They hover at an unstable point between one extreme, the author's capture of laughter and reduction of it to literary representations, and the other, its liberation once more from the text through the reader's laughter. Through such means, too, late modernist works dramatized the comic fragility of modernist attempts to contain contingency and violence aesthetically, through literary form. Within the late modernist novel, the formal "lapses" bound to laughter allowed expression of those negative forces of the age that could not be coaxed into any admirable design of words: its violence, madness, absurd contingencies, and sudden deaths.
Late modernist writing thus coheres as a distinctive literary "type" within the historical development of modernist literature, serving as an index of a new dispensation, a growing skepticism about modernist sensibility and craft as means of managing the turbulent forces of the day. Viewed from the narrow perspective of literary form, late modernist writing weakens the relatively strong symbolic forms still evident in high modernist texts.
“Acting the Man”: Wyndham Lewis and the Future of Masculinity
It reopens the modernist enclosure of form onto the work's social and political environs, facilitating its more direct, polemical engagement with topical and popular discourses. These converging historical vectors are powerfully evident in the literary texts of those authors on whom the second part of this study focuses, authors who wrote their primary works of fiction after the modernist "boom" of the early twenties. Emerging in Lewis's The Apes of God and The Childer-mass , in Barnes's Ryder and Nightwood , and in Beckett's More Pricks Than Kicks and Murphy , late modernist fiction took a detour from the high modernist road and consciously struck out on the byways and footpaths where the modernist movement had begun to stray.
I must acknowledge from the outset the problem of inclusion that any such term as "late modernism" entails. Like its parent concepts "modernism" and "postmodernism," the notion of "late modernism" suffers from two notable difficulties. First is the problem of defining its chronological boundaries. Period terms tend to suggest, even when this assumption is not made explicit, an essential correspondence between the "spirit of the age" or, for the historical materialist, the social history of a period and representative works of art.
Modernist works are, in this view, synecdoches of "the modern age"; postmodernist works likewise express the "postmodern condition. And why can we find works that seem "postmodern" in the "modern" age or even earlier? The second problem is related but of even greater practical consequence for the critic: the problem of selection.
What is included by the category, and what is left out? On what basis does the critic select a "representative" canon of "late modernist" works? The selection of a representative canon, I would argue, can never be unassailable, given the selectiveness that haunts even the most careful and detailed exposition of a period.
Moreover, as I have already remarked, I am quite consciously engaging in a labor of critical advocacy, of "making the case" for a body of works, and in that sense, also of trying to establish a canon for which "late modernism" would be a legitimate and illuminating critical and historical designation.
Canons may be either consciously shaped or unconsciously adopted; with respect to the surprisingly stable canon of modernist authors and works, I seek to tip the balance toward a knowing partiality. In turn, my readers will have to judge whether they find compelling the reasons I offer for preferring a "bad new" modernist canon, stood up on still-tottering feet, over a "good old" one, squatly resting on a plinth of tacit beliefs and received ideas.
Lest, however, my attempt to define a distinct late modernist mode and to heighten divisions within the broad field of modernist art and literature appear a mere critical coup-de-main , I will make my claims as clear and explicit as possible. First, the writers I discuss as representative late modernists are directly linked only by loose affiliation. They shared certain common influences, read and published in some of the same or similar journals, and had some friends and associates in common. They do not, however, represent a "movement" in the sense of having self-consciously formulated goals.
Here, it is useful to remember that terms like "modernism," "late modernism," "postmodernism," and so on, are the tools of the historians, professional assigners of labels not always chosen by the original participants. Barry Chabot remarks on the provenance of the term "modernism": " 'Modernism' is not a term equivalent to 'Imagism,' 'Futurism,' 'Surrealism,' 'Vorticism' and the like, which refer to specific schools or movements; instead, it is the term invoked to suggest what such particular and divergent programs have in common.
It is a period concept ; and its use involves the claim that in the end, and whatever their obvious difference, the individual energies of the time possess enough family resemblances that it makes sense to refer to them collectively. It is a construction of the work of analysis, which allows these resemblances to be disclosed and judged. As a historical category, it stands and falls on the persuasiveness with which it helps bring these resemblances to light. Second, as already suggested, literary modernism has a number of divergent tendencies. As Chabot aptly notes, literary modernism "possesses nothing comparable to the Seagram Building" 34 , a clear-cut monument of the modernist aesthetic in architecture.
To speak of a late modernist reaction to modernism, then, requires the prior establishment of just what modernism the late modernists were attacking. In my interpretive chapters, I seek first to discover the process by which the individual writers came to break with modernism as they conceived it. Each had a different position within the broad circles of Anglo-American modernism; each understood "modernism" in somewhat different but nonetheless related ways. I consider the particularity of their reactions to their own individual conception of modernism but with an eye toward the "family resemblances" they share with other late modernists.
Third, I attempt to reveal how the responses of late modernists to modernism, individually inflected as they were, were decisively shaped by common biographical and contextual factors. These commonalities account for the clustering of late modernist works within a limited number of years and justify the use of a periodizing term. Moreover, they legitimate a central aspect of my interpretive procedure: the reading of formal and figurative characteristics as indices of the author's relation to his or her context. Fourth, the late modernist response to modernism is inseparable from its emergence as a historically codified phenomenon.
Modernism had to. By the twenties a canon of modernist authors and evaluative judgments about their works had begun to find general acceptance among critics and even among the general reading public.
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Joseph Conrad, for example, writes in his preface to Under Western Eyes published originally in how the book was a failure with the English public when it first appeared, because of the modernist "detachment" of its narration. He received his "reward," he notes, only six years later, when the events in Russia created a context for his work to be understood and positively reevaluated.
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Lawrence, James Joyce, and Virginia Woolf, among others, a positive and broadly accepted image of the "modern novel" in English emerged at this time. Late modernism makes self-conscious the limits of this model of modernism, centered on what Nicholls calls discursive mastery, and hence forecloses it as a dominant tendency.
This sense of bringing modernism to a close reveals itself, allegorically, in the authors' different handling of literary form and in their works' less unified but more direct response to the historical currents in which they were written and read.
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Fifth, this allegorical significance is available largely in retrospect, to the critic and historian. From a latter-day perspective, individual works of late modernist fiction can be interpreted as allegories of the end of modernism.
While no single work exhaustively defines this historical phase of modernist writing, each represents a radiant fragment of the whole. Moreover, as allegories of the end of modernism, works of late modernism can be interpreted as anticipations of a time after modernism, literally "postmodernism. In the preceding pages, I have attempted to define why the works of the later s and s deserve a second, more systematic look by readers and scholars of modern writing.
