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Modernism under Review: Edmund Wilson's Axel's Castle : A Study in the Imaginative Literature of 1870–1930

Modernism under Review: Edmund Wilson's Axel's Castle : A Study in the Imaginative Literature of... Vincent Sherry How might Edmund Wilson respond to a featuring of Axel's Castle in an issue of ? While there is no way to answer a leading question like this definitively, one response comes in the form of the anecdote Donald Hall relays from his experience as an undergraduate at Harvard in the early 1950s. At `sixteen or seventeen' Hall had read Axel's Castle, which had already become a cornerstone in this emergent era of modernist studies, and a chance to introduce himself to `the great man' at a literary party being given by Harry Levin would not be passed over. The opening exchange allowed Hall to reveal that he wrote poetry, and when Wilson replied politely that `when he saw my name on a poem in a magazine he would look at it with special attention', Hall advanced the credential which, he thought, would secure the master's approval. He revealed that he was working on `the prosody of modernist poetry'. Wilson exploded: `Never use that filthy disgusting word in my presence!' Hall continues: `For a moment I did not know that `prosody' was the offending word, but I soon discovered that it was `modernist''. He could make http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modernist Cultures Edinburgh University Press

Modernism under Review: Edmund Wilson's Axel's Castle : A Study in the Imaginative Literature of 1870–1930

Modernist Cultures , Volume 7 (2): 145 – Oct 1, 2012

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
© Edinburgh University Press 2012
Subject
Articles; Film, Media and Cultural Studies
ISSN
2041-1022
eISSN
1753-8629
DOI
10.3366/mod.2012.0036
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

Vincent Sherry How might Edmund Wilson respond to a featuring of Axel's Castle in an issue of ? While there is no way to answer a leading question like this definitively, one response comes in the form of the anecdote Donald Hall relays from his experience as an undergraduate at Harvard in the early 1950s. At `sixteen or seventeen' Hall had read Axel's Castle, which had already become a cornerstone in this emergent era of modernist studies, and a chance to introduce himself to `the great man' at a literary party being given by Harry Levin would not be passed over. The opening exchange allowed Hall to reveal that he wrote poetry, and when Wilson replied politely that `when he saw my name on a poem in a magazine he would look at it with special attention', Hall advanced the credential which, he thought, would secure the master's approval. He revealed that he was working on `the prosody of modernist poetry'. Wilson exploded: `Never use that filthy disgusting word in my presence!' Hall continues: `For a moment I did not know that `prosody' was the offending word, but I soon discovered that it was `modernist''. He could make

Journal

Modernist CulturesEdinburgh University Press

Published: Oct 1, 2012

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