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We are used to thinking of the First World War as a literary war, thanks not least to the long-lasting influence of Paul Fussell's The Great War.
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Research Article April 01 English Language Notes 57 1 : Abstract Absent from prodigious critical scholarship about the seas is a discussion of modernism between the wars. Issue Section:. You do not currently have access to this content. Sign in. You could not be signed in.

Client Account. Sign In Forgot password? Don't have an account? Sign in via your Institution Sign In. Buy This Article. View Metrics. Chapter 3 compares the persistence of an aesthetics based on pictorial landscaping in C.


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In their narrations both writers subordinate topographical factuality to emotional content and use their texts to address underlying anxieties about the postwar role of returning soldiers and the need to regenerate a devastated culture. This type of critical reading is highly beneficial, firstly, for the concept of modernism to keep its freshness; secondly, to recognize that under this concept hides a proliferation of contradictions; and thirdly to emphasize how our general discourse on modernism as a global phenomenon must be continually revisited, since many of the ideas that we think well established might not be so.

According to Sicari, this inspiration is not merely discursive, since both the models and the modern works share a humanistic perspective incarnated in Christian values. Against them, the book suggests reading landmarks of modernism as humanist vindications of Christianity facing a broken reality and disintegrating values. Like them, in order to fight against the platonic contempt of the flesh, Joyce elevates the dignity of the human body through the notion of incarnation.

So Leopold Bloom, in his acts of kindness, mercy, and love throughout the novel, becomes an emblem of Christian values and a manifestation of the Incarnation. In chapter 2, Sicari argues that at the bottom of human relationships, as portrayed in The Revenge for Love , Lewis locates the value of love as a transcendent feeling before and after ideology and as an escape from nihilism. With this movement in a highly charged political novel, Lewis exposes ideology as a series of false bottoms and winds up with a sentiment-based sense of the human self as genuine and real.

Finally, chapter 4 explains how T. Eliot presents in Four Quartets a complex vision to express the relationship between creature and God, the time-bound and the timeless, through a theistic humanism that, again, places the Christian mystery of Incarnation in its center. On the one hand, in terms of methodology, the book provides little historical, sociological, and intellectual context for the works, with the understanding that the reader will share a particular interpretation of the modernist time span.

This leads to abstract readings of the works, posited in a vacuum, not compared with statements by the very same authors, contemporary debates, or historical events. On the other hand, as I insinuated, Sicari begs an interpretation of the modernist period with a strong ideological mark: a time of secularization, crisis, empty materialism, and other huge disasters that unfold the negative effects of modernity. Here modernism fits seamlessly into a simplified interpretation of a modernity constituted by cold rationalism, authoritarianism, and subjectivism, leaving as the greatest times of the history of humanity the centuries of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, just the epoch that according to the thesis of the book would be longed for, retrieved, and updated by the great modernists.

They would therefore react not only to the present but also to three centuries of exacerbated rationalism, skepticism, liberalism, and materialism. Against the Enlightenment project and its materialistic values, the reaction of the chiefs of high modernism would be, with nuances in each case, to propose as an alternative a modernist humanism grounded in the crucial category of love, more specifically Christian love.

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A renowned specialist in the period and director of The Modernism Lab at Yale, in his monograph of Modernism, Nationalism, and the Novel he focused on the relationship between the modernist novel and the crisis of faith of the liberal idea of the nation-state. Now he presents a study of the ties between religion and the modernist novel under the same methodological premise central to modernist studies: the new ways of narrating that modernist authors put in practice are the translation to technique of the socio-political and axiological crisis they experience.

Challenging the assumption that modernist authors easily fit in a context of increasing secularization in which religion occupies a marginal space, Lewis argues that the modernist productions could be read as different attempts to rewrite a highly complex religious experience and therefore as a individual rehabilitation of the sacred in times of indigence of values.

