Literature and Theatre

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Isaiah Berlin writes in Four Essays on Liberty that ‘historians of ideas cannot avoid perceiving their material in terms of some kind of pattern’. Where modernism is credited with a pattern, and it usually is, it is more than likely that the concept of fragmentation is prominent in it. This book puts novelist, poet, editor and critic Ford Madox Ford in context, placing him in the context of literary modernism, in which, as editor of the English Review, author of The Good Soldier and transformer of Ezra Pound's verse, he performed a vital part. Indeed, in his magisterial biography of Ford, Max Saunders writes that ‘the period of literary modernism is “the Ford era” as much as it is Pound's, or T. S. Eliot's, or James Joyce's’; Ford was ‘at the centre of the three most innovative groups of writers this century’. In addition, the language of decline, collapse and fragmentation is commonly applied by historical analysts to events and developments of the early twentieth century.

in Fragmenting modernism
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The Great War of 1914–1918 was the first ‘modern’ war, involving more spheres of human experience than perhaps any previous conflict. Whole populations were caught up in it and exhibited myriad shades of reaction to it – including, naturally, opposition. This book concentrates on those individualistic British citizens whose motivation for opposition in thought or deed was grounded upon moral, humanistic or aesthetic precepts. In his Pacifism in Britain 1914–1945: The Defining of a Faith, the historian Martin Ceadel singles out what he terms ‘humanitarian pacifism’ as a valid form of anti-war feeling, stating that it is ‘no less a dogma’ than religious or political pacifism. The years of the Great War were the formative ones that helped to mould the Bloomsbury Group into the image which would be recast by the public imagination in succeeding generations. This book explores both the past itself and the personalities of bohemian Bloomsbury, from Bertrand Russell and Ottoline Morrell to Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, Paul Nash, Ivor Gurney, Mabel St Clair Stobart, Virginia Woolf and Lytton Strachey.

in A war of individuals
Crossing the (English) language barrier

Ireland and Scotland are marginalised and minoritised, but the experience of Marilyn Reizbaum has provoked different reactions from writers in the two countries. There are very good historical reasons for Scotland and Ireland being averse to one another, to do with Empire and Union. This chapter explores the missing middle of the vernacular in Irish writing, drawing on Edna Longley's perceptive to remark about Tom Paulin's poetic project and the vexed issue of Ulster-Scots. It is ironic that at a time when Edwin Muir was arguing for a Yeatsian model of national literature for Scotland, Irish writers were pursuing a more local/regional line, but with one difference from Scottish writers. Irish writers appear to have adhered more to Muir's insistence on English as the proper language of literary renaissance and resistance than to the opposing view of Hugh MacDiarmid, who championed the vernacular.

in Across the margins
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Mother–daughter relations in Paule Constant’s fiction

This chapter places Confidence pour confidence within Paule Constant's œuvre as a whole and argues for a more positive reading of the novel. The reading throws light on the trajectory of mother-daughter relations in her fiction. Her novels had been shortlisted for the Goncourt several times before, and she had gained many other literary prizes. The chapter focuses on the specific connections between Confidence pour confidence and four of the earlier novels, Ouregano, Propriété privée, Balta and La Fille du Gobernator, making links between three female characters. They are Tiffany, a 7-year old in Ouregano, growing up to her teenage years in Propriété privée and an adult in Balta, Chrétienne, the little-girl character of La Fille du Gobernator and Aurore, a French writer and one of the four principal women characters of Confidence pour confidence.

in Women’s writing in contemporary France
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Trauma, dream and narrative

The novels of Louise L. Lambrichs are brilliant but troubling psychological dramas focusing on the traumas that inhabit the family romance: incest, sterility, the death of those we love and the terrible legacy of mourning. Louise Lambrichs's œuvre comprises five novels but also a number of factual or biographical works on medical issues such as cancer, dyslexia and sterility. These concerns are reflected in her novels which often deal with the pain of having, losing and desiring children. This chapter focuses on two novels, Journal d'Hannah and A ton image. Journal d'Hannah concerns a woman forced to abort a much-wanted second child and subsequently rendered sterile, while A ton image deals with the issues of cloning and incest. However, the fascination of Lambrichs's novels lies less with the medical issues than in the psychological perspective she adopts.

