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Legitimizing the Artist

Legitimizing the Artist: Manifesto Writing and European Modernism 1885-1915

Luca Somigli
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 304
  • Book Info
    Legitimizing the Artist
    Book Description:

    In this work Luca Somigli discusses several European artistic movements - decadentism, Italian futurism, vorticism, and imagism - and argues for the centrality of the works of F.T. Marinetti in the transition from afin de siécledecadent poetics, exemplified by the manifestoes of Anatole Baju, to a properly avant-garde project.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-2106-0
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Art & Art History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-2)
  4. Introduction: The Artist in Modernity
    (pp. 3-28)

    ‘Il faut être absolutement moderne’: few sentences in the history of literature seem to have the prophetic and injunctive force of Arthur Rimbaud’s famous dictum, so often invoked as the emblem of the literature that by breaking with the conventions of Romanticism, opens up the space of what is labelled – precisely – as ‘modern.’ But is Rimbaud’s pronouncement to be read merely as an exhortation, or does it not also carry a more problematic – even foreboding – inflection that might rather recall its apparent opposite, Alexander Pope’s admonition ‘Moderns, beware’?¹ In other words, isn’t the sense of obligation that‘il faut’carries...

  5. Chapter One Strategies of Legitimation: The Manifesto from Politics to Aesthetics
    (pp. 29-92)

    ‘L’etimologia,’ Alberto Savinio writes inDico a te, Clio(74), ‘è la sirena degli animi semplici’ [etymology is the siren of simple souls]. Without completely falling prey to its enchantments or accepting too uncritically its suggestions, we can take an examination of the origins of the word ‘manifesto’ as a useful starting point for the historical reconstruction to be articulated in the first part of this chapter. As most dictionaries agree, the word ‘manifesto’ likely derives from the Latin adjectivemanifestus, frommanus[hand], and a conjectural adjective*festus, related to the root*fend¬re(cf. Latinof-fend¬reorde-fend¬re), and...

  6. Chapter Two A Poetics of Modernity: Futurism as the Overturning of Aestheticism
    (pp. 93-161)

    On 20 February 1909 the Parisian dailyLe Figaropublished on its front page a three-column piece by Filippo Tommaso Marinetti that was destined to become one of the central documents of the avant-garde: the manifesto best known by its Italian title, ‘Fondazione e manifesto del futurismo,’ but which on its first appearance carried the much more sober headline, ‘Le Futurisme.’¹ It was preceded by an editorial note that questioned its supposedly disruptive potential: ‘LeFigaroqui a déjà servi de tribune à plusieurs d’entre elles [literary schools], et non des moindres,’ says the jaded editorialist, ‘offre aujourd’hui à ses...

  7. Chapter Three Anarchists and Scientists: Futurism in England and the Formation of Imagism
    (pp. 162-216)

    One of the features that distinguishes futurism fromfin-de-siècleavant-garde movements such as symbolism anddécadismeis its totalizing hubris. This is exemplified not only by its attempt to construct a movement that would simultaneously unify the different domains of cultural production and imbricate in a complex network of relations the disparate experiences of artists in Italy, but, above all, by the missionary zeal with which Marinetti and his associates propagandized futurism throughout the continent – an enthusiasm which earned the futurist leader the nickname ‘Caffeine of Europe.’ The new media are objects of fascination – symbols of a technological modernity that...

  8. Conclusion
    (pp. 217-222)

    In opening his important genealogical study of English modernist literature, Michael Levenson remarked on the simultaneous vagueness and inevitability of the term ‘modernism,’ which is firmly entrenched in the critical tradition, but the boundaries of which are at best loosely sketched on the cultural landscape of the period that extends from the last two decades of the nineteenth century to the Second World War (and possibly beyond). Indeed, as a period term, modernism is particularly elusive. Post-modernism, from its beginnings in architectural criticism, has been represented as a fundamentally international and cross-cultural phenomenon, and its features seemed so intimately bound...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 223-266)
  10. References
    (pp. 267-284)
  11. Index
    (pp. 285-296)