Lewis begins by making us notice the repetition of a scene in modern fiction: the solitary visit to a sacred place i. This is indicative of a complex situation: the unease of recognizing the decline of religion as a socially binding institution, the anxiety to understand the solitude caused by the absence of God and the social practices around him, and the concern for making understandable and sharable the experience of the divine, both in presence or in absence.

The second chapter is, on one hand, devoted to discussing how the mainstream theory of secularization of the twentieth century does not recognize this important situation and therefore should be revisited. On the other hand, Lewis argues that the concerns of modernist writers about religious affairs were shared by leading psychologists and social theorists of the time. This correspondence of interests not only provides a deeper and wider historical-ideological framework for discussion of the novels, it also sets the tone for the development of the subsequent chapters and justifies the choice of authors and works: Lewis devotes each chapter to a noted modernist author paired with a social theorist who has common views.

Literary Modernism and the First World War

First we have Henry and William James. Representing those variously apprehended perceptions still posed a difficulty, as the accepted medium of representation remained the objective map whose objectivity, as we have noted, had been called into question. Nevertheless, in these two essays, Ford works out a method for addressing the differences between perception and representation—a method founded on the notion of a compartmented mind. At this point, however, the full application of this method was still stymied by the resistance of cartographic objectivity to reconciliation with subjective observation.

Remapping the Great War in British Fiction

It would take several years for Ford to refine his solution farther by reformulating what mapping accomplishes. The same structure of a compartmented mind and the assimilation of both impressionistic and factual topographical elements appear in No Enemy, but with a crucial shift in the way its author understands the capacities of mapping. No Enemy is a strange book. Ostensibly, it records the fictional history of a poet-turned soldier named Gringoire, who has served as a British officer in France.

Yet the existence of Gringoire and the Compiler together complicates the autobiographical element of the work, and the precise relationship between Ford, Gringoire, and the Compiler is far from clear. Furthermore, the text consists of fragmentary episodes arranged out of chronological order, rather than a consistent narrative; to add to the resulting disjointedness, the device of the Compiler disappears in the second half of the book.

Finally, No Enemy exhibits an element of pastiche, as Ford drew on several pieces of writing—a half-dozen essays and some poetry—that he had published elsewhere Skinner xi—xii. Comprising autobiography and fiction, and both poetry and prose, No Enemy consequently defies easy generic classification. Charles G. Then again it may; it all depends. A fiction with two narrators but without a narrative; an autobiography without a self; [. Critics seeking to explain the generic and structural oddities of No Enemy tend to see the work as demonstrating the similitude between an impressionistic, fragmentary text and the way that war is experienced.

The war seemed to Ford to have neither; and so he set out to write a book without a narrative. I propose, however, that Ford relates these landscapes according to a certain order, after all—not in the sense of a sequence, but in the sense of a logic that orders the description of what one sees and what one maps. This logic is the logic of cartographic visualization, which determines what Gringoire can and cannot see, and the rules by which he is to represent what he can visualize. On one level, and in certain episodes, Ford rather straightforwardly rejects that logic and its associated rules.

For instance, when a French government minister asks Gringoire to write propaganda pieces, and he replies that to do so he would need some rest, Gringoire invokes the conventions of For that, as far as I know, military topography has no symbol—unless it be a white handkerchief on the end of [a bayonet]. A British staff officer gets soldiers killed—nearly an entire company wiped out—by giving them marching orders from one point to another via an open road in plain sight of enemy artillery.

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The staff officer merely followed the protocols of the cartographic manuals; he left out the important information of the enemy location, but his principal mistake was to trust map-derived knowledge in the first place. While these examples might lead us to draw the conclusion that Ford simply positions maps as thoroughly discredited signifiers, the sequence of landscape observations in No Enemy tells a more nuanced story about what maps mean and what mapping can accomplish.

The culminating landscape in the book to which we shall turn shortly takes place in a moment of mapping—when Gringoire ascends a hill to record what he sees according to the protocols of military cartography that I have outlined. In this exemplary In part one of No Enemy, Gringoire experiences several profound moments of suddenly noticing the landscape before him, as if its essence had just been revealed.


