The Old Moderns: Essays on Literature and Theory

Denis Donoghue, Author Knopf Publishing Group $27.5 (303p) ISBN 978-0-394-58934-3
There are as many versions of modernism as there are critics, asserts Donoghue, distinguished literary critic and English professor at New York University. One common ground linking modernist writers, in his view, is their mistrust of mass society and their experience of city life as fragmentary and uprooted. That theme loosely holds together this miscellany of 17 astute scholarly essays and lectures. Donoghue shuttles handily between such writers as Poe, Wordsworth, Joyce, Eliot, Yeats, Wallace Stevens and Henry James, and engages in critical polemics with the theories of Lionel Trilling, R. P. Blackmur, Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault and Matthew Arnold. In two essays, he defends Eliot against those who disparage his literary output as the work of an authoritarian social critic. Elsewhere Donoghue discusses the influence of Nietzsche and Pound on Yeats, the art of translation, and the injection of the politics of the right or left into literary criticism. Reader's Subscription alternate selection. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994
Release date: 03/01/1994
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