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The Cambridge History of the Gothic The Cambridge History of the Gothic
Volume 3: Gothic in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
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3.2 - Gothic, the Great War and the Rise of Modernism, 1910‒1936

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2021

Catherine Spooner
Affiliation:
Lancaster University
Dale Townshend
Affiliation:
Manchester Metropolitan University
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Summary

This chapter provides a fresh, detailed and historicised account of ‘high’ Modernism and its relationship to the Gothic, c.1910–1936. It explores the various ways in which Modernist theories of the aesthetic – the novel, the short story, Imagist poetry – shaped Gothic Modernist representations. Many Modernists overtly despised dark Romanticism – Wyndham Lewis derided the ‘beastly and ridiculous spirit of Keats’ lines’ and Virginia Woolf was quick to dismiss ‘the skull-headed lady’ of the Gothic Romance. Instead, their work privileges an aesthetics of finitude and inference over any use of overtly supernatural machinery. ‘Modern’ accounts of psychology shape these representations of anxiety and entrapment but so, too, do authorial theories of the aesthetic. By reading the work of a range of important Modernist contributors, including Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, E. M. Forster and May Sinclair, this chapter suggests that the most enduring examples of Modernist Gothic are found in the mode’s representations of haunting, the unconscious and the dead.

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The Cambridge History of the Gothic
Volume 3: Gothic in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries
, pp. 43 - 60
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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