For Jed Rasula, in History of a Shiver, all the modernist arts are post-Wagnerian. Modernist artists, in Rasula’s terms, long for an art that could be as abstract as music, in which an illusion of insight is gained, but we can never know what that insight is. This ambitious book professes to be about “melomania,” an excessive love of music, as manifested across multiple modernist art forms. Yet it is about much more. At its heart, the book poses one of modernism’s great conundrums: why did modernist art, across many of its forms, veer, in the pre– and post–Second World War years, toward abstraction? By focusing on how many of the modernist arts aimed for the condition of music, Rasula, in this wide-ranging and suggestive critical work, links somatic experience, a sense of spirituality, and the impulse to abstraction which, for him, characterize...
History of a Shiver: The Sublime Impudence of Modernism by Jed Rasula
Enda Duffy is Arnhold Presidential Department Chair of English at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of The Subaltern Ulysses (1996) and The Speed Handbook: Velocity, Pleasure, Modernism (2009), which won the Modernist Studies Association prize for the best book in modernist studies. He has coedited Joyce, Benjamin, and Magical Urbanism (2011) and edited The Best Short Stories of Katherine Mansfield (2011) and an edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses (2009). He has just completed a book project: Wild Irish: The Emigrant People’s History of Irish Literature and is writing a book on twentieth-century accounts of human and planetary energy.
Enda Duffy; History of a Shiver: The Sublime Impudence of Modernism by Jed Rasula. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 December 2018; 64 (4): 504–510. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-7299884
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