At the Violet Hour: Modernism and Violence in England and Ireland

Paperback | July 15, 2014

bySarah Cole

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Literature has long sought to make sense of the destruction and aggression wrought by human civilization. Yet no single literary movement was more powerfully shaped by violence than modernism. As Sarah Cole shows, modernism emerged as an imaginative response to the devastating events thatdefined the period, including the chaos of anarchist bombings, World War I, the Irish uprising, and the Spanish Civil War. Combining historical detail with resourceful readings of fiction, poetry, journalism, photographs, and other cultural materials, At the Violet Hour explores the strange intimacybetween modernist aesthetics and violence in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.The First World War and T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land demonstrate the new theoretical paradigm that Cole deploys throughout her study, what she calls "enchanted" and "disenchanted" violence - the polarizing perceptions of violent death as either the fuel for regeneration or the emblem of grotesqueloss. These concepts thread through the literary-historical moments that form the core of her study, beginning with anarchism and the advent of dynamite violence in late Victorian England. As evinced in novels by Joseph Conrad, Henry James, and others, anarchism fostered a vibrant, modernconsciousness of violence entrenched in sensationalism and melodrama. A subsequent chapter offers four interpretive categories - keening, generative violence, reprisal, and allegory - for reading violence in works by W. B. Yeats, J. M. Synge, Sean O'Casey, and others around the time of Ireland'sEaster Rising. The book concludes with a discussion of Virginia Woolf's oeuvre, placing the author in two primary relations to the encroaching culture of violence: deeply exploring and formalizing its registers; and veering away from her peers to construct an original set of patterns to accommodateits visceral ubiquity in the years leading up to the Second World War.A rich interdisciplinary study that incorporates perspectives from history, anthropology, the visual arts, and literature, At the Violet Hour provides a resonant framework for refiguring the relationship between aesthetics and violence that will extend far beyond the period traditionally associatedwith literary modernism.

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Literature has long sought to make sense of the destruction and aggression wrought by human civilization. Yet no single literary movement was more powerfully shaped by violence than modernism. As Sarah Cole shows, modernism emerged as an imaginative response to the devastating events thatdefined the period, including the chaos of anarc...

Sarah Cole is Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and the author of Modernism, Male Friendship, and the First World War.

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.68 inPublished:July 15, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199389063

ISBN - 13:9780199389063

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. Enchanted and Disenchanted Violence2. Dynamite Violence: From Melodrama to Menace3. Cyclical Violence: The Irish Insurrection and the Limits of Enchantment4. Patterns of Violence: Virginia Woolf in the 1930sConclusionIndex