Log24

Monday, December 15, 2014

May We?

Filed under: General — m759 @ 11:29 AM

John Burt Foster Jr. in Nabokov's Art of Memory and
European Modernism
  (Princeton U. Press, 1993, p. 224) —

At the time of The Waste Land , in a comment on
Joyce's Ulysses  that influenced many later definitions
of modernism in the English-speaking world, Eliot
announced, "instead of narrative method, we may
now use the mythical method."13

May we? … Further details —

From

T. S. Eliot, "'Ulysses,' Order and Myth,"
in The Dial , LXXV, No. 5 (Nov. 1923),
pp. 480-83,

the last two paragraphs:

It is here that Mr Joyce’s parallel use of the Odyssey  has a great importance. It has the importance of a scientific discovery. No one else has built a novel upon such a foundation before: it has never before been necessary. I am not begging the question in calling Ulysses  a novel; and if you call it an epic it will not matter. If it is not a novel, that is simply because the novel is a form which will no longer serve; it is because the novel, instead of being a form, was simply the expression of an age which had not sufficiently lost all form to feel the need of something stricter. Mr Joyce has written one novel – the Portrait ; Mr Wyndham Lewis has written one novel – Tarr . I do not suppose that either of them will ever write another “novel.” The novel ended with Flaubert and with James. It is, I think, because Mr Joyce and Mr Lewis, being “in advance” of their time, felt a conscious or probably unconscious dissatisfaction with the form, that their novels are more formless than those of a dozen clever writers who are unaware of its obsolescence.

In using the myth, in manipulating a continuous parallel between contemporaneity and antiquity, Mr Joyce is pursuing a method which others must pursue after him. They will not be imitators, any more than the scientist who uses the discoveries of an Einstein in pursuing his own, independent, further investigations. It is simply a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history. It is a method already adumbrated by Mr Yeats, and of the need for which I believe Mr Yeats to have been the first contemporary to be conscious. It is a method for which the horoscope is auspicious. Psychology (such as it is, and whether our reaction to it be comic or serious), ethnology, and The Golden Bough have concurred to make possible what was impossible even a few years ago. Instead of narrative method, we may now use the mythical method. It is, I seriously believe, a step towards making the modern world possible for art, toward that order and form which Mr Aldington so earnestly desires. And only those who have won their own discipline in secret and without aid, in a world which offers very little assistance to that end, can be of any use in furthering this advance.

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