Institutions of Modernism

Literary Elites and Public Culture

Lawrence Rainey

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This book provides a radical and revisionary account of modernism, its many contradictions, and its troubled place in our public culture. Lawrence Rainey, widely known for his contributions to the debates on modernism, looks beyond the well-examined themes and innovative forms of the movement, asking instead where modernism was produced and how it was transmitted to particular audiences. Delving into previously unexamined primary materials, the author tells new and startling stories about five major modernist figures—James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, H.D., and F. T. Marinetti—whose individual tales offer fresh perspectives on the larger story of modernism itself.
The book ranges in time from the formation of Imagism in 1912 to the slow dissolution of modernism during the late 1930s. Rainey explores such diverse sources as the recently opened archives of the Dial, full sales records for Ulysses (including buyers' names and addresses), and Pound`s letters detailing his fascination with Fascism. Literary modernism, the author argues, was marked by a withdrawal from the sphere of common culture into a sequestered new world in which the public no longer played a significant part, a world dominated by the patronage of "little magazines" and the collecting of deluxe editions. As literary modernism became hostage to the dealers, collectors, and patrons who underwrote it, its cultural status became increasingly troubled, thereby altering public attitudes toward literary and intellectual elites in profound and enduring ways.
Henry McBride Series in Modernism and Modernity

Lawrence Rainey is Chair in Modernist Literature at the University of York in England and the founder and editor of the scholarly journal Modernism/Modernity.

“This is a work of the first critical importance. Rainey captivates with his consistent ability to create fascinating new narratives out of his deep research.”—John Sutherland, University College, London

"Lawrence Rainey has made a reputation for himself as the most tenacious and one of the most illuminating critics of Literary Modernism. Approaching has subject from oblique angles, he comes up time and again with centrally important discoveries. Supported by dauntingly meticulous research and polyglot skills Rainey fashions criticism which, unusually in today’s academic climate, can be enjoyed by non-specialists and specialists alike. His writing, materialistic in its convictions and direct style, will change the way this richest phase of Anglo-American-European art is read and viewed. Above all, this is an eminently readable book."—John Sutherland, Lord Northcliffe Professor of Modern English Literature, UCL

"Rainey’s book represents a significant advance in the vexed