The Exilic-Utopian Imagination and Literary Discourse in Modernism and Postmodernism

  • Mihai I. Spariosu
Part of the Modernism and … book series (MAND)


We have seen that the exilic-utopian imagination is operative during most of the historical periods that cultural historians associate with early Western civilization, from the archaic period to classical Greece. As I pointed out in Chapter 3, Section 3.3, a history of the exilic-utopian imagination in subsequent ages would trace its avatars within several cycles of modernity, including the Modern Age (since 1800), which I have called a phase of “high modernity.” Modernism clearly belongs to such a phase. One can argue that the modernist exilic-utopian imagination has played a significant role in, and has in turn been stimulated by major sociopolitical developments during the 20th century—one of the bloodiest periods in world history. Among such sociopolitical developments one may cite the massive human dislocations as a result of two World Wars; the division of the political world into various antagonistic ideological camps in the wake of these Wars; and, more recently, the breakdown and fragmentation of the binary global power system that emerged after World War II, where a number of postcolonial and fundamentalist religious and nationalistic forces vie for local or regional hegemony with the remaining “superpower.”


Literary Discourse Cultural Authority Archaic Period Sociopolitical Development High Modernity 
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  1. 2.
    Michel Foucault (1977) “Language to Infinity,” in Language, Counter-Memory, Practice: Selected Essays and Interviews, edited by Donald F. Bouchard, Ithaca: Cornell University Press, p. 55, my emphasis. Further page references in the main body of my text are to this edition.Google Scholar
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    For a more recent treatment of this subject, see Zygmunt Bauman (1992), Mortality, Immortality, and Other Life Strategies, Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
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    For a full discussion of heroic values and death in Homeric epic, see Spariosu (1991), God of Many Names, pp. 28–40.Google Scholar
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    Edward W. Said (2000), Reflections on Exile and Other Essays, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, p. 181. Further page references are to this edition and are included in the main body of my text.Google Scholar
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© Mihai I. Spariosu 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mihai I. Spariosu
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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