If the last drafts of Pound’s Cantos carried the Modernist project into the 1970s, the main impetus of the movement had spent itself by the mid-thirties. The discourse of self-fragmentation was well established by then, and a new generation of writers was emerging whose interests were in social rather than personal issues. The selfhood of an ‘unknown citizen’ was more a matter for sociological analysis than psychological investigation. At the same time, it is difficult to see what, in that decade, the new generation could have added to such radical presentations as ‘Tiresias’, Leopold Bloom or Mrs Dalloway. Joyce’s contemporaneous ‘Work in Progress’ served to indicate how strait the road might be for those who wished to continue Modernist experimentation, and Beckett, who did, contributed nothing distinctive to its discourse until the fifties. Although Auden, in particular, assimilated much of the mood, and some of the mode, of Modernism, thirties writing, overall, appears something of a reaction against the preoccupations and textual complexities of the previous movement. The ‘I’ that becomes ‘a camera’ has suppressed the problems of selfhood and its representation to focus on the realities of the social nexus.


Modernist Project Modernist Movement Modernist Text North American Literature Tabloid Newspaper 
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  1. 1.
    Samuel Beckett, The Unnamable, in Three Novels by Samuel Beckett ( New York: Grove Press, 1965 ), p. 291.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Philip Larkin, The Whitsun Weddings (Faber and Faber, 1973), p. 25. Since writing these brief words on the Movement I have read C. K. Stead’s new book Pound, Yeats, Eliot and the Modernist Movement (Macmillan, 1986). The developing opinions of Donald Davie discussed in Chapter 10 cast an interesting light on my own views in the conclusion and, indeed, this book as a whole.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Dennis Brown 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Hatfield PolytechnicUK

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