I have also made the case for reopening the conceptual pigeonholes into which we have been encour-. But if late modernism is no more than a passageway between these two cages, which otherwise remain closed worlds, it still has relatively little to offer readers of today, outside specialists in the field. If this is so, then a theory of contemporary aesthetics has the task of conceptualizing a dialectical continuation of modernism. I place late modernist writing in the early-twentieth-century context of shifting hierarchies within the arts, intensive development of the mass media, and traumatic events of social and political history—historical trends that were incipient for high modernist writers, yet not so ineluctably part of the "weather" as they would become during the s.
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These developments opened new fault lines in both individual and collective experience, splits that today we have reinhabited but hardly repaired; late modernists laid the foundations for this dangerous way of dwelling. Taking their stand upon the shifting seismic plates of European society between two catastrophic wars, late modernist writers confronted no less an issue than the survival of individual selves in a world of technological culture, mass politics, and shock experience, both on the battlefield and in the cities of the intervening peace. As I will show, these writers perceived as a general state of affairs a kind of all-pervasive, collective, and incurable shell-shock, from which all suffer and which need not have trench experience as its precondition though for many, of course, it did.
Everyone, they suggest, has a bit of the automaton about him or her; it follows from the conditions of history within which we must make our selves, our lives, our cities. The distinction between the vital and the mechanical had become less sharp in the interwar years; the world of things had never seemed more animated, while the question "Does life live?
Yet the late modernist writers also discovered the ethical ground of their work in a seeming imperfection in the process: the arrested state of this movement toward the efficient robot, the failure to complete this mechanization of the body through to its end, the comical inability of humans to consummate the man-machine.
This ethical impulse was inseparable from a kind of bitter comedy. Laughter, itself a kind of spasmodic automatism only marginally distinct from the laughable mechanism of our embodied existence, can help serve to convince us that a self, however minimal, is still there. Rideo ergo sum. The self confirms itself in laughter, persists in the interval between automatism and its comic reflex.
It is within this inescapable comedy that all are compelled to play—this condition in which, as Wyndham Lewis put it, " everyone should be laughed at or else no one should—  that both solidarity and difference must find their future ground. These literary works of late modernism represent the initial, tentative steps in its exploration.
Accordingly, in the chapter that follows, I attempt to provide readers with a broad topographical map of this terrain, this "riant spaciousness," before passing on to examine in detail some of its specific zones and features in the latter half of the book. The First World War, as writers, historians, and other scholars of culture have persuaded us, marked a radical divide in the experience of millions of Europeans, altering forever how they saw themselves, their fellow men and women, and the forms of collective power at once frighteningly remote and dangerously proximate to the most intimate dimensions of life.
Many of the crucial changes brought about by the war impose themselves on the eye, from the large-scale corporate reorganization of the economy and the state to meet the needs of reconstruction, to highly personal shifts in the relations of the sexes and corresponding ideas of masculinity and femininity. Less evident, and hence less well documented, however, is the intricate rhythm with which these changes interacted, reinforcing and canceling one another in sudden volumes and voids over the entire period from the armistice until the full-scale return to war with Dunkirk and the London Blitz.
The influence of the war, much more fluid and fieldlike than is often appreciated, by no means touched only on the traumatized participants in the war effort, nor did it last only through the years of reconstruction, when the home economies and institutions sought to absorb the turbulent force of weary, embittered, shell-shocked armies, whether victorious or defeated. In focusing on the role of trench warfare in shaping "modern memory," Paul Fussell's classic study of war writing brought to light the Great War's subjective logic: the tragic lag in culture that sent young men to war armed with late Victorian conceptions and brought them.
For extreme cases like the trench poet Ivor Gurney, history had lost all boundaries. It was all war, everywhere; he died in in a mental asylum, convinced that the fighting was still going on outside. Late modernism, however, lies both a step back from and a step beyond such extremity, in the tributary channels by which memories and experiences of the war were transmitted from participants to readers and from generation to generation. The passages back to this collective catastrophe are more devious, often interrupted and difficult to retrace. But one key late modernist writer has left a broken but still discernible trail connecting late modernism to its generarive matrix in the years of war: Wyndham Lewis.
For Lewis, the Great War retained its dreadful echo well into the s, when the rising tensions between European nations had once again made mass slaughter present to the imagination of intellectuals and populace alike. It is thus with Lewis's war memoirs, Blasting and Bombardiering , published only two years before Hitler's invasion of Poland, that I begin.
In the introduction to Blasting and Bombardiering , Lewis divides the twentieth century into three historical "segments"—the War, the Post-War, and the post-Post-War: "The War is such a tremendous landmark that locally it imposes itself upon our computations of time like the birth of Christ. We say 'pre-war' and 'post-war,' rather as we say B.
I find a good way of dating after the War is to take the General Strike, , as the next milestone. Then began a period of a new complexion. It was no longer 'post-war. It's just the period we're living in today. As a painter and as the explosive charge behind the journal Blast , Lewis was central to the pre-World War I avant-garde.
Yet the war and its aftermath, he suggests, opened a hiatus in his career. Lewis had gained public notoriety for his vorticist paintings, for Blast , and for his debut novel Tarr first version, I disinterred myself in , the year of the General Strike—but as a philosopher and critic. This was considered very confusing. Although in many ways idiosyncratic, Lewis could in one crucial respect claim to represent a broader current. Older in years and artistic tenure than many writers starting out in the s, Lewis, like them, nonetheless had to begin his career over in the changed circumstances of the "postwar?
Their works became a standard against which others, whether for or against modernist writing, defined themselves. Lewis, who never gained anything like their notoriety, considered himself artistically at least their equal and in many respects their superior. Yet he too found himself, much to his displeasure, in the ranks of those writing in the shadow of Ulysses and The Waste Land. The war and its immediate literary aftermath gave contemporaries the strong impression of a historical turning point, which they interpreted in a number of contradictory ways. In England, for example, widely accepted historicocultural myths emerged: "the old men" who had wantonly sacrificed the younger generation to hold on to power in the boardroom and bedroom; the tragic "death of old England" a pastoral fox-hunting preserve, laid waste by modernity ; and a fatal decline attributed to "the missing generation" of frontline soldiers, England's best-and-brightest having been allegedly killed off in the trenches.
In either case, however, the five years after the end of the war formed a historical parenthesis of sorts, beyond which, as Lewis put it, a "period of a new complexion began. Yet by the late twenties, they had also come to realize that the modernist's goal of a "legendary translation of external life" Baudelaire faced peculiar challenges that their forerunners had not experienced. As the twenties passed, postwar modernists became increasingly aware of the difference between themselves and their now-famous predecessors.
The early period of modernism, from about to , had been especially characterized by two polar extremes. On the one hand, some modernist writers strongly asserted the autonomy of art. The value of works lay in formal originality, which in turn was an index of the individual author's craft, vision, awareness, and labor. On the other hand, the first, heady phase of avant-garde activity had burst onto the scene with cubism, futurism, expressionism, vorticism, and early dadaism.
