A Sinking Island: The Modern English Writers

A Sinking Island: The Modern English Writers

by Hugh Kenner
     
 

The island, of course, is England. Having considered the modern writers of America in A Homemade World and Ireland in A Colder Eye, Kenner turns to the third of International Modernism's "three provinces." His judgment is often harsh -- he argues that in the last quarter of the twentieth century "there's no longer an English literature" -- but his book is a pure…  See more details below

Overview

The island, of course, is England. Having considered the modern writers of America in A Homemade World and Ireland in A Colder Eye, Kenner turns to the third of International Modernism's "three provinces." His judgment is often harsh -- he argues that in the last quarter of the twentieth century "there's no longer an English literature" -- but his book is a pure delight in its pungent, lively, and thoughtful amalgam of anecdote and critical analysis, detective work and celebration.

A Sinking Island begins in 1895. Joseph Conrad and H. G. Wells had just published their first novels, Thomas Hardy his last. Kenner shows how the modern manner arose in writers like Wells, Yeats, and Ford Madox Ford -- and later in Pound, Eliot, and D. H. Lawrence. Yet all the while, Kenner argues, middlebrow taste continued to reign supreme in England, ignoring the innovative in favor of stodgy literary artisans. By the time World War II ends and we approach the present, the island has very nearly sunk.

Hugh Kenner's account of what went wrong is no less engaging for being sharp, and his wit and essential seriousness complement one another. Marianne Moore called him "entertaining and fearless." A Sinking Island splendidly confirms her judgment.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal - Library Journal
This study of 20th-century English writers carries forward Kenner's seemingly inexhaustible discussion of literary modernism. Besides Conrad, Wells, Lawrence, Eliot, and Woolf, he takes up a host of lesser figures; studies social and historical contexts (the Great War, new reading publics); and talks about painting, popular literature, and criticism. Virtually every page of the book dances with a characteristic mix of fact, anecdote, and analysis. And Kenner's unconventional judgments are wonderfully provocative: Woolf and Larkin are savaged while Bunting and Tomlinson earn high praise. For breadth and readability, few critics come close to Kenner. Essential.Michael Hennessy, John Carroll Univ., Cleveland, Ohio

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780801838378
Publisher:
Johns Hopkins University Press
Publication date:
11/28/1979
Pages:
290
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.23(h) x 0.84(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >