrary to postmodernist allegations of a modernist evasion of history, Gillespie finds that Proust, Mann, and Joyce mobilize an impressive repertory of anthropological and cultural knowledge for coping with the world’s complexity. His most controversial claim is that they attained thereby a sacramental sense that imbues each of their epics of modernity with its lasting power for readers today.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:30 -0400)

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