A compelling case exists for reading literary modernism alongside the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. The case in part is historical: the span of Wittgenstein’s life (1889–1951) makes him a nearly exact contemporary of canonical modernists like Virginia Woolf and James Joyce (both 1882–1941). Wittgenstein briefly joined—and then promptly quit—the same Cambridge intellectual society that counted among its members such Bloomsbury-affiliated figures as E. M. Forster, Lytton Strachey, and Woolf’s husband Leonard. Scholars have often identified cosmopolitanism and global warfare as two key features of Western modernity; Wittgenstein was an Austrian native who lived much of his adult life in England, and who fought for the Austrian army on the front lines of World War I. But the case is also stylistic. Though Wittgenstein’s thought has long been associated with logical positivism, it would be a mistake to assume that Wittgenstein shared the logical positivists’ disdain for the literary, as Michael...
Kafka and Wittgenstein: The Case for an Analytic Modernism by Rebecca Schuman, Wittgenstein and Modernism ed. by Michael LeMahieu and Karen Zumhagen-Yekplé
Greg Chase is a doctoral candidate in English and American literature at Boston University. His dissertation, “‘The Silent Soliloquy of Others’: Language and Acknowledgment in Modernist Fiction, 1910–52,” examines Wittgenstein’s philosophy in conjunction with novels by Woolf, Faulkner, Wright, and others. His articles have appeared in Twentieth-Century Literature and Arizona Quarterly.
Greg Chase; Kafka and Wittgenstein: The Case for an Analytic Modernism by Rebecca Schuman, Wittgenstein and Modernism ed. by Michael LeMahieu and Karen Zumhagen-Yekplé. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 March 2018; 64 (1): 101–110. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-4387737
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