A literary ""Shock of the New"" from critic and novelist Bradbury (Cuts, 1987; Unsent Letters, p. 799; etc.)--here...


THE MODERN WORLD: Ten Great Writers

A literary ""Shock of the New"" from critic and novelist Bradbury (Cuts, 1987; Unsent Letters, p. 799; etc.)--here illuminating the modern movement in literature through ten great writers. Originally the companion text to a 1988 British TV series, this is a general but thoughtful collage. Bradbury starts with the 1860's and 70's, with the great, tormented Underground Man, Dostoyevsky. Describing the crime in Crime and Punishment, Bradbury shows the Russian writer single-handedly inventing a novel form in which the dark warrior of the unconscious emerged. Dostoyevsky became the radiating central character of modern literature, powerfully influencing every writer who tried to write a novel of consciousness. After digressing to describe Ibsen, Bradbury goes on to line up Dostoyevsky's novelistic children and grandchildren, starting with the brooding meditations of Mann and Conrad (with the latter's gift for showing the horror beneath the sentimental lie of civilation). Much attention is lavished on Proust and his great cathedral of a novel, Remembrance of Things Past. Brilliant social history anchored to a deep ""autobiography of sensation,"" Proust's astonishing novel, Bradbury argues, tested the very limits of memory and conscious creation. Bradbury quotes Proust: ""Genius consists in the reflective power of a writer and not in the intrinsic quality of the scene reflected""; through the works of James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, Pirandello, Virginia Woolf, and Franz Kafka, Bradbury shows how, after Proust, writer and scene became one. Bradbury attempts to follow Pound's famous exhortation to ""Make it new."" Undaunted by the extensive scholarship on all of these writers, he produces a solid introduction to the literature that has shaped modern imagination.

Pub Date: Jan. 26, 1988


Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988