Classicism of the Twenties: Art, Music, and Literature

Overview


The triumph of avant-gardes in the 1920s tends to dominate our discussions of the music, art, and literature of the period. But the broader current of modernism encompassed many movements, and one of the most distinct and influential was a turn to classicism.
 
In Classicism of the Twenties, Theodore Ziolkowski offers a compelling account of that movement. Giving equal attention to music, art, and literature, and focusing in particular on...
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Overview


The triumph of avant-gardes in the 1920s tends to dominate our discussions of the music, art, and literature of the period. But the broader current of modernism encompassed many movements, and one of the most distinct and influential was a turn to classicism.
 
In Classicism of the Twenties, Theodore Ziolkowski offers a compelling account of that movement. Giving equal attention to music, art, and literature, and focusing in particular on the works of Stravinsky, Picasso, and T. S. Eliot, he shows how the turn to classicism manifested itself. In reaction both to the excesses of neoromanticism and early modernism and to the horrors of World War I—and with respectful detachment—artists, writers, and composers adapted themes and forms from the past and tried to imbue their own works with the values of simplicity and order that epitomized earlier classicisms.
 
By identifying elements common to all three arts, and carefully situating classicism within the broader sweep of modernist movements, Ziolkowski presents a refreshingly original view of the cultural life of the 1920s.
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Editorial Reviews

Burton Pike

“‘Classicism’ in the earlier twentieth century has been extensively discussed in reference to individual writers, artists, and musicians, but Ziolkowski, dealing with individual cases from an overarching interdisciplinary and international perspective, has brilliantly expanded its multicultural horizons.”
Virgil Nemoianu

“Ziolkowski convincingly explains how and why classical forms and values persisted obstinately—sometimes flamboyantly—in the very midst of cultural innovation and experiment. At the same time, his erudition and ability to combine concepts create before our eyes the most pleasing and intriguing imagery: colorful, filmlike, even kaleidoscopic. This book will delight and fascinate.”
Scott Burnham

“Ziolkowski presents a remarkable array of writers, artists, and composers, all of whom were keen to take art in new directions after the Great War finally put an end to the long nineteenth century. He usefully defines ‘classicism of the twenties’ as a telling meld of historical appropriation and ironic distance motivated by a war-battered need for order and clarity. This book will serve both as an enticing introduction for the uninitiated and a newly configured map for more experienced travelers.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226183985
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 12/22/2014
  • Pages: 224

Meet the Author


Theodore Ziolkowski is professor emeritus of German and comparative literature at Princeton University. He is the author of Modes of Faith: Secular Surrogates for Lost Religious Belief, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
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