Litkicks Message Board Archive

Premodernist

Posted to WritersAndGenres




If you were to trace the moment when literature like some great shorebird cleared the sand of simple declarative sentences, it would be Gertrude Stein, in english, I would bet. She invented modernism. She said so herself. Joyce was only a punster.

In fact, we just had a string of attempted Beat clonings right here, and they all read more like bad Stein imitations than anything else.

Joyce and Woolf for the "stream of consciousness." Town and the City was a traditional first novel, and I don't know where any Wolfean influence would be in there. Overwrought overheated prose, that was Wolfe, and that was the K of Tristessa and Maggie Cassady and other dime novels.

Louis Céline. I wondered if the Beat reverence for Céline was some kind of bad joke. If not, it represented great naïveté, or something worse. Céline was a rabid anti-semite even the prewar French nazis wouldn't touch because he was too radical, according to Hannah Arendt; he was advocating genocide in the thirties. This Beat role model fled France after the war, a convicted nazi collaborator.