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Beginning with a survey of the history and theory of avant- garde art, David Graver critically juxtaposes important competing interpretations of the avant-garde, establishes basic distinctions between forms of avant-garde art, compares the aesthetic interests of the avant- garde to those of modernism, and discusses the relationship between the avant-garde and drama. Then, through close readings of the works of five preeminent avant-garde playwrights and visual artists- Oskar Kokoschka, Gottfried Benn, Raymond Roussel, Roger Vitrac, and Wyndham Lewis- he examines the innovations in dramatic literature carried out by these visionaries and finally relates them to the innovations in theater articulated by Brecht and Artaud. Graver argues that anti-art principles, most noticeable in the confrontational tactics of dada performance, can also be found within literary dramatic texts, where they create an "aesthetics of disturbance" that destabilizes the integrity of the work without allowing it to self-destruct.
"A corrective to the oft-repeated, over-simple idea that anti-art consists of the same destructive gesture repeated in different forms. This is a useful book that fills a gap, both conceptually and in terms of the figures discussed." --Philip Auslander, Georgia Institute of Technology
"Original, important, well- done."--Anthony Kubiak, Harvard University
David Graver is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University.
|List of Illustrations|
|1||Defining the Avant-Garde||1|
|2||Negotiating the Aesthetic Material of Drama||43|
|3||Kokoschka: Disturbing Spectacles||65|
|4||Benn: Staging Impossibilities||93|
|5||Roussel: Objectifying Invention||119|
|6||Vitrac: Confronting Conventions||153|
|7||Lewis: Performing Print||179|
|8||Conclusion: Brecht, Artaud, and the Limits of the Artwork||209|