Synopses & Reviews
Marjorie Perloff's stunning book was one of the first to offer a serious and far-reaching examination of the momentous flourishing of Futurist aesthetics in the European art and literature of the early twentieth century. Offering penetrating considerations of the prose, visual art, poetry, and carefully crafted manifestos of Futurists from Russia to Italy, Perloff reveals the Moment's impulses and operations, tracing its echoes through the years to the work of "postmodern" figures like Roland Barthes. This updated edition, with its new preface, reexamines the Futurist Moment in the light of a new century, in which Futurist aesthetics seem to have steadily more to say to the present.
Among the brilliant writers and thinkers who emerged from the multicultural and polyglot world of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were Sigmund Freud, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Franz Kafka, and Paul Celan. For them, the trauma of the First World War included the sudden dissolution of the geographical entity into which they were born. Austria, the small, fragile republic that emerged from the Empire in 1918, became in Karl Krausand#8217;s words the and#147;research laboratory for world destruction.and#8221; In this major reconsideration of European modernism, Marjorie Perloff identifies and explores the aesthetic world that emerged from the rubble of WWI Vienna and other former Hapsburg territoriesand#151;an Austro-Modernist ethos that strangely anticipates the darkness and cynicism of our own disillusioned twenty-first-century culture. Perloff introduces works in a variety of genresand#151;drama (Krausand#8217;s and#147;Last Days of Mankindand#8221;), the novel (Rothand#8217;s and#147;The Radetzky Marchand#8221;), the essay (central to Robert Musiland#8217;s and#147;The Man without Qualitiesand#8221;), the memoir (Elias Canettiand#8217;s and#147;The Tongue Set Freeand#8221;), the lyric poem (Celanand#8217;s love poetry), and the philosophical notebook (Wittgenstein)and#151;so as to give even non-specialists a sense of the complex and troubled literary scene created in the shadow of empire and war. These writers created a deeply skeptical and resolutely individualistic modernismand#151;one much less ideologically charged, for example, than its counterpart in Germany. Austro-Modernism was not and#147;avant-gardeand#8221; in the usual senses, Perloff shows. But its savage and grotesquely comic irony, its conviction, most memorably expressed by Wittgenstein, that argumentation was best conveyed through aphorism, its fondness for paradox and contradiction as modes of understanding, and its early embrace of an aesthetics of documentation and appropriationand#151;these may well be the most lasting legacies of any modernist movement. Austro-Modernism emerges here as a vital alternative, not only to the French and Anglo-American modernisms that have largely defined the period, but also to Weimar and the Frankfurt School, so central to Anglo-American cultural studies.
About the Author
Marjorie Perloff is professor of English emerita at Stanford University and the Florence R. Scott Professor of English Emerita at the University of Southern California. She is the author of many books, including, most recently, Poetics in a New Key and Unoriginal Genius, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
1. Profond Aujourd'hui
2. The Invention of Collage
3. Violence and Precision: The Manifesto as Art Form
4. The Word Set Free: Text and Image in the Russian Futurist Book
5. Ezra Pound and "The Prose Tradition in Verse"
6. Deus ex Machina: Some Futurist Legacies