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Modernism's Foreign Bodies: Strindberg and Hamsun

Modernism's Foreign Bodies: Strindberg and Hamsun Peter Sjølyst-Jackson Virginia Woolf's statement that `on or about December 1910 human character changed' remains a founding myth for British modernism.1 Reading Woolf's polemical articles is, however, oddly reminiscent of Knut Hamsun's literary manifestoes, some 30 years prior. In `Modern Fiction' (1919) Woolf advocates novels that record how the mind `receives a myriad of impressions' every day, `an incessant shower of innumerable atoms', calling to mind Hamsun's 1890 essay `Fra det ubevidste Sjæleliv' (`From the Unconscious Life of the Mind') that exhorted authors to focus on `the unpredictable disorder of impressions, the delicate life of the imagination'.2 Her description of James Joyce's literary project, `to reveal the flickerings of that innermost flame which flashes messages through the brain' also recalls Hamsun's wish for a literature that captures those interior phenomena that `last a second, a minute; they come and go like the blinking of passing lights'.3 In comparison with Hamsun, Woolf's founding gesture looks increasingly belated, and the uncanny associations and parallelisms keep multiplying. If the Post-Impressionist exhibition of 1910 that Woolf had in mind served to consolidate a modernist aesthetic through the confluence of the visual and the literary (while also setting the new movement apart by http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modernist Cultures Edinburgh University Press

Modernism's Foreign Bodies: Strindberg and Hamsun

Modernist Cultures , Volume 8 (2): 232 – Oct 1, 2013

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
© Edinburgh University Press 2013
Subject
Articles; Film, Media and Cultural Studies
ISSN
2041-1022
eISSN
1753-8629
DOI
10.3366/mod.2013.0063
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Peter Sjølyst-Jackson Virginia Woolf's statement that `on or about December 1910 human character changed' remains a founding myth for British modernism.1 Reading Woolf's polemical articles is, however, oddly reminiscent of Knut Hamsun's literary manifestoes, some 30 years prior. In `Modern Fiction' (1919) Woolf advocates novels that record how the mind `receives a myriad of impressions' every day, `an incessant shower of innumerable atoms', calling to mind Hamsun's 1890 essay `Fra det ubevidste Sjæleliv' (`From the Unconscious Life of the Mind') that exhorted authors to focus on `the unpredictable disorder of impressions, the delicate life of the imagination'.2 Her description of James Joyce's literary project, `to reveal the flickerings of that innermost flame which flashes messages through the brain' also recalls Hamsun's wish for a literature that captures those interior phenomena that `last a second, a minute; they come and go like the blinking of passing lights'.3 In comparison with Hamsun, Woolf's founding gesture looks increasingly belated, and the uncanny associations and parallelisms keep multiplying. If the Post-Impressionist exhibition of 1910 that Woolf had in mind served to consolidate a modernist aesthetic through the confluence of the visual and the literary (while also setting the new movement apart by

Journal

Modernist CulturesEdinburgh University Press

Published: Oct 1, 2013

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