Modernism and the Ordinary

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After Modernism? Or Developing Modernism?

Yet it would be wrong to argue that Wittgenstein was a modernist tout court. For Wittgenstein, as well as for modernist art, understanding is not gained by such straightforward statements.

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It needs time, hesitation, a variety of articulations, the refusal of tempting solutions, and perhaps even a sense of defeat. It is such a vision of the linkage between Wittgenstein and modernism that guides the present volume. Andrews, UK 2.


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Denis, France The themes are timely and deep: radical self-criticism as method; inevitable tensions facing phenomenological attentiveness to form in logic, psychology, and the 'ordinary'; philosophy's relation to literature, poetry, theatre and music; mysticism, pessimism, and certainty. From diverse perspectives informed both by philosophy and the arts, contributors to this volume refute that scepticism.

They elucidate the tantalising relationships that arise from Wittgenstein's radical self-criticism, his concern with language and the arts, and the intensified development of the Enlightenment project that modernism represents. This website uses cookies to improve user experience. By using our website you consent to all cookies in accordance with our Cookie Policy.

Ulysses – Modernism Lab

Yet Modernism and the Ordinary also emphasizes how the authors under consideration "questioned the possibility of successfully [End Page ] doing so," and, as a result, the study fails fully to explore its main field of investigation Olson's introduction effectively lays out the stakes of her project: a comprehensive understanding of modernism must take into account not only its hallmark aesthetics of shock and difficulty but also its engagement with "the diffuse and messy particularities" of everyday life that offer "stability, efficiency, and comfort" 5.

Olson regards the mundane, for example, as a necessary context within which the epiphany actually acquires meaning; at stake is a process, not a moment. Similarly, habit is, for Olson, a quotidian practice useful in its ability to counterbalance the disruptive and traumatic effects of war. In Olson's account, these distinct and valuable characteristics of the ordinary—the factual, the habitual, the routine—stand in contrast to the ordinary as unimportant, disregarded, and, therefore, difficult to represent.

Olson asks, "How does a writer replicate what is overlooked, if the nature of literary representation is to look closely at its subject? Olson's study is, in part, guided by this ostensible "paradox of representing the unrepresented" The problem, of course, is that to be "unrepresented" is hardly to be unrepresentable—as Olson's attention to the quotidian practices depicted by these authors plainly demonstrates.

The discussion of Joyce and Ulysses in chapter 1 exemplifies this problematic.

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Olson ably examines Joyce's debt to Henrik Ibsen, illustrating how Joyce's interest in the commonplace, like Ibsen's, works as a means of resisting romanticism and, moreover, how Ulysses moves beyond epiphany in its handling of the quotidian. Joyce's lists serve as Olson's main body of evidence.

ISBN 13: 9780195368123

They present ordinary facts straightforwardly, but, by running out of control or becoming hyperobjective as in "Ithaca" , they also draw attention to the limitations of mimetic representation. The argument is sound. For this reviewer, though, Olson spends unnecessary time developing a standard reading of Joyce relying on Karen Lawrence's and Franco Moretti's considerations of Joycean stylistics 1 , when she might Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

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