For all their differences, which they heightened in combat with one another, these groups shared their collective orientation, which in some cases even evolved into a kind of anonymity for individual artists and writers. It is only to the specialist's eye that the differences between the analytic cubist works of Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque appear; likewise, the dadaists relished the polemical negation of individual style in their use of ready-made materials and chance. The tremendous energy of modernism's first phase lay not only in the turbulent force of individual movements and voices but also in the tense interplay between different components of its field, the thrilling sense of a powerful, all-sided development of the arts.
The more the combat within the modernist field escalated, so it seemed, the more productive the arts would become. This fortuitous convergence of forces, however, had serious limits. The enormous heave forward in the arts had been contingent on the rapid transnational communication of ideas and personnel in the years before World War I and on the vigorous assimilation of new technologies and scientific theories in popularized, triumphalist ways. The ritualized belligerence of prewar modernism was rendered more earnest, however, by the bloody national conflict that engulfed Europe.
By the immediate postwar years, the movement had already begun to show signs of drift, neoclassical reaction, and nationalist or provincialist obstacles to new ideas. A cunning dialectic had seized the process of stylistic innovation, confronting the writer with historical limits and threatening to exhaust modernism's dynamic from within.
Following World War I, modernism's resistance to integration by extra-artistic institutions eroded from two sides. Modernist artists were actively challenged by the politicized avant-gardes i. An emblematic encounter is the Berlin dadaists' blisteringly sarcastic attack on the painter Oskar Kokoschka, who had complained that machine-gun fire during the Spartacist uprising in Berlin had damaged a painting gallery.
With their. Both trends—the politicization of the avant-gardes and the devaluation of the traditional arts—impelled artists to rethink their practice and reinvent the functions, forms, and contexts of artworks. The political avant-gardes noisily asserted the duty of artists to intervene—as artistic producers, not private citizens—in social life, while the new media took on a centrality that even the most popular artist had never imagined. Modernism's radical autonomy appeared increasingly fragile, increasingly difficult to sustain, in the face of these new historical pressures.
Even if modernists could disdain or ignore these trends, however, they were faced with another difficulty: a slackening of the critical tension between modernist art forms and modern society. Modernism itself had found a certain scurrilous success, or at least some of its representatives, more or less worthy of the rifle, had achieved popular notoriety. The high calling of art that the modernists professed to follow had fallen prey to fashion and proven susceptible to banalization and vulgarizing imitation.
Wyndham Lewis bitterly satirized the "apes of god" playing at bohemian existence, buying up fashionably humble studios in the artists' quarters at prices far beyond the means of struggling artists. Others, like Djuna Barnes, resorted to stealth and travel to maintain their distinction:. Djuna Barnes, author of Ryder , returned to Montparnasse for a glimpse and fled to Vienna. There is nothing left but a big crowd. As these writers discovered, however, such efforts to preserve a creative island from the vulgar could succeed all too well. Fashion was fickle, but isolation had drawbacks as well—and might last indefinitely.
Late modernist writers were forced to come to terms with this predicament, not merely as the given context in which they worked, but indeed as the conscious point of departure for their art. The detached stance and styl-. Yet the heroism of this gesture, common to modernist writers from Baudelaire to Joyce, had become grimly farcical, as it revealed a social automatism controlling the artist presumably its master. Through the new array of modernist literary techniques, Fredric Jameson has argued, the fractured experience of individual subjects in the age of imperialism could be transformed into the building blocks of formally dazzling works of art.
Yet by transfiguring the private world in this way, such works serve to evade the historical or political situation that lies beyond the rarefied zones of inner feeling and thought: "The perfected poetic apparatus of high modernism represses History just as successfully as the perfected narrative apparatus of high realism did the random heterogeneity of the as yet uncentered subject.
At that point, however, the political, no longer visible in the high modernist texts, any more than in the everyday world of bourgeois life, and relentlessly driven underground by accumulated reification, has at last become a genuine Unconscious. In Conrad's works, he argues, history juts through the very literary forms meant to hold the world of aggravated political struggle at bay. Late modernism, two decades later, once again loosens the modernist dominance of form and allows a more fluid, dialogic relation with the immediate historical context.
It accomplished this unbind-ing of the work at the cost of abandoning the modernist gold standard: form as the universal currency in which aesthetic value could be measured and circulated. Writing politically committed literature represented one obvious and, to many, attractive way for writers to break out of their evident predicament.
For a brief but fascinating period, writers as diverse as W. They allowed these often-contradictory strains to play themselves out in challenging, enduring works of poetry and fiction. Yet despite the general sense of the thirties as a highly politicized decade, many other important writers of the period could not and did not link their writing to the vicissitudes of political engagement. Retrospectively, and especially from the perspective of the postcommunist present, it is necessary to reexamine without prejudice our ideas about this "noncommittal" stance, and above all, as itself being a kind of political choice.
It is possible to see in the. Jones explains that he called his book In Parenthesis because it was written "in a kind of space between—I don't know between quite what—but as you turn aside to do something. Late modernist writers in no way ignored their social context; in fact, they were deeply troubled by their inability to keep it at a manageable distance.
Their literary structures tottered uneasily between vexed acknowledgment and anxious disavowal of social facts, suggesting that their relation to history was far more complex than that of simple "repression. These works are perforated and torn by their relation to history, which is here occulted beneath a dense textual tangle and there exposed in transparent allusion and bald polemic. These writers recognized the demands that the "external" world made on the "homemade" world of their art, yet they lent little credence to the current politico-aesthetic responses.
This lack of credible options, however, left them all the more aware of their nakedness before the social facts. Reflecting on their own practice, they discerned in the evolution of modern writing disturbing changes in the ways in which literature was produced and read. Yet unable to formulate any radical alternative to the modernist legacy within which they continued to work, they labored to tunnel through it, undermining and leaving it behind in a painstaking pursuit of literary "failure"—isolated, furtive, and uncertain of allies.
The decade following World War I saw an unprecedented rationalization of social life in Europe and the United States, the subordination of previously distinct spheres to impersonal or collective aims. Their apparent loss of priority called for a response, for a renegotiated connection of experience and value, for new ways of creating artworks and of living the artist's life. Just after the war, in his well-known address "Science as Vocation," Max Weber confronted the radicalized students' demands for "community" and "personality" and drew the implications for German intellectual life of the American-style rationalization of the university currently in train.
Understood in the context of cultural trends extending beyond the university, his penultimate paragraph sounds peculiarly like a manifesto for high modernism, a refocusing of values on the personal experience and awareness of an individual thinker, obeying "the demon who holds the fibers of his very life":. The fate of our times is characterized by rationalization and intellectualization and, above all, by the 'disenchantment of the world?
Precisely the ultimate and most sublime values have retreated from public life either into the transcendental realm of mystic life or into the brotherliness of direct and personal human relations. It is not accidental that our greatest art is intimate and not monumental, nor is it accidental that today only within the smallest and intimate circles, in personal human situations, in pianissimo , that something is pulsating that corresponds to the prophetic pneuma , which in former times swept through the great communities like a firebrand, welding them together.