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A number of critics considering the relationship between spatial perception and representation have argued an opposite idea, however—namely, that landscape does not antedate its observation but is instead the product of human action of which, I might add, observation forms a crucial part. It is made into a landscape, that is, into a humanly meaningful space, by the living that takes place within it. Thus, for each of these critics landscape is the product of cultural forces, human experience, and the artifice of representation.

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The first and third of the four major landscape visions do couch observation in metaphorical terms of parting mists or lifting curtains. Imaginary landscapes assume an even more important role in the fourth landscape, which is for us the key topographical moment of the book in that it directly cites the techniques of military cartography. In this final example, we learn that the series of four major landscapes does not culminate in the revelation of physical space, but instead in an explication of created psychological space. And then, suddenly, there were great motionless trees, heavy in their summer foliage, blue-gray, beneath a very high sky; there was the long, quiet part of the palace; the red brick, glowing in the sun, the shadows of the windows very precise and blue.

The second moment repeats the terms of an interposed curtain deployed in the first moment. The flat lands of Essex were there, stretching out; flat fields; undistinguished beneath a dull sky. He speculated on the crops; on the labour it took to the acre to put in those cabbages; on the winds that must sweep across the comparatively hedgeless spaces. Again, here as in the vision of Kensington Gardens, the obscuring presence of the war lifts for a moment to reveal the true landscape, one of crops and growth and weather, until the consciousness of the conflict closes in again.

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The third moment takes place in the Somme in July , when Gringoire strides through thistles, presumably he later concludes disturbing masses of It is one of the five things of the war that I really see, for it was like walking, buoyantly, in the pellucid sunlight, waist-high through a sea of unsurpassed and unsurpassable azure. I felt as if I were a Greek god. It was like a miracle. A vision has suddenly emerged with a miraculous clarity, endowing the observer with a feeling of power over his situation, as the oppressive presence of the war seems temporarily suspended.

Before the appearance of the fourth landscape, then, the reader is prepared to consider these moments as the enactment of a miraculous or heavenly respite from the war through an act of apprehending the physical terrain in a moment of insight. However, two more landscapes intervene, confusingly enough, contradicting the terms of the first three.

He decides to remain in camp instead. Not quite a landscape; a nook, rather; the full extent of the view about one hundred seventy yards by two hundred seventy—the closed up end of a valley; closed up by trees—willows, silver birches, oaks, and Scotch pines; deep, among banks; with a little stream, just a trickle, level with the grass of the bottom. You understand the idea—a sanctuary.

Yet this landscape episode introduces an important distinction: Gringoire is not describing what he sees, but what he imagines himself to see. The mist or curtain of the war does not briefly lift to reveal a preexisting landscape in momentary clarity; rather, Gringoire creates the vision of a landscape. Now, however, we learn the particulars of the view: south to the sea, with the coast of France on the horizon in clear weather.

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It existed in front of the purple of scabrous flowers on the great shoulder that masked the battlefield. It wavered, precisely as you will see the coloured image cast on a sheet by a magic lantern, then slowly, it hardened and brightened [. This double vision of both an imagined and a perceived landscape sets the stage for what happens in the fourth landscape: the virtually simultaneous interpretation of the same landscape on different mental planes. This fourth landscape occupies the central pages of No Enemy and both the physical and psychological high points of the account.

Gringoire climbs Mt. Vedaigne to analyze the view and make note of enemy positions in order to brief his superior officers about the terrain into which his division has just arrived. And he saw, without seeing, and memorized without associations—just names attaching to dark patches in a great plain. You see, his mind was just working in the watertight compartments of his immediate professional job. He wanted to make—and he did make by a.

He wanted the general to be able to stand on each point, look down on the card, follow the direction of the arrow, and identify the place. Gringoire goes on to carry out expertly the objective, perspectivalist exercises in landscape perception and representation detailed in The first compartment belongs to Gringoire as the Acting Intelligence Officer. The Infantry Officer catalogues and classifies the parts of Mt.