Modernist Literature: Challenging Fictions

Vicki Mahaffey

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook


A study that challenges several fictions (the fiction that reading has little relation to social or political action; the fiction that the transparency of texts is necessarily a good thing) by looking at the challenging fictions of Modernism. The first half of the book examines the social currents and countercurrents of the years from 1890 to 1940, particularly the expansion and contraction of social, intellectual, and expressive freedoms, and outlines the dangers of passively obedient reading. The second half gives examples of the kinds of inventive reading that are fostered by Oscar Wilde, the New Women of the 1890s, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Henry James, T. S. Eliot, Jean Toomer, Djuna Barnes, Jean Rhys, and Samuel Beckett.   The overall aim of the book is to situate “high” modernism firmly and meaningfully in the history of Europe and America of the early twentieth century.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Place of PublicationMalden, MA
Number of pages268
ISBN (Electronic)9780470775721
ISBN (Print)9780631213062, 9780631213079
StatePublished - Jan 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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