27 may. 2009

The case for high modernism / late modernism in Spain, being the movement of most vitality, is even stronger than I thought. Where my argument in The Twilight of the Avant-Garde was much more qualified and hedged, I am now prepared to make the case that modernism is a movement that we have not yet caught up with. No more apologies for hard-core late modernism in my next book Fragments of a Late Modernity.

The introduction is titled "Catching Tigers in Red Weather." Basically, the point here is modernism is still the strongest game in town, and that a full reckoning of the movement could not happen until much later. No one, single reader in 1930 could have had access to Pessoa, Cavafy, Rilke, Lorca, H.D., Vallejo, Mayakovsky, Stein, Williams, Breton, all at the same time. We're lucky even now to find a grad student who knows even the basics of modernism. Modernism, historically, was and is fragmented. Any reading of modernism is not a reconstruction of some knowledge that existed in 1930, but a recuperation of a past that never happened. Literary history is our own invention, but we have ample material with which to work.

Nor did modernism end in 1930, or 1939, or 1960. It was only something called "postmodernism" that seemed to put a final point to it. But what was postmodernism except a continued recuperation of the modernist heritage in all its richness?

So after the introduction, I will have two chapters on Lorca. Nothing to do with Apocryphal Lorca, but an attempt to recuperate him within international modernism and connect him with a later Spanish poetry that seems to neglect him.

After that, three chapters on the Zambrano / Valente nexus, two of which I've already written, so that should be easy.

The final section consists of four chapters. I wrote my dissertation on Claudio Rodríguez, but that was twenty years ago. It's time for me to revisit the strongest Spanish poet of our time. Another chapter on Gamoneda, which I've also already written.

A chapter that tentatively will address the work of Núñez and Ullán. A final one devoted to OGV.

I've written 3 of 8 chapters, plus an article in Spanish containing some of the ideas for the first Lorca chapter.

Here are my worries:

The book will be boring.
It will keep me from more interesting projects.
Nobody will read it.
The book will be too much a repetition of TWOTAG and AL.
I won't find a publisher.

2 comentarios:

Joseph Hutchison dijo...

Buck up, Bucko. Your worries surely apply to every writing effort, large and small. I happen to think it's about time someone smarter than me puts the flesh on the bones of this insight about Modernism. I can't guarantee the publisher, but I can guarantee at least one reader.

Thomas Basbøll dijo...

Go, Jonathan! I just picked up Apocryphal and am enjoying it a great deal. (I will soon truly be able to say that everything I know about Lorca I learned from Jonathan Mayhew.) What you are saying about modernism is dead on. In fact, I wonder if we can't say: modernism isn't something that happened in the 1930s but the art of recuperating the past, of "becoming one's own contemporary" (as I think Kierkegaard put it). Postmodernists are sometimes trying to do that as well, but I think the tension is sometimes real enough (like classicism/romanticism). There is a way of reading literature that is not at all interested in recuperation.