By Jessica Berman
During this e-book, Jessica Berman claims that modernist fiction engages without delay with early twentieth-century modifications of group and cosmopolitanism. even though modernist writers improve substantially diversified versions for social association, their writings go back repeatedly to problems with commonality and shared voice, quite when it comes to dominant discourses of gender and nationality. The writings of Henry James, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, and Gertrude Stein not just inscribe early twentieth-century anxieties approximately race, ethnicity, nationality and gender, yet confront them with calls for for contemporary, cosmopolitan types of neighborhood.
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Extra resources for Modernist Fiction, Cosmopolitanism and the Politics of Community
It marks both the rise of the cosmopolitan attitude and its extension from what Thomas Peyser calls a utopian sentiment⁴⁹ into a practical, if soon to be eclipsed, approach to American identity. ⁵³ Always concerned, under Walker’s ownership, with advances in technology and transportation, Cosmopolitan also printed in these volumes articles on ‘‘The Great Railway Systems of the United States’’ as well as discussions of electricity, aerial navigation, and the construction of the airplane. The implication, of course, is that what is new is cosmopolitan and that the magazine will be a harbinger of the new.
The pariah homosexuality that emerges in Proust is never a community as such – yet it oﬀers the most compelling scene of shared, if often hidden, experience that is present in the novel. Nor am I greatly concerned here with the many real-world communities which to a greater or lesser extent claim the loyalties of these writers. ⁹¹ These manifestos seek to create, challenge or defend not only particular modes or perspectives but also communities of artists who share those perspectives. Thus when Woolf in ‘‘Character in Fiction’’ divides writers into two camps – the Edwardians (Wells, Bennett, and Galsworthy) and the Georgians (Forster, Lawrence, Strachey, Joyce) – she does so not only to combat the view of character seen in novels by the Edwardians, but also to align herself with character as it emerges in the work of the Georgians.
In that sense it begins the unworking necessary for a less presumptive mode of politics, one which decenters belonging and challenges commonplace notions of the universal political subject. This challenge emerges most clearly within the domain of gender, where these texts most clearly present the masculine assumptions so often contained within the construction of universal political citizenship and natural community. ⁸¹ The universal citizen, no matter how theorized, remains tainted by its historical gender and racial construction.
Modernist Fiction, Cosmopolitanism and the Politics of Community by Jessica Berman