The recent enthusiasm for things postmodern has often produced a caricature of Modernism as monolithic and reactionary. Peter Nicholls argues instead that the distinctive feature of Modernism is its diversity. Through a lively analysis of each of Modernism's main literary movements, he explores the connections between the new stylistic developments and the shifting politics of gender and authority.
Nicholls introduces a wealth of literary experimentation, beginning with Baudelaire and Mallarmé and moving forward to the first avant-gardes. Close readings of key texts monitor the explosive histories of Futurism, Expressionism, Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism, histories that allow Anglo-American Modernism to be seen in a strikingly different light. In revealing Modernism's broad and varied terrain, Nicholls evokes the richness of a cultural moment that continues to shape our own.
Peter Nicholls is Subject Chair of American Studies at the University of Sussex and the author of Ezra Pound: Politics, Economics and Writing (1984).
"This is a very timely work that responds to a genuine need in courses and programs on modernism. Nicholls sees that modernism was not an organic phenomenon whose characteristics can be catalogued according to some ideal taxonomy, but a series of anguished questions about identity, desire, memory, culture, and the nature of modernity itself. Few efforts have been made to survey this vast field—this is undoubtedly the finest survey of its kind."—Lawrence Rainey, author of Ezra Pound and the Monument of Culture and co-editor of the journal Modernism/Modernity