If we attempt to force and to "invent" a monumental style in art, such miserable monstrosities are produced as the many monuments of the last twenty years. If one tries intellectually to construe new religions without a new and genuine prophecy, then, in an inner sense, something similar will result, but with still worse effects. An academic prophecy, finally, will create only fanatical sects but never a genuine community. The whole modernist gambit is here in nuce. Weber's ideal producer of culture turns toward the intimate and private as an appropriate—indeed, as the sole appropriate—response to the present social situation, displacing politics onto questions of technique and commitment to.
He rejects any "inauthentic" dialogue of the artist with public trends and projects a merely possible community, now necessarily highly restricted, which would grow out of the "authentic" relation of artist or thinker to his own work in progress. One common tendency among modernist artists was indeed to accept social rationalization as fate. Shortly before he acceded to the directorship of the Bauhaus in , Ludwig Mies van der Rohe concluded an address to the Werkbund in Vienna with the following remarks:.
The new age is a fact; it exists independently of whether we say "yes" or "no" to it. But it is neither better nor worse than any other age. It is purely an established fact and intrinsically indifferent to values. All these things take their preordained and value-blind course. Mies goes on to argue that the problem of values thus becomes crucial and that artists must strive to set new values. Yet in pursuing this goal, in seeking an adequate response to the cold facts of social rationalization, many artists drew different conclusions than did Weber.
Whereas Weber set up the lonely researcher as hero, these artists attempted to relate their work positively to the rationalization process, thus shifting attention away from individual, subjective experience in favor of precise production and representation of objects. A collaboration between the Russian theater director Vsevolod Meyerhold and the artist Lyubov Popova, The Earth in Turmoil , can serve here as an emblematic, if somewhat hyperbolic, example. Popova's stage setting incorporated a number of real objects as props, including "a coffin, a red pall, a small machine gun, bicycles, weapons, a field kitchen, 3 field telephones, one camp bed, one field pack, one large table, maps, z typewriters, z aeroplanes.
Popova employed a three-dimensional screen, a film projector, a film camera, films, slides, and Vertov's landmark film, Kino Pravda. We need them. Nevertheless, they substituted function for expression and affirmed an ethics of work and technique, giving a generally social-democratic and industrial cast to their activities.
At the same time, however, industrial design and other economically lucrative art practices were conduits for aesthetic concerns into the experience of everyday spaces and things. The special place of "art" as an independent domain in society became ever more restricted, as traditional modes of art no longer held the monopoly on aesthetic pleasure. At once the material of the senses and, when industrially produced, also the tangible embodiment of utility and technicity, the world of objects seemed to offer a space in which contradictory demands for rationality and individual experience might be brought to a higher harmony.
For writers—in contrast to designers, graphic artists, architects, typographers, and photographers—the opportunities to intervene directly in the industrial economy or in political life were much more limited, confined for the most part to party propaganda or film work. I should like to draw your attention to the fact that its most recent advance is producing a fundamental crisis of the object.
Only the very close examination of the many recent speculations to which the object has publicly given rise the oneiric object, the object functioning symbolically, the real and virtual object, the moving but silent object, the phantom object, the found object, etc. Yet while this desire to intervene in the world of objects gave rise to some fascinating writing, like Breton's essay-novels Nadja and L'Amour Fou , much of surrealism's artistic practice nonetheless responds in a merely "lyrical" vein to major shifts in the social life of objects:.
I for my part believe today in the possibility and the great interest of the experiment that consists of incorporating objects, ordinary or not, within a poem, or more exactly of composing a poem in which visual elements take their place between the words without ever duplicating them. It seems to me that the reader-spectator may receive quite a novel sensation, one that is exceptionally disturbing and complex, as a result of the play of words with these elements, nameable or not.
As Henri Lefebvre observes about the surrealists, "Their purely verbal metamorphosis, anamorphosis or anaphorization of the relationship between 'subjects' people and things the realm of everyday life overloaded meaning—and changed nothing. While these works transgress the traditional boundaries between the visual and discursive arts, they were in fact vastly outstripped by similar transgressions in industrially produced objects of consumption, publicity, or mass culture from this period a situation not lost on Marcel Duchamp already two decades earlier, or on Breton's contemporary and admirer, Walter Benjamin.
Franco Moretti has noted the crisis literature faced in the new force field of culture that emerged with undeniable intensity in the s and s: "At the beginning of this century what is probably the most exemplary artistic form of bourgeois civilization—written literature—. That does not mean that he cannot help to bring the new society into being, but he can take no part in the process as a writer.
For as a writer he is a liberal, and what is happening is the destruction of liberalism. Lewis too captured the impossible paradox of this position with the last line of his satiric novel The Childermass. In the spirit world of the wartime dead, Pullman tells his comrade Satters: "Pick your feet up. If you must go nowhere, step out. A crucial locus of rationalization, and the foremost instance of the "system of objects,"  both impersonal and intensely stimulating, was the metropolis. I utilize this term in a specific sense, derived from Georg Simmel's fundamental essay "Metropolis and Mental Life" In Simmel's view, the metropolis is not just a big city.
It is a big city in which bigness has taken on a functional character, in which the intricacy of functional interconnections within the city has generated a new sort of agency or subject. Simmel writes: "A man does not end with the boundaries of his body or the vicinity that he immediately fills with his activity, but only with the sum of effects that extend from him in time and space: so 'too a city consists first in the totality of its effects that extend beyond its immediacy.
And for Simmel, one of the most important domains in which this effective character can be detected is in the psychic life of city dwellers: a modification of the nervous organism in accordance with the objectivized Geist of big city life. When the Geist abandons the simple and direct relations of production, it no longer creates the city but the Metropolis.
It is the Geist , not the individual, that of necessity inhabits the Metropolis. The great capitals of modernity—Berlin, Paris, Vienna, London, New York, and, newly, Los Angeles—with their passion and misery, their dispossession of individuals and promise of collective fulfillment, their technological rationality and social atavism, their embodiment of history and remorseless "forgetting" of the events that transpired in them, seemed to exemplify the condition that confronted the later modernist.
This condition was, however, rarely accessible in any fully thematized or transparent way to the writer. The diagnostic role and its modulation into the prophetic was, as Lewis's Rend Harding Self-Condemned or Barnes's Matthew O'Connor Ryder and Nightwood would testify, a dubious and potentially self-condemning part to have to play. As consciousness took collective shape in the metropolis, and individual subjectivity was triumphantly pulverized, it became increasingly difficult for authors to achieve some sort of synoptic vision, to discover some place from which to narrate the whole.
While accepting a certain inevitability to the erosion of individual subjectivity, later modernist writers viewed it with considerable ambivalence, verging at times on despair. Indeed, they doubted that the process of metropolitanization could give rise to a stable, abstractly rational, collective subject. The consummate rationalization of culture in the present form of the metropolis was for them an unrealizable utopia: the process held within its dynamics its own limit, an inextinguishable trace of irrationality that would expand precisely with the progress of the ratio.
