Reluctant Modernists: Aldous Huxley and Some Contemporaries : a Collection of Essays
The essays collected here deal with modernist writers who, on the whole, felt 'reluctant' about their modernist status because they believed that it was just as important to look backward as it was to look forward. Indeed, for most of them looking backward was more important because it was only through the past that one could understand one's proper place in the present and in the future. That is why in Huxley's Brave New World it is the rejection of the past in the future - and by implication in the present - that makes its satire so penetrating. Modernism, in other words, means for these writers not a radical break with the past but a continuing search for what still connects them (and us) vitally with it. Peter Firchow, Professor of English at the University of Minnesota, is the author of several books on modern and modernist literary subjects, including books on Huxley, Conrad, and Auden. The publication of some of his hitherto uncollected essays in this volume is intended to honor
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Page 6 - The necessity that he shall conform, that he shall cohere, is not one-sided; what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it. The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them.
Page 20 - LOVELIEST of trees, the cherry now Is hung with bloom along the bough, And stands about the woodland ride Wearing white for Eastertide. Now, of my threescore years and ten, Twenty will not come again, And take from seventy springs a score, It only leaves me fifty more. 3 And since to look at things in bloom Fifty springs are little room, About the woodlands I will go To see the cherry hung with snow.
Page 27 - Into my heart an air that kills From yon far country blows: What are those blue remembered hills, What spires, what farms are those? That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went And cannot come again.
Page 26 - Only a man harrowing clods In a slow silent walk, With an old horse that stumbles and nods Half asleep as they stalk. Only thin smoke without flame From the heaps of couch-grass; Yet this will go onward the same Though dynasties pass. Yonder a maid and her wight Come whispering by; War's annals will cloud into night Ere their story die.