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The Matrix of Modernism

The Matrix of Modernism: Pound, Eliot, and Early Twentieth-Century Thought

Sanford Schwartz
Copyright Date: 1985
Pages: 246
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  • Book Info
    The Matrix of Modernism
    Book Description:

    Sanford Schwartz situates Modernist poetics in the intellectual ferment of the early twentieth century, which witnessed major developments in philosophy, science, and the arts. Beginning with the works of various philosophers--Bergson, James, Bradley, Nietzsche, and Husserl, among others--he establishes a matrix that brings together not only the principal characteristics of Modernist/New Critical poetics but also the affiliations between the Continental and the Anglo-American critical traditions.

    Originally published in 1988.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5762-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-2)
    (pp. 3-11)

    The aim of this book is to explore the affiliations between Modernist poetics and contemporaneous developments in philosophy. That there are such affiliations is beyond dispute. The names of many philosophers—Bergson, James, Bradley, and Nietzsche among others—appear frequently in studies of the Modernist movement. But literary historians have for the most part adopted an atomistic approach to the subject: they generally confine themselves to individual influences or affinities, examining, for instance, the impact of Bradley on T. S. Eliot or that of Santayana on Wallace Stevens. These studies are often quite valuable, but they focus too narrowly on...

  5. CHAPTER I “This Invented World”: Abstraction and Experience at the Turn of the Century
    (pp. 12-49)

    At the turn of the century, many philosophers believed that they were forging a fundamentally new theory of knowledge. Announcing a major “inversion of Platonism” in Western philosophy, they claimed that reality lies in the immediate flux of sensory appearances and not in a rational order beyond it. Our conceptual systems, they argued, are not copies of eternal forms underlying the sensory flux; they are instrumental constructs that overlie an experiential stream irreducible to rational formulation. Despite the extraordinary progress of natural science in this era, philosophers (as well as certain scientists) denied that our knowledge reflects the essential structure...

  6. CHAPTER II Elements of the New Poetics
    (pp. 50-113)

    The same configuration that unites turn-of-the-century philosophers also unites the principal poets of the Modernist movement. Pound and Eliot, like the philosophers, assume that instrumental conventions shape our thoughts and feelings in everyday life. They also envision similar means of overcoming the anthropomorphic error—the direct recovery of immediate experience and the invention of new forms that reorder experience. The present chapter will be devoted to this dialectic of form and flux in Modernist poetics. I will begin with the case of T. E. Hulme, who outlines the essential shape of the new movement. Roughly stated, Hulme synthesizes Bergson’s emphasis...

  7. CHAPTER III Ezra Pound: Cultural Memory and the Visionary Imagination
    (pp. 114-154)

    In this chapter and the next, the focus shifts from the articulation of a global structure to the examination of individual writers. While the dynamics of abstraction and experience will continue to guide the investigation, the turn from paradigm to person will bring to light distinctive features of the works of Pound and Eliot. The present chapter, devoted to Ezra Pound, begins with the poet’s tendency to think in terms of certain oppositions—form/flux, abstraction/experience, identity/difference, unity/multiplicity—and then to find constructs that hold together the antithetical terms. This attempt to integrate form and flux is typical of Pound’s approach...

  8. CHAPTER IV Incarnate Words: Eliot’s Early Career
    (pp. 155-208)

    The opposition between “surfaces” and “depths” is central to the works of T. S. Eliot. In his readings of turn-of-the-century philosophy, psychology, and ethnology, Eliot encountered this opposition in various forms. Bradley’s immediate experience dovetailed with Jung’s substratum of archetypal symbols and Frazer’s substratum of ritual behavior: all expressed the same distinction between the surface forms of everyday life and the hidden depths that ordinarily elude us. This distinction is evident in the early poetry, where Eliot places highly conventional personae in contexts that evoke a deeper reality of which they are unaware. It is also a feature of the...

  9. CONCLUSION The New Criticism and Beyond
    (pp. 209-215)

    Throughout this book I have explored the modern tendency to think in terms of “surfaces” and “depths,” focusing particularly on the opposition between conceptual abstraction and concrete sensation. These terms have been used to conduct an investigation that might be extended well beyond the limits of this study. They inform the works of many writers of the early twentieth century, and Chapters III and IV merely suggest the kind of work to be done with Yeats, Stevens, and Williams, as well as the novelists of the period. In many respects these terms are still central to the human sciences, philosophy,...

  10. NOTES
    (pp. 216-224)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 225-235)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 236-236)