The Austrian novelist Hermann Broch summed up the pessimism of many of his contemporaries when he wrote: "The highly developed rationality of modern metropolitan culture does not at all mitigate the human twilight, rather it intensifies it. The accepted ratio becomes a mere means for the satisfaction of drives and thus is robbed of its content as knowledge of the whole.
This irrational subjective residue was a kind of "accursed share" left over by the structures of social rationality. Again, the surrealists were particularly self-conscious in strategically revaluing this debris of the social system as a protest against the values of work, technicity, and mechanical efficiency. Indeed, as lean Baudrillard suggests, the surrealist image is hardly thinkable without its complementary opposite, the functional object of industrial design: "The Surrealist object emerges at the same epoch as the functional object, as its derision and transgression.
Although they are overtly dys- or para-functional, these phantasmatic objects nevertheless presuppose. In the marked escalation of social conflict and political violence, a violence that ultimately gained institutional legitimacy in the National Socialist and other fascist regimes, they witnessed a veritable irruption of collective irrationality concentrated in the cities.
In one section, he described the fate of modernism's drive to produce the new. No longer confined to the autonomous sphere of art, the dynamic of modernism had, in Adorno's view, emerged as a general social principle. It had been taken up extra-aesthetically in large-scale social dynamics like warfare, in which the arms race compelled an accelerated pace of technological innovation.
Likewise, previously extra-aesthetic social spheres like labor and politics were now shaped by aesthetic demands for beauty, intensity, and newness. Adorno situated the problem of modernism within the category of the "New," which dictates a perpetual renewal of its object while at the same time remaining essentially indeterminate, indifferent to the concrete content that may temporarily fulfill it.
For Adorno, this ambiguous status of newness gives aesthetic modernism, which adopts novelty as a primary source of value, its compulsive character: "Baudelaire's poetry. As phantasmagoric as these lights is the idea of newness itself. What flashes thus, while serene contemplation now attains merely the socially pre-formed plaster-cast of things, is itself repetition.
The new, sought for its own sake,. Adorno refers to an increasingly general, collective search for newness, which realizes in unanticipated ways the aesthetic-political goal of the early avant-garde to "democratize perception" Mina Loy and open art out into social life. He suggests that tendencies already present in Baudelaire's and Richard Wagner's publicistic activities have, at this late date, come to fruition.
The decomposition of the subject is consummated in his self-abandonment to an ever-changing sameness. Implied in Adorno's formula is a historiographic hypothesis: the new war World War II , precisely in its newness, is a recurrence brought about by the persistence of the trauma of the old one.
The manifest "newness" of the present conflict, Adorno suggests, depends on a traumatic destruction of experience that allows the same to recur as if it were really new:. Just as the war lacks continuity, history, an "epic" element, but seems rather to start anew from the beginning in each phase, so it will leave behind no permanent, unconsciously preserved image in the memory. Everywhere, with each explosion, it has breached the barrier against stimuli beneath which experience.
But nothing, perhaps, is more ominous for the future than the fact that, quite literally, these things will soon be past thinking on, for each trauma of the returning combatants, each shock not inwardly absorbed, is a ferment of future destruction. Adorno adapts for his social-psychological reflections the model of consciousness that Sigmund Freud developed in Beyond the Pleasure Principle , a model explicitly designed to explain the compulsive repetition of traumatic dreams among shell-shocked veterans of World War I.
Adorno implies that the entre-deux-guerres period is, in a sense, one long bout of war neurosis, in which the effects of trauma have proliferated in a general contagion. Whether or not this is acceptable as social analysis, Adorno's intuition was shared by many writers and thinkers of the period, that the traumas of the s and s, which culminated in World War II, were somehow an immanent unfolding of an original, unassimilable disaster, the Great War.
Adorno's diagnosis of a kind of collective shell shock or, more generally, a pervasive neurasthenia in the face of a runaway modernity, is of the greatest interest for understanding the emergence of late modernism after Explicit in the extensive theoretical writings of Wyndham Lewis and the occasional criticism of Djuna Barnes and Samuel Beckett, as well as implicit in the fictional works of all three authors, is the vision of a general depersonalization and deauthentication of life in modern society.
Such generalized mimetism was at once an involuntary process for individuals, a compulsory lowering of the threshold of difference between subjects and objects, their unconscious assimilation to an objective environment—and a social phenomenon consciously manipulable for political and commercial ends for the art , as Lewis's book title put it, of"being ruled".
Late modernism, as it emerged in the late twenties and thirties, both reflected and reflected critically upon this loss of a stable, authentic social ground. As might be expected, given his commitment to theoretical and political thinking, Lewis explored this process most explicitly and extensively. Already in his essay from , The Dithyrambic Spectator , and his treatise, The Art of Being Ruled , Lewis had advanced his privileged image for the mimetic contamination of subject and object: the bringing of spectators onto the stage.
This image, as Lewis employs it, is not so much a metaphor as the focal pivot of a broad social panorama: the influx of "life" into the theatrical spectacle signifies reflexively the outflow of "theater" into political, cultural, and sexual life. The boundaries of art dissolve in ritualized, aestheticized social practices: "Very rapidly the banks of spectators turn into a great assembly of 'amateurs' once more. Then it is that the phase left out by Miss [Jane] Harrison occurs: that namely in which a collective 'play' is engaged in, in which no 'real' or 'practical' issues are involved.
So we see the simultaneous disappearance of the author and of the actor , to all intents and purposes" AOBR , Lewis views this perilous breakdown of distinction—between subject and object, between spectator and spectacle, between producer and consumer—and the subsumption of art into everyday life as expressed integrally in both social revolution Lewis criticizes. The centrality of this analysis to Lewis's overall critique of modernism cannot be overestimated: it informs in equal part his expostulations against his modernist colleagues in "The Revolutionary Simpleton" section of Time and Western Man and his criticisms of surrealism in The Diabolical Principle , his polemic against transition's Joyce-affiliated editors.
An artist who is not a mere entertainer and money-maker, or self-advertising gossip-star, must today be penetrated by a sense of the great discontinuity of our destiny. At every moment he is compelled to be aware of that different scene. Nothing but a sort of Facade is left standing. It is what is behind the Facade that alone can be of any interest in such a pantomime. Ultimately, Lewis concludes that this flattening of the present into a scenario, with the past as its stage properties, is the beginning of generalized "play": "it is the end of history, and the beginning of historical pageant and play.
But we are all compelled, to some extent, to enter into the spirit of the comedy—that is the humble message of this book. I want to suggest here and later demonstrate in greater detail that a similar vision of a nascent "society of the spectacle" animates the literary thinking of Barnes and Beckett.