in Women’s writing in contemporary France

Susan Bruce argues that in Francis Bacon's utopia of Bensalem, St Thomas More's male gaze of desire is replaced by a scientific elaboration of the value of male potency and procreation as a kind of state enterprise. In the New Atlantis, the voyage allows Bacon to incorporate his scientific ideal within the society of Bensalem. The plain style of the travel narrative accorded well with Bacon's own ideal prose. As a travel narrative, the New Atlantis is full of allusions to the significance of colonial endeavours by England and its competing European powers in the quest for possession, as well as knowledge. Pedro Fernandez de Quiros' Terra Australis Incognita is his account of a Portuguese voyage which reached Vanuatu, but Quiros was convinced that he had reached the Great South Land and campaigned constantly for a colonising expedition.

in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis
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This chapter explores the relationship between fragmentation, repression and writing, focusing on some of the less-obvious contributing factors for Ford Madox Ford's first volume of autobiography, Ancient Lights. It describes Sigmund Freud as ‘at least emblematic’ of modernism, and pursues the idea of a relationship between psychoanalysis and modernist literary subject matter and techniques. The attempt to recognise gaps between parts of the self is powerfully resonant in the early modernist era: ‘For both Henry James and Fyodor Dostoevsky, reality lay in human consciousness and the fathomless workings of the mind’. We know from James's ‘Chamber of Consciousness’, in which suspends the spider-web of experience ‘catching every air-borne particle’, that consciousness alone manifests multiple and distinct strands. Psychoanalysis emerged as simply ‘a psychology that emphasised the unconscious mind’, rather than its conscious counterpart. Freud writes on the experience of the closeness of death in war as a unification of the civilised man with the primitive urge to kill – now he can, and with impunity.

in Fragmenting modernism

J. Peter Zetterberg emphasises the ways in which Francis Bacon's New Atlantis picks up on a large literature and a substantial body of practice about ways of making art imitate nature. Scholars in the past have been a little quick to see Bacon as a 'modern scientist', and indeed even to see the New Atlantis as a key text in 'the emergence of modern scientific practices from within late Renaissance culture'. Bacon was well acquainted with late Renaissance works on natural magic, and in particular with one of the most important of these, the Natural Magic of the Neapolitan magus Giovan Battista della Porta. The area of medicine that Bacon develops most thoroughly in the New Atlantis is the realm of hygiene. The New Atlantans are superior to their European visitors in terms of material wealth, medicine, technology, and learning generally; they are also chaster and religiously much more peaceable.

in Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis
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D. H. Lawrence's essay ‘Why the Novel Matters’ focuses on issues of communication and plurality as displayed by the effective novel. The relationship between Lawrence and Ford Madox Ford was sometimes close, and at times was difficult. It began when Ford first published Lawrence in the English Review and ‘introduced him to literary London’. What is communicated in Ford's novels, and how? This chapter examines the resultant dramatic thrust of the contemporary Fifth Queen trilogy, the eye for colour, for detail, for patterns. The psycho-political geography of Ford's writing is thus confirmed in its period of relative certainty, especially when compared with the suicides of Edward and Florence in The Good Soldier and the suicide of Christopher Tietjens's father in Parade's End. These later novels are distinguishable from the Fifth Queen trilogy primarily due to their more complex interweaving of levels. As another manifestation of modernist fragmentation, one fomented by psychoanalysis and sexology, the four main characters are read partly as four parts of the same psyche, individually and oppositionally gaining (at times violent) expression.

in Fragmenting modernism

Will the anti-war reactions of further obscurer individuals still be linked by the familiar and recurring themes experienced among the more celebrated? A particular expression of personal disquiet with the Great War ‘in its operation’ and involving a contrasted appreciation of nature and landscape was exhibited by Captain Arthur Innes Adams of the Cambridgeshire Regiment, one of the first individuals included in critic Laurence Housman's edited collection of war letters. This chapter examines the personal narratives, diaries and memoirs of various obscure individuals expressing their views about the Great War and how it affected morality and individuality, including W. Beach Thomas, Stephen Graham, Sergeant James Duncan, Corporal H. L. Currall, 2nd Lieutenant J. B. Herbert, W. B. Kitching, Norman Cliff, Charles Douie, Patrick MacGill, 2nd Lieutenant William Ratcliffe, Guy Chapman, Captain J. E. Crombie and Arthur Osburn.

in A war of individuals