Characterizations of modernism have been changing dramatically over the past decades, but it is only recently that critics have started diagnosing how modernist writers themselves can change our contemporary understanding of what character is—or can potentially become. In a brilliant book that sails against the critical current with the speed and vitality of a Deleuzian line of flight, Omri Moses's Out of Character: Modernism, Vitalism, Psychic life urges readers to “rethink what it means to have a character, or, in the literary case, what it means to be one” (4). He convincingly argues that there is a psychological and ethical potential at the heart of modernism that has so far been untapped yet is readily available in the vitalist philosophies that directly inform early modernist writers such as Henry James, Gertrude Stein, and T. S. Eliot. In the process, Moses offers an...
The Dispossession of Character
nidesh lawtoo is Swiss National Science Foundation visiting scholar in the Humanities Center at Johns Hopkins University. He is the editor of Conrad's Heart of Darkness and Contemporary Thought (2012) and author of The Phantom of the Ego: Modernism and the Mimetic Unconscious (2013) and Conrad's Secret Shadow: Catastrophe, Mimesis, Theory (2016).
Nidesh Lawtoo; The Dispossession of Character. Novel 1 August 2016; 49 (2): 403–407. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-3509245
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