In their fiction, the social analysis remains more immanent, embedded in formal and imagistic aspects rather than being discursively manifest. But in their scattered criticism of this period, even Barnes and Beckett reveal a concern with the contemporary "derealization" of reality, its progressive replacement with simulacra and spectacles.
Thus, in an article in the December Theatre Guild , Barnes dons a prophetic mask to pose the question, "Why Actors? She writes: "Because I am a holy man. I have seen many sorrowful things. Men wanting to be Napoleon, and women wanting to be Helen of Troy, and little children. Therefore this passion in the human heart to be something it is not, is no secret to me, yet it troubles me, for I am not sure if it is true aspiration or a terrible and unholy criticism of the Most High, and this I must know, for I myself have wanted to be other than I am.
In his survey "Recent Irish Poetry" he thus speaks of "the breakdown of the object, whether current, historical, mythical or spook," and a "breakdown of the subject,"  while in a review of the Irish playwright Sean O'Casey he refers to a "dramatic dehiscence, mind and world come asunder in irreparable dissociation. Beckctt's "dramatic dehiscence" and Lewis's "disappearance of the spectator" point to a shared sense that their contemporary reality—both subjective and objective—was somehow becoming "less real.
The outer world—of crowded streets, of department stores, of movie houses, of political rallies—had taken on fantastic, aestheticized shapes once found only in dreams, paintings, or fiction. The inner life, in contrast, had appropriated the object-world in which people lived and moved, now taking the shape of a city street, later of a shop window, then perhaps of a cinema or a fascist parade. For once the stable line between subject and object began to lose its sharpness, thickening and breaking apart in complex rhythms, a whole series of precepts central to earlier modernism had to be rethought.
The heroic subjectivity of the innovating artist; the organic convergence of form and content in a symbolic unity set down by the artist on paper, on canvas, in stone; the exhibition of stylistic mastery as a criterion of value; the belief in an underlying mythic or aesthetic order to history; and the possibility of redeeming tradition through its transfiguration into art—all these basic tenets of modernism's aesthetic ideology were put in doubt by the object's new dispensation, at least for those artists willing to extend their uneasy intuitions to their practice.
Since I have argued for the historically situated nature of late modernism, it is appropriate to approach a definition by considering a work of the period in question. In his book Men Without Art , Wyndham Lewis offers an extended explanation and justification of his own writing as defined against several of his contemporaries.
It is this text, then, that will provide my point of departure for a more specific depiction of late modernism's physiognomic traits. Lewis begins his exposition by noting the problem of his own situation as an artist: "I am a satirist. But I am not a moralist. Lewis notes that traditionally the satirist needed the moral sanction of the community to do what he does: launch satirical attacks and provoke laughter.
Yet Lewis believes that shared moral values have evaporated and feels no moral solidarity with others. He is forced, under these circumstances, to consider the possibility of "nonethical satire," " 'satire' for its own sake," to justify his own case. What is notable in Lewis's discussion is his intense self-consciousness about his own lack of determinate social location.
As an artist, his identification with a community, the Rebel Arts group or the vorticists or even the "men of ," was a thing of the past. His attacks on his former colleagues in Time and Western Man and on the Sitwell and Blooms-bury coteries in The Apes of God had severed whatever links remained. He was no less clear about the impossibility of his "situation" in the political domain, to which, in fact, his views on "nonethical satire" represented a practical response as did, in another vein, his ambivalent embrace of fascism.
Thus, in his autobiography, Blasting and Bombardiering , Lewis wrote: "Nineteen-thirty-seven is a grand year. We are all in the melting pot. I resist the process of melting so have a very lively time of it. I know if I let myself melt I should get mixed up with all sorts of people I would sooner be dead than mixed into. But that's the only sense in which I'm conservative. It's myself I want to conserve. I wouldn't lift a finger to conserve any 'conservative' institution.
I think they ought to be liquidated without any exception at all. The identity of such a threatened subject is guaranteed, in the last instance, by its discreteness and self-continuity—qualities symbolized above all by the integrity of the individual body. As Lewis's chapter "The Piecemealing of the Personality" in The Art of Being Ruled suggests, he thus conceives the primary threat to the subject to be dismemberment a thinly metaphorical fate that Lewis often renders literal in his fictional works, through scenes of decapitation and other bodily violence :  "Continuity, in the individual as in the race, is the diagnostic of a civilized condition.
If you can break this personal continuity in an individual, you can break him. For he is that continuity. It is against these joints and sutures of the personality that an able attack will always be directed" AOBR, Yet satire, in its scurrilous abuse of grotesques and "puppets" a prominent word in Lewis's satiric lexicon , discloses precisely the vulnerability of everyone to such attack on the "integrity" of body and of person:. After all, the girl who is prowling through the castle in the middle of the night has suffered emotional distress and personal disappointment of various kinds.
But still she thinks that the dark, gothic chamber will offer her some kind of satisfaction, some thrill of discovery. That the thrill becomes physical, that the cold white figure, follows, chases her, places its hand on hers, gives the scene a peculiar power that earns it a place among the other gothic novels I am discussing.
Amanda was drawn to the chapel as a way of discovering something about her lost mother. Instead, she confronts a ghostly unknown presence that clasps her with an icy grip. An almost direct reversal of the kindly embraces that Amanda experiences with Sister Mary, this icy hand reminds her that the religious sublime can be anything but consoling. Here she must confront her deepest fears. The terms of subjectivity here are based on a lost female-female bond. That it is recovered through the offices of a nun after prowling through a chapel in a mood of religious intensity now makes perfect sense.
William Henry Ireland returns to the extremes of Lewis. The most conspicuous figure was that of the Virgin, in massive silver, supporting on her left arm the Infant Redeemer, and, in her right hand, holding a small sphere of gold, said to contain three drops of her precious milk. Her head was encircled with a rich diadem of immense value, and her neck decorated with a string of diamonds, from which hung pendant a cross of gold, valuable only as containing a piece of the true Cross. Benignity, meekness, patience, and charity, such heaven-kissing attributes, were not the inmates of her breast.
No—pride, cruelty, malice, and revenge; such were the passions that feigned triumphant over her mind. This classic anti-religious tirade is conventional enough in its terms. The beautiful exterior hides a mean, even vicious, interior. Rather than prohibiting transgressive behaviour, the habit allows her license to indulge her carnal appetites in ways that a non-religious woman never could. The Abbess is not alone in her nefarious practices within the walls of the convent.
When the young and handsome Conte Marcello Porta has found himself attracted to a young boarder, he is accosted by a monk, Padre Ubaldo, who promises to lead him to a private assignation with the girl. Ireland describes the midnight meeting of these two men and their progress through the gloomy vaults of the convent, and then, in an almost gratuitous aside, he mentions this simple scene of religious excess:.
