Chapter

Introduction

Sarah Cole

in At the Violet Hour

Published in print November 2012 | ISBN: 9780195389616
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780199979226 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195389616.003.0001

Series: Modernist Literature and Culture

Introduction

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Taking as its touchstone the passage from A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man when young Stephen Dedalus is beaten on the hands, the introduction establishes key principles for reading violence in modernist literature: violence is imagined as the site of multiple origins and primary subjectivity; it is located in the body and at the crux of culture; it often begins as allegory (for instance by suggesting violence against humans through representations of violence against animals) yet it also collapses allegory into incarnation; most generally, the effort to find literary forms for violence stands at the very crux of literary self-definition. The introduction amplifies key terms in the book such as force and political violence, and develops two poles of historical thinking about violence in the period, the spectacular (where violence is hyperbolic and intensely visual, as in WWI) and the hidden (where violence remains mute and effaced). It also clarifies the book's relation to several important critical conventions about WWI and modernism, and provides brief chapter summaries.

Keywords: violence and history; James Joyce; William Butler Yeats; modernism; animals and violence; political violence; force; Simone Weil; Jean Rhys; Wide Sargasso Sea

Chapter.  16973 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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