CoSMo | Comparative Studies in Modernism 2023-07-02T11:38:58+02:00 Editorial Team Open Journal Systems <p>CoSMo | Comparative Studies in Modernism è la rivista del <a href="">Centro Studi "Arti della Modernità"</a>. Vi sono raccolti i risultati più rilevanti delle riflessioni maturate nel corso dei seminari e delle giornate pubbliche che il Centro Studi promuove.</p> <p>La rivista è strutturata in tre sezioni: <em>Percorsi</em>, <em>Focus </em>e <em>Letture</em>. Gli articoli sono pubblicati al termine di un processo di <em>peer review</em>, monitorato grazie alla piattaforma elettronica dell'Università di Torino.</p> Scarica il Sommario 2023-06-30T08:54:05+02:00 Andrea Brondino John Greaney 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Andrea Brondino Scarica l'intero fascicolo 2023-06-30T08:54:04+02:00 Andrea Brondino John Greaney 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Andrea Brondino Total Modernism 2023-06-30T08:54:07+02:00 Andrea Brondino John Greaney 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Andrea Brondino,John Greaney Modernism and Totality 2023-06-30T08:54:09+02:00 Jean-Michel Rabaté <p>This article surveys the transformations and permutations of “totality” throughout the cultural and political landscapes of the twentieth century. Specifically, it explores connections between “high’ modernism” and totality by focusing on the heritage of this pairing as figured by major thinkers from both the Frankfurt school and structuralist and poststructuralist debates in France. Ultimately, I argue that modernism is an unfinishable archive, one that resists, and will never become, a closed totality.</p> 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Jean-Michel Rabaté Rites of Spring 2023-06-30T08:54:10+02:00 Peter Nicholls <p>This paper reads in tandem two major poems: Giacomo Leopardi’s <em>canzone Alla Primavera, o delle favole antiche</em> (“To Spring, or on the ancient myths”) and T. S. Eliot’s <em>The Waste </em><em>Land</em>. Composed almost exactly one hundred years apart, the two works display some curious affinities in the “rites of Spring” they ironically enact. Eliot never expressed interest in Leopardi, but both poems meditate on classicism, romanticism, and myth, and both are produced in a period of personal and national turmoil for their writers. Read together they might be taken to dramatize the passage between the “modern” work of 1822 and the “modernist” one of 1922, each legible (as Eliot wrote of Igor Stravinsky’s <em>Rite of Spring</em> and James Frazer’s <em>The Golden Bough</em>) either “as a collection of entertaining myths, or as a revelation of that vanished mind of which our mind is a continuation.”</p> 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Peter Nicholls Noluntas sciendi, voluntas nesciendi 2023-06-30T08:54:08+02:00 Raffaele Donnarumma <p>Among the many illnesses that literary characters might suffer from, the peculiar relationship with truth that some characters of the modernist novel come to develop is certainly the most alarming. This can manifest itself in two occasionally intertwined ways: on the one hand we have the <em>voluntas nesciendi</em>, the deliberate refusal of knowing something understood as truth; on the other hand there is the <em>noluntas sciendi</em>, the precautionary dismissal of a dangerous and destabilizing knowledge. It is not a matter of incapacity or impossibility, but rather of choice, one which holds meaning and therefore entails moral consequences. It is the reversal of the ancient Aristotelian axiom by which “all men by nature desiring to know”: men, Freud argues, just as naturally wish not to know, and thus protect themselves through repression [<em>Verdrängung</em>], resistance [<em>Widerstand</em>], disavowal [<em>Verleugnung</em>], negation [<em>Verneinung</em>]. And since “qui auget scientiam, auget et dolorem,” we might also be dealing with the paradoxical actualization of the biblically derived imperative not to know. After reading Schopenhauer and learning something new about life and death, Thomas Buddenbrook closes the book in hopes of forgetting what he read. Lambert Strether, the protagonist of Henry James’ <em>Ambassadors</em>, surrenders to a sort of self-blinding. But Italo Svevo’s Zeno Cosini is the hero of this issue, and for this rewarded by his author. Zeno’s is the final, Nietzschean, and nihilistic outcome of a pathological perspective which is more worrisome than ineptitude, though one which ultimately leads to salvation: truth is pointless for happiness.