They proceeded to the passage; at the entrance of which, within a niche, rested a stone figure of the Virgin. The Monk placed the lamp on the ground, and, having bared his left shoulder, knelt before the image and seemed to offer up a prayer; then, loosening the knotted rope that girded his loins, struck himself several times with violence—the Conte turned from the sight with disgust.
The Monk arose, and, having replaced his vestment, proceeded up the passage. This odd scene of religious masochism serves no purpose but to underline the villainy of the monk and to remind readers that religious devotion and sexual excess are often one and the same. This abuse of devotion, this exaggerated and almost histrionic posturing, disgusts Marcello because his devotion is pure and unsullied.
It is unclear why the monk performs this self-abuse in front of Marcello, unless of course he is hoping to involve Marcello in some sado-masochistic fantasy—or rather, unless he is trying to involve him in a sado-masochistic fantasy with himself instead of the one he is supposed to be involving him in, with the Abbess.
After all, in dark and secret convent passages like these, anything is possible. Same-sex transgressive behaviour is as likely as more likely than, really the male-female encounter that awaits Marcello here. Besides, this novel makes it clear that desire is always compromised, always excessive, and that devotion by its very nature is excessive and disgusting. The young boarder, Maddalena Rosa, is the daughter of the Duca Bertocci, who put her in the convent when his wife died.
As she slept, a vision floated before her fancy. She thought, that she again saw the amiable stranger in the church. His air was dignified, and he seemed more interesting, if possible, than when she had first beheld him. Suddenly, the grate which separated them mouldered away. He flew towards her, and knelt at her feet. At that instant, Maddalena imagined some one held her arm; turning, she thought the ghastly and forbidding figure of Padre Ubaldo stood at her side.
The youth then vanished, and in his place stood the Madre Vittoria. Rage marked every feature: in her uplifted hand she grasped a naked poignard. The implicit suggestion of sexual attraction and its always already transgressive potential gives urgency to the dream. In other words, the erotic embrace with Marcello immediately gives way to both monkish compulsion and Abbessian domination.
Gothic narrative depends on such easy associations, and here the context of the church and the threat of the religious figures make Maddalena a more exquisite victim than her social position would suggest. Ireland is using the freedom of dream narrative to suggest at once illicit desire, jealousy, and compulsion. His version of the convent, that is, spells out in detail an entire range of transgressive potential. As the dream continues, Ireland articulates the other, more familiar aspect of convent life, which Radcliffe and Roche have both emphasized: the nurturing of friendship and the possibility of intimacy between two girls who share the fate of convent life.
Here again that possibility is written out as loss. It seems that Maddalena is forced to endure these hardships alone:. The form of her friend Marietta, pale and emaciated, then glided before her. Casting on her a look of ineffable pity, she disappeared; and suddenly the scene faded before her. She found herself in a spacious apartment, the walls of which were hung with black velvet, and in the middle stood a bier.
Maddalena thought she surveyed the chamber, but no one was present; and she then proceeded to view the face of the deceased. She advanced to the spot where the coffin rested; but, as she bent over, and raised the pall, the earth opened and received it. A female figure glided along, who, smiling, seemed to approach her. It was again the nun Marietta. Maddalena thought she flew to meet her; but the figure changed to that of a handsome youth.
She eyed him with attention, but could not recollect him. He clasped her to his breast in transport, and, at that moment, Maddalena awoke. Maddelana dreams that she loses her friend Marietta in death. It may be that she understands that this tender intimacy will be sacrificed to heteronormative narrative because when she flies to meet her friend, the handsome youth steps in her place. This shift in erotic object begins to suggest an erotic intimacy between the two women, an intimacy that the convent setting encourages. In an odd reversal of the situation in the first part of the dream, where the Abbess replaces the lover, here the lover replaces the friend.
Pointedly, almost insistently, Maddalena remains the subject of loss in this scene, and she can hardly remember the handsome Marcello. When he grabs her, she awakes. He breaks the spell of the dream—the spell of sisterly erotic love in a convent setting, that is—and pulls her back into the reality around her. The scene in which Marcello makes love to the Abbess, Victoria Bracciano, is an embarrassment of sexually suggestive description:. At that moment, her beautiful hand pressed that of the Conte. What a delicious thrill ran through his feverish veins! Imagine fingers pulpy, round, and taper, each joint of which was an opening rose-bud; and, to complete the picture, add nails long and beautifully formed, at the extremity of which appeared a tinge of the carnation [.
This description continues in painstaking physical detail, and each fetishized body part adds to the erotic and transgressive qualities of the scene. That this is a nun who is being physically described and erotically coded, of course, only adds to the narrative thrill. The scene builds to a crescendo when she at last removes her veil and the Conte realizes that he has been caressing the wrong woman.
This violent response leads to misery upon misery for the heroine, and the Conte himself is consigned to endless searching and pleading for his now sequestered love. At the same time, though, because we are looking for ways that religion and sexuality are played out in terms of one another, a novel like this can be especially revealing. Both Marietta and Giancinta share deeply personal moments with Maddalena.
It was the gift of my mother [. Keep it, Maddalena, in remembrance of me. This intimate promise, sealed soon after with a kiss on the lips, suggests that Marietta is willing to haunt Maddalena, and that she feels her love is strong enough to cross from the world of the dead to that of the living. To make this promise she uses a crucifix that she has worn on her breast. This tiny, precious, fetishized religious object gives their love a kind of holiness, and this sacrilegious promise takes on the quality of a religious vow.
For these two inhabitants of the convent, this language may be all that is available to them; but at the same time, they can use religion to justify even these muted expressions of same-sex love. If the convent offers a perversion of maternal love and the victimization of innocence, the prisons of the Inquisition, into which Marcello and Maddalena are ushered at the moment when her father seems ready to relent, offer a higher register of lurid sexual excess.
To the English imagination, the Inquisition represents the perverse extreme to which religion and law can tend in the Catholic setting. The religio-political institutionalization of sadomasochistic pleasure within the prisons of the Inquisition is a regular feature in gothic fiction from The Monk to Melmoth the Wanderer , and beyond. Ireland takes pleasure in dilating on the fevered imaginings of his incarcerated hero and heroine. He makes sure that the terms of these fantasies are not ignored. The Conte, for instance, wanders in his dreams through scenes of sadistic excess:. Again he slumbers—the horrid scene continues—he strives in vain to render her assistance—now, he is habited as a criminal, in the Act of Faith, he approaches the faggot—Maddalena Rosa is already chained to the stake—now, the ardent flames consume her garments—her beauteous hair now blazes—her flesh is scorched—her limbs wreathe in anguish—she cries for mercy—he hears her shrieks—again he wakes—the piercing cry still vibrates in his ear.
This erotic fantasy brings various gothic obsessions together. The Inquisition is a useful trope for religio-political violence, and when it is coupled with the excessively victimized female, as it is here, it begins to suggest the ways in which such dominant fictions work in private fantasy. Ireland uses these materials to write such an overheated passage, I would argue, because they are connected in the English imagination to sexual license and sadomasochistic pleasure. As the last volume of the novel develops, both characters are tormented by the sadistic inquisitors in quasi-pornographic terms.
