Blasphemous Modernism: The 20th-Century Word Made Flesh by Steve PinkertonBlasphemous Modernism: The 20th-Century Word Made Flesh by Steve Pinkerton

Blasphemous Modernism: The 20th-Century Word Made Flesh

bySteve Pinkerton

Hardcover | April 14, 2017

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Scholars have long described modernism as "heretical" or "iconoclastic" in its assaults on secular traditions of form, genre, and decorum. Yet critics have paid surprisingly little attention to the related category of blasphemy - the rhetoric of religious offense - and to the specific waysthis rhetoric operates in, and as, literary modernism. United by a shared commitment to "the word made flesh," writers such as James Joyce, Mina Loy, Richard Bruce Nugent, and Djuna Barnes made blasphemy a key component of their modernist practice, profaning the very scriptures and sacraments thatfueled their art. In doing so they belied T. S. Eliot's verdict that the forces of secularization had rendered blasphemy obsolete in an increasingly godless century ("a world in which blasphemy is impossible"); their poems and fictions reveal how forcefully religion endured as a cultural force afterthe Death of God. More, their transgressions spotlight a politics of religion that has seldom engaged the attention of modernist studies. Blasphemy respects no division of church and state, and neither do the writers who wield it to profane all manner of coercive dogmas - including ecclesiastical aswell as more worldly ideologies of race, class, nation, empire, gender, and sexuality. The late-century example of Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses affords, finally, a demonstration of how modernism persists in postwar anglophone literature and of the critical role blasphemy plays in thatpersistence. Blasphemous Modernism thus resonates with the broader cultural and ideological concerns that in recent years have enriched the scope of modernist scholarship.
Steve Pinkerton is a Lecturer in English at Case Western Reserve University.
Title:Blasphemous Modernism: The 20th-Century Word Made FleshFormat:HardcoverDimensions:200 pages, 9.25 × 6.12 × 0.98 inPublished:April 14, 2017Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0190627565

ISBN - 13:9780190627560

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Editorial Reviews

"At last! An intuitive and probing analysis of blasphemy and modernist writers, skillfully accomplished by exploring the real-world context of their works. This penetrating and lucid book pries apart the fundamental paradox of blasphemy within the modernist epoch--that the most forthrightblasphemy effectively reinforces the power of the sacred over the imagination in a supposedly godless age." --DAVID NASH, Oxford Brookes University