</p> 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Raffaele Donnarumma Debates about the Death Drive 2023-06-30T08:54:11+02:00 Thomas Macho <p>Between 1920 and 1923 Sigmund Freud revised his drive theory: first in <em>Beyond the Pleasure Principle</em> (1920), later in <em>The Ego and the Id</em> (1923). Since then, he spoke of Eros and Thanatos, of life and death drives. The concept of the death drive has been hotly debated – in psychoanalytic societies, journals, and at congresses. Outlines of this debate are presented and commented on; but they are also confronted with the premiere of an important silent movie: on 4 March 1922 – on the eve before Pier Paolo Pasolini’s birtht – Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau’s <em>Nosferatu: A Symphony of Horror</em> premiered in the marble hall of the Zoological Garden in Berlin.</p> 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Thomas Macho Seeking the Universal amid Ruins 2023-06-30T08:54:12+02:00 Joseph Cermatori <p>This paper revisits Walter Benjamin’s unpublished “Announcement of the Journal Angelus Novus,” one of relatively few texts Benjamin is known to have written in 1922, European modernism’s widely recognized annus mirabilis. The announcement followed numerous, transformative essays and fragments of 1921 and was written alongside his dissertation on The Concept of Criticism in German Romanticism, encompassing a pivotal moment in Benjamin’s philosophical maturation. Heralding the new, never realized journal, the announcement articulates what might be deemed “the task of the editor,” which it describes as a quest for “philosophical universality”. The Angelus Novus journal would proceed form the fact of modern social discontinuities toward the elaboration of universal philosophical truths through the criticism of literary works. This paper reconsiders Benjamin’s editorial ambitions as part of his individual philosophical development and within a broader context of “total modernism,” discussing the announcement’s continued relevance for our contemporary world.</p> 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Joseph Cermatori Forma, Gemeinschaft, Kultur 2023-06-30T08:54:13+02:00 Mimmo Cangiano <p>Through an analysis of the concepts of form, <em>Gemeinschaft</em>, and <em>Kultur</em>, this article highlights how German, Italian, and French intellectuals of the right develop a personal pathway to modernism, having increasingly abandoned the reactionary and anti-modern perspectives that characterised them up until the First World War.</p> 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Mimmo Cangiano 1922-2022: Memory, the Media, and Present-day Modernism 2023-06-30T08:54:03+02:00 Ilaria Natali <p>Jennifer Egan’s <em>The Candy House</em>, published in 2022, revisits the form and themes of two works that crowned the <em>annus mirabilis</em> of 1922: James Joyce’s <em>Ulysses</em> and T.S. Eliot’s <em>The Waste Land</em>. What especially connects these works to each other is a shared interest in the relationship between individual and collective memory, as well as a reflection on the technological tools or means of communication that can be adopted to capture, externalize, and share past experiences.</p> 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Ilaria Natali T. S. Eliot and the Return of the Soldier 2023-07-02T11:38:58+02:00 Wei Zhou <p>T. S. Eliot’s 1922 poem <em>The Waste Land</em> reimagines the theme of the soldier’s return in the wake of the Great War. In Part II of the poem (“A Game of Chess”), Eliot reveals the domestic crisis that the return of the demobilised soldier named Albert may cause. “A Game of Chess” is also concerned with the troubled homecoming of the unnamed, shell-shocked soldier who fought in “rats’ alley” by exposing the strain of psychological trauma on his married life. Drawing upon the literary trope of <em>nostos</em> (“homecoming”) that originates in Homer’s <em>Odyssey</em>, this article examines how Eliot’s treatment of the soldier’s return revisits the archetype of return from war in modern conditions. By examining the two passages constituting “A Game of Chess,” with a focus on relevant literary and cultural references, I investigate how the heroic, masculine narrative of <em>nostos</em>, homecoming in the classical epic tradition, is reframed in the domestic sphere associated with femininity.