The Old Moderns: New Essays on Literature and Theory

The Old Moderns: New Essays on Literature and Theory

by Denis Donoghue

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
There are as many versions of modernism as there are critics, asserts Donoghue, distinguished literary critic and English professor at New York University. One common ground linking modernist writers, in his view, is their mistrust of mass society and their experience of city life as fragmentary and uprooted. That theme loosely holds together this miscellany of 17 astute scholarly essays and lectures. Donoghue shuttles handily between such writers as Poe, Wordsworth, Joyce, Eliot, Yeats, Wallace Stevens and Henry James, and engages in critical polemics with the theories of Lionel Trilling, R. P. Blackmur, Walter Benjamin, Michel Foucault and Matthew Arnold. In two essays, he defends Eliot against those who disparage his literary output as the work of an authoritarian social critic. Elsewhere Donoghue discusses the influence of Nietzsche and Pound on Yeats, the art of translation, and the injection of the politics of the right or left into literary criticism. Reader's Subscription alternate selection. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Donoghue (English and American literature, New York Univ.) regards Modernism as a response to the growth of the city and the crowd, causing the artist to turn inward. He considers Stevens, Yeats, and Eliot to be the exemplars among modern poets and in various essays gives luminous discussions of their work. Donoghue's Catholic humanism is concerned with the place of ethics and justice in the making and reading of literature. In the section on theory, he sifts through views of theory and literary interpretation. His discussion of Henry James is a model of insight and precision, while the description of theorist Richard Blackmur's critical ability mirrors Donoghue's own method. In a seemingly effortless style, Donoghue has written a fine and encouraging book. Recommended for literature collections.-- Gene Shaw, NYPL

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Knopf Publishing Group
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1st ed

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