Marcello is tortured because he will not break his vow and explain what he was doing in the convent after hours. Cords encircled his wrists, which were then passed through pullies. The officials drew the ropes, and the Conte was suspended by his hands to the ceiling. During this interval, a ponderous mass of lead was attached to his ankles [. During this torture, the question was repeatedly posed; but the Conte maintained a resolute silence.
In an instant, the rope was slackened, and he came with violence to the pavement. The sudden jerk dislocated every joint: the torment was too acute, and an agonized groan escaped his lips. With this detailed description of physical torture, more elaborately detailed than similar scenes in The Monk or Melmoth the Wanderer , Ireland seems to take pleasure in the image of the stripped and suffering male. By taking such care with description, he eroticizes the broken male body, just as Radcliffe and Dacre do.
He pushes the familiar image of the wounded castrated gothic hero to an extreme: stretching him on the rack and jerking him suddenly to earth. He torments him with physical torture and insists on outlining the details of that torture for the reader. Often such a fate is only imagined in gothic fiction.
Groans and muffled beatings are common. But in this case, the reader is forced to watch as the hero is tied and stretched and indeed almost dismembered. Like his contemporary the Marquis de Sade, in other words, Ireland takes pleasure in presenting the suffering male form. The notion of the Inquisition, in other words, enables Ireland to bring all these concerns together in this single image. When Maddalena is brought forward for similar treatment, the effect is strikingly different.
Ireland uses this moment to present the reader with a stripped and supplicating female character, and once again the sadomasochistic intentions are palpable. The hand covering her naked breast also suggests vulnerability and tenderness. But the other images here—the alabastrine bosom and the cold and polished surface of marble, with which her cheeks are compared—suggest cold rigidity and polished smoothness.
For all the pain and supplication apparent in the pose, there is also a rock-like hardness to her stance that even the threat of torture cannot pierce. If he is weak and broken by the torture he has experienced, then she is strong, strong enough to preserve them both and their honour as well.
In a classic gothic reversal, he must take strength from her, and she must inspire the courage that she can alone respect. Maddalena becomes a slightly sadistic figure here herself, chiding her hero for his weakness and giving him an example of greater strength and greater ability to withstand suffering. Like the Abbess, in other words, Maddalena knows what it means to be a woman in this culture that fixates on the power and sensibility of the male. Later, their pain is rewarded. The suffering hero and heroine are vindicated, and the true villains of the piece are exposed.
Padre Ubaldo and his accomplice are condemned to death at the stake, and the Abbess herself is condemned to a physically and emotionally degrading series of penances. She faces exposure and ridicule both in her convent and in the streets of Rome. Sometimes, she cursed herself for having yielded to the agonies of the moment, and divulged her crime.
Her bold and transgressive defiance of laws both human and divine here redound on her head. This scene of reflection, this dramatization of inner torment, compares interestingly to the scenes of physical torture. Because they are always already victims in this gothic tale, Marcella and Maddalena suffer less at the hands of the Inquisitors than the proud and imperious Abbess does here.
Her physical, sexual indulgences will come back to haunt her as she stands in shame before her fellow nuns. The body that was so vividly eroticized earlier now becomes the sign of misery and self-contempt. This is not nearly as powerful as the frantic outbursts quoted earlier. It is so muted as to be meaningless in narrative terms. The domestic arrangements have less power here than the excessive physical and emotional torment of the Inquisition.
The religious valence of the scenes of torment—several of the tormentors turn out to be duplicitous monks seeking vengeance—renders them more thrillingly transgressive than anything that happens at the Bertocci palace. As in the other novels I have considered, the resolution is incapable of containing the power that the plot has generated in scenes of religious excess. If I conclude with the disappointments of the domestic resolutions of gothic novels, I do so in part because the sanctioned union of a man and a woman is not the central concern of gothic.
Family does of course function importantly in gothic fiction; just think of the centrality of incest and other dysfunctional family tropes in every gothic novel. But remember, too, that family transgressions are often expressed in religious terms: Matilda is murdered by her father in a chapel; Ambrosio is a monk and a confessor when he commits incestuous matricide; transgressing nuns and priests either turn out to be lost family members, as in The Romance of the Forest , or avenging family enemies, as in The Abbess.
In general, the Mediterranean, Catholic setting allows narrative licence that makes transgression the rule rather than the exception. Looking more closely at these works exposes an association between Catholicism and transgressive sexuality so deeply felt as to be almost invisible. By making it visible, I hope I have begun to explain what this association accomplished culturally. Rather than discussing sex in an open and possibly dangerous way, the possibilities of sexual experience could be coded into these exotic narratives, disguised by time and space into a culture that was understood to be transgressive by definition.
The possibilities for expression were therefore endless. Catholicism is not a vague feature of the background in most gothic novels; it is, rather, an active element in the romance of personal relations. If I have hinted at how gothic fiction queers religion in this essay, then I hope I have also showed ways in which Catholicism offered a licence for proto-sexological experimentation as well.
The horrors of Catholicism, that is, play a more active role in the history of sexuality than has previously been acknowledged. Dream states, drug states, and states of intoxication have always been prevalent in the Gothic novel because repressed thoughts can surface in them; under their influence inhibitions are minimized, and thus the scope of consciousness widened. As I argue in the pages that follow, gothic fiction also dramatizes the surfacing or repressed thoughts and repressed behaviours.
Kertbeny published in Leipzig, some months apart, two anonymous pamphlets which took the form of open letters to the Prussian minister of justice, and it was in these two texts that the word homosexuality made its historic debut. Kertbeny argued that a number of great men had been homosexual, that the condition was innate, not acquired, and that it was therefore pointless to criminalize it. This is not the last moment in the history of sexuality when such a connection is possible.
How does the Church make its fascination palpable? Inevitably, the answer is through language, through the symbol, through the brilliant lie that is great art. I have discussed the details of this novel elsewhere. He finds something to complain about in the handling of the Bible, but never mentions an injustice to monks, nuns, or Catholics in general. This quotation from Bishop Sherlock was used on the title page of the popular Appeal from the Protestant Association to the People of Great Britain The classic statement of this horror is that expressed by Edmund Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France Showing the fruits of his sustained daily engagement with ancient artifacts and texts, History is a compendium of numerous individual artworks, placing them in the service of aesthetic, art-historical and cultural observation and theorization.
In a novel like Peregrine Pickle , Smollett is more specific about the dangers of Italian love. See my Men in Love If Hitchcock only begins to suggest an answer to this question, he also makes it clear that the question is not as simple as it sounds. See also Mary Muriel Tarr. The latter description best fits the work under consideration here. On this point, see my Unnatural Affections ; Clery suggests that Schedoni is not as formulaic a character as some of his predecessors.