Tag Archives: modern

shifting in and out of Focus

“Gently the yellow curtain with all the birds of Paradise blew out and it seemed as if there were a flight of wings into the room, right out and then sucked back. (For the windows were open.)”

Woolf, V. (1925). Mrs. Dalloway. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co. p.164

The narration fades in and out of consciousness to focus on different aspects of what is gong on. A detail so minute as flowers flying in the wind is enhanced into focus to show the everyday lives of people in a time where much larger events are going on around the world.This relates to Woolf’s unit of analysis of the individual as being modern.

Emotion and Attraction

“Melanctha Herbet always loved too hard and much too often She was always full of mystery and subtle movements and denials and vague distrusts and complicated disillusions. Then Melanctha would be sudden and impulsive and unbounded in some faith and unbounded in some faith, and then would suffer and be strong in her repression”

Stein, Gertrude. “Melanctha.” Three lives. New York: Dover Publications, 1994. 50. Print

 

During an era where Victorian values dominated women, Melanctha was different and free. She was sexually liberated and assertive regardless of the repression she faced. Melanctha’s emotions are so vivid during these sentences we get the notion that Melanctha is complicated and different than other women. We get the thought that she is a little off the walls, yet so sexual that she can barely contain it. This is ground breaking for Stein’s writing because the subject of a black woman, let alone being a sexual being, is something that did not enter the world until this very moment. We finally get a glimpse at the feelings of a woman, who may or may not be a little crazy.

Dark

“It had become so pitch dark that we listeners could hardly see one another. For a long time already he, sitting apart, had been no more to us than a voice. There was not a word from anybody. The others might have been asleep, but I was awake. I listened, I listened on the watch for the sentence, for the word, that would give me the clue to the faint uneasiness inspired by this narrative that seemed to shape itself without human lips in the heavy night-air of the river”.

 

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. In Youth: A Narrative; and Other Tales. Rev. ed. Edited by Cedric Watts. Oxford University Press, 2002. p.130.

 

I think this shows modernity from the darkness that he seems to portray during this paragraph. It is darker and creepier which makes me feel as though it is modern.

Commonplace #2

“…the modern, by definition is always new, and therefore open to the challenge, the only way in literary space to be truly modern is to contest the present as outmoded – to appeal to a still more present present, as yet unknown, which thus becomes the newest certified present” (91).

Casanova, Pascale. “The World Republic of Letters”. transl. M. B. Devoise. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999. pp. 91.

This solidifies the properties of modern fiction that were discussed in class and how they bring about breaks with and within traditions. Modern is meant to challenge the old, presenting a new, refreshing piece of writing. It is something that is newer than the new, and “more present present”.

Cassanova’s Modern

“It is also inevitably an occasion of rivalry and competition: because the modern by definition is always new, and therefore open to challenge, the only way in literary space to be truly modern is to contest the present as outmoded – to appeal to a still more present present…”

Casanova, Pascale. “The World Republic of Letters”. transl. M. B. Devoise. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999. pp. 92.

Cassanova opens his piece by getting straight to his point that modernity is challenging the present. There are many different modernities that can occupy the present, and they all have their own unique way of not conforming to the present style. What i find extremely interesting about this statement is that Cassanova implies that to be modern, one has to not be modern, in a sense: modern is an ongoing process that is always moving, which seems as though to say that there is not one true vision of what is presently modern. Instead, to be modern, one has to figure out new ways to stay ahead of what was once considered to be modern .

Modernity changes with time

“The modern work is condemned to become dated unless, by achieving the status of a classic, it manages to free itself from the fluctuations of taste and critical opinion… Literarily speaking, a classic is a work that rises above competition and so escapes the bidding of time. Only in this way can a modern work be rescued from aging, by being declared timeless and immortal. The classic incarnates literary legitimacy itself, which is to say what is recognized as constituting Literature; what, in serving as a unit of measure, supplies the basis for determining the limits of that which is considered to be literary.”

Casanova, Pascale. “The World Republic of Letters”. transl. M. B. Devoise. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1999. pp. 92.

Casanova seems to be suggesting that what it means to be a truly modern work is constantly changing with those writing in different styles and coming up with the “most recent innovations in form and technique”; that is unless it is great enough to reach the status of a classic. From my understanding, Casanova is attempting to describe a modern work with a greater focus on the word “modern” which attempts to constantly grasp at the present while claiming its legitimacy as literature only if it were great enough to become a classic.