Synopses & Reviews
The quality of today's literary writing arouses the strongest opinions. For novelist and critic Gabriel Josipovici, the contemporary novel in English is profoundly disappointing — a poor relation of its groundbreaking Modernist forebears. This agile and passionate book asks why.
Modernism, Josipovici suggests, is only superficially a reaction to industrialization or a revolution in diction and form; essentially, it is art coming to consciousness of its own limits and responsibilities. And its origins are to be sought not in 1850 or 1800, but in the early 1500s, with the crisis of society and perception that also led to the rise of Protestantism. With sophistication and persuasiveness, Josipovici charts some of Modernism's key stages, from Durer, Rabelais, and Cervantes to the present, bringing together a rich array of artists, musicians, and writers both familiar and unexpected including Beckett, Borges, Friedrich, Cezanne, Stevens, Robbe-Grillet, Beethoven, and Wordsworth. He concludes with a stinging attack on the current literary scene in Britain and America, which raises questions about not only national taste, but contemporary culture itself.
Gabriel Josipovici has spent a lifetime writing, and writing about other writers. What Ever Happened to Modernism? is a strident call to arms, and a tour de force of literary, artistic, and philosophical explication that will stimulate anyone interested in art in the twentieth century and today.
and#8220;[A] small, elegant volume . . . Josipovici offers a refreshing retro-radicalism by rejecting the vetted reading list.and#8221;and#8212;John L. Murphy, New York Journal of Books
"[Josipovici's] approach does more justice to the complexity of Modernism than any capsule account could provide. And because Mr. Josipovici is himself an accomplished novelist, he knows how to craft a strong narrative. . . . The story he tells is unexpectedly compelling."and#8212;Eric Ormsby, Wall Street Journal
"An appealing literary-historical excursion . . . Quite engaging."--M. A. Orthofer, Complete Review
--Eric Ormsby - Wall Street Journal
"An inspiring, sometimes electrifying, call to arms; a serious book for serious readers."--Ben Hamilton, The Millions
--M. A. Orthofer - Complete Review
"Valuable . . . . You dont have to agree with all of Josipovicis demanding ideas about what it means to write fiction after modernism to be stimulated and provoked by this book."--Bill Marx, Arts Fuse
--Ben Hamilton - The Millions
"To read Josipovici's book is to believe that the demise of modernism had mainly to do with the unfortunate drying up of its radical impulses and the attendant reemergence of realism and the 'classic' values that supported it. But there is a more persuasive argument to be made by looking at the tensions and incompatibilities within modernism that made it a field of combat. This was a movement that contained the seeds of its own demise, quite as many other movements do." Robert Boyers, The New Republic
(Read the entire New Republic review
About the Author
Gabriel Josipovici is a prolific and eminent novelist, literary theorist, critic, and scholar. He is currently research professor at the University of Sussex, where he taught in the School of European Studies for thirty-five years. His remarkable body of work spans a wide range of genres and includes three nonfiction books published by Yale University Press: The Book of God (1986), Touch (1996), and On Trust (1999).