</p> 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Wei Zhou Romantic Irony as a Source of Value Judgment in Modernism and New Criticism 2023-06-30T08:54:01+02:00 Andrea Brondino <p>This article discusses how the reception of Romantic irony in modernism and New Criticism bears significant implications for the emergence of irony as a key evaluative term in contemporary literary criticism. In particular, this article shows how irony usually alludes to a feature of the artist’s intelligence, as expressed by Ezra Pound, André Breton, Walter Benjamin, and Thomas Mann for instance. It also addresses how the concept of irony, as identified in North American New Criticism by Cleanth Brooks, among others, takes on an ambiguous and self-serving meaning, ultimately at the service of the critics’ value claims.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> 2023-06-27T23:33:01+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Andrea Brondino Sorting Debris 2023-06-30T08:54:22+02:00 Robin V. Hueppe <p>Thinking about modernist urbanism as a period in architecture with potential for the future of cities has been outside the canon for several decades. But from a critical viewpoint, the postmodern stance on modernist mass housing continuously failed to dissociate high modernist urbanism as a unified architectural project from its socio-political, economic, and infrastructural context. While the public image of the projects declined, the architectural canon shifted away from modernist urbanism. And although modernist architecture as a whole recovered from the trauma, the urbanist branch became infamous for failing. However, since the birth of total modernism, its architecture has always been about experimentation and failure. One hundred years later and once again—for different reasons—we confront similar needs for affordable, inclusive housing for never-ending streams of migration clashing with the ecological imperative to free up land to regreen our cities affected by global warming. Although different times bring different requirements, the first waves of modernist experiments had already invented the basic tools. A refreshed moment of attention that negotiates the potential of modernist urbanism could fill the gaps and nuance the postmodernist critique. What does all this mean for urbanism today, and what can it learn from modernist urbanism?</p> 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Robin V. Hueppe Il lavoro e il lavoratore secondo Ernst Jünger e Simone Weil 2023-06-30T08:54:19+02:00 Antonio Dall'Igna <p>The present article compares Ernst Jünger’ and Simone Weil’s thought, starting from the concepts of work and worker. Work takes on the meaning of a meticulous exercise of reading and modifying the reality and its stratifications, and coincides with the position of the human being within the becoming of forms and meanings. Both thinkers maintain that the worker can reach a higher stage, i.e., the void that affirms the divine grace, according to Weil, and the anarchic space that captures the elemental, according to Jünger. Despite the similarities, there is a crucial difference between these perspectives: according to Jünger, the fulfilment consists in the dominion, while for Weil fulfilment coincides with radical waiting.</p> 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Antonio Dall'Igna Un astrattismo mancato? 2023-06-30T08:54:15+02:00 Camilla Balbi Marcello Sessa <p>Through an aesthetic and a historical-philological lens, this essay analyses the complex relationship between Wassily Kandinsky’s work and its critical interpretations by Carl Einstein and Clement Greenberg in the first half of the 20th century. Within two different and paradigmatic modernisms — the European and the North American one, the German-speaking and the English-speaking one —, both authors read Kandinsky’s abstraction both as a negative (in its deviation from modernist orthodoxy) and positive (a chance to project through Kandisky’s work an unprecedented image of modernism, as well as their critical vision) form of art.