Works On Modernism

Armstrong, Tim (2005), Modernism: A Cultural History, Cambridge: Polity

The best of the many recent introductions to modernism. Remarkably wide-ranging account of modernism that represents the concerns of modernist studies in the 2000s as Nicholls's volume did in the 1990s.

Bürger, Peter (1984) Theory of the Avant-Garde, trans. Michael Shaw, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press

Key work in modernist studies, which distinguishes between modernism and 'the historical avant-garde', to the detriment of modernism. It is written in dense, philosophical prose, but provides a penetrating analysis of modernism, the avant-garde and, indeed, the role of art more generally.

Jones, Peter (ed.) (2001) Imagist Poetry, London: Penguin

This is an anthology of imagist poetry, invaluable in itself, but listed here because its introduction provides one of the clearest short accounts of the imagist movement.

Kermode, Frank (2001) Romantic Image, London: Routledge

First published in 1957, it was this ground-breaking work that established the romantic and aestheticist heritage of modernism.

Longenbach, James (1987) Modernist Poetics of History: Pound, Eliot, and the Sense of the Past, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

This is a scholarly work that works through some difficult material: it is the best of the surprisingly small number of critical works that deal with modernism's theories of history.

Levenson, Michael H. (1984) A Genealogy of Modernism: A Study in English Literary Doctrine, 1908—1922, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Much admired analysis of the critical connections that produced modernism. This book is more literary critical, less philosophical, than Schwartz's (below), and is renowned particularly for its re-dating of Hulme's essays, which transformed our understanding of his career. The best single introduction to the Eliot—Hulme—Pound strand of modernism.

Nicholls, Peter (1995) Modernisms, Basingstoke: Macmillan

This book is representative of the shift away from the New Critical version of modernism in the 1990s, expanding the modernist canon and showing the relevance of theoretical questions raised by studies of postmodernism.

Rainey, Lawrence (1999) Institutions of Modernism: Literary Elites and Public Culture, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press

Highly detailed and compelling account of modernism's dissemination through its 'institutions': its publishing houses, journals, patronage system and drawing rooms. One of its two chapters on Pound concerns Pound's marketing of imagism, the other discusses the Malatesta Cantos in relation to fascism; the chapter on Eliot analyses the publication of The Waste Land.

Schwartz, Sanford (1985) The Matrix of Modernism: Pound, Eliot, and Early Twentieth Century Thought, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press

A pioneering account of the philosophical and critical ideas that underpin modernism, written in very clear and accessible prose.

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