12 June 2006

Incompatible with modernism?

Dan Green spots yet another example of the type of misunderstanding that unwittingly maligns the modernists:
That Faulkner conveys a worldview incorporating "classical" qualities must certainly be true, but I don't see why this feature of his work makes it incompatible with modernism. Does this mean T.S. Eliot, a self-confessed classicist, was also no modernist? Has our definition of "modernist" evolved to the stage where it simply means "chaotic"? No work that moves through apparent disorder to achieve a different kind of order need apply to the "timeless" club? With modernists, nothing matters?
I'll have more on this later (when I have a bit more time). Suffice it to say that it's good to see muddied ideas sorted out. In discussions concerning modernism and postmodernism, there is a tendency towards sloppy generalizations that blur essential issues of how a work functions in the first place, leaving us with nothing more than rote stereotypes that lead to facile judgments. This robs us of literary understanding rather than adding to it. Better to confess ignorance than to make unwarranted assumptions.

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