</p> 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Marcello Sessa Total Timescaping 2023-06-30T08:54:16+02:00 Richard Hardack <p>In his novel <em>Against the Day</em>, Pynchon’s formulation of modernism anticipates and even subsumes postmodernism, yet also is predicated on an abolition of sequential time and cause and effect, which might reflect a modernist decentering of space, time, and gravity. Pynchon’s modernism dramatizes the idea that linear time no longer exists – that our time and space are no longer the center of the universe, much as conscious individual thought no longer is the center of subjectivity. Periods, literary or grammatical, also fall by the wayside. This decentering of time also is associated with modernist science and ontology, which paradoxically put modernism back at the center of an aesthetic without a center. Modernism functions as the narrative equivalent of relativity, yet also of quantum theory, because all spaces and time emerge and exist at once, in a process that Pynchon refers to as bilocation. Modernist connection then veers into concurrence. At least heuristically, Pynchon also treats the modernist project as a form of doubling and repetition. As a result, Pynchon situates modernism and World War I as precursors to their successor, postmodernism and World War II, without directly addressing them, yet somehow also as co-existing with them; both are doubled though repetitions that rewrite the originals. Pynchon situates modernism as an ethos of echoes, but a repetition without an original. A kind of quilting point, modernism becomes a contradictory master term that still explains everything, a lens through which all else is seen.</p> 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Richard Hardack Produrre e riprodurre i media 2023-06-30T08:54:18+02:00 Pasquale Fameli <p>In July 1922, László Moholy-Nagy published “Produktion – Reproduktion” in <em>De Stijl</em>, a magazine of the neo-plastic movement founded by Theo Van Doesburg, a short but significant theoretical text in which he proposes the reuse of reproductive media such as the gramophone, the cinematograph and photography as means for the production of unprecedented formal relations. The rethinking of those media entails a radical detachment from the faithful reproduction of reality and the aestheticisation of their material properties. For Moholy-Nagy, this transformation satisfies the general tendency of modern men to not only extend their sensual faculties, but also to perfect them, fostered by all the new possible relationships between art and technology. The ideas<br>underlying this writing, considered mainly within the debate on abstract avant-garde cinema, are paradigmatic of a radical modernism that, in the field of visual arts, finds highest expression its in the revelation of the specificity of a medium. However, in the course of the following decades, several artists have applied similar principles, achieving results that can be ascribed to an opposite perspective, that of an overcoming of the specificity of the medium which characterised the more mature postmodern condition. Starting from a comparison between the ideas of “Produktion – Reproduktion” and the creative conditions of the post-medium dimension, I highlight the double face of Moholy-Nagy’s modernism, which finds in the most extreme version of its principles the premises for its own deconstruction.</p> 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Pasquale Fameli A Bard in the Trenches 2023-06-30T08:54:17+02:00 Leonardo Piana <p>When<em> The Waste Land</em> was published in 1922, David Jones, a 27-year-old Anglo-Welsh painter, was living in the English countryside with a monastic community of artists. A World War I veteran who had been injured in the tragic battle at the Somme, Jones had converted to Catholicism and was developing a modernist aesthetics, producing paintings and engravings where scenes from the gospels (the flagellation, the crucifixion, the empty tomb) were set on the French front, carried<br>out by helpless British infantrymen. <em>The Waste Land</em> was a transformative read for Jones, who thought it embodied the ‘metaphysical disaster’ (Musil 1922) of the war. In later years, Jones began writing about his own wartime experience (Dilworth 1994, 2017): with Eliot’s help and encouragement, he published <em>In Parenthesis</em> (1937), an epic poem (praised by W.H. Auden and Igor Stravinsky, among others) that moved the modernist myth of the waste land from Eliot’s London to<br>the literal wasteland of the trenches. This paper examines Jones’s mythic method, underpinned by his conception of the artist as a ‘maker’ (Jones 1959); it shows how his works blurred the boundaries between artforms by juxtaposing paintings and inscriptions to prose and verse. Jones’s singular perspective as a modernist soldier-bard, drawing from Christian liturgy and Arthurian myth, and the intertextual dialogue with Eliot’s poem, suggest an original reading of the waste land as a ritual space for remembrance, representation, and re-enactment: a useful critical category for a theory of modernism, and a metaphor for the work of art itself.</p> 2023-06-27T00:00:00+02:00 Copyright (c) 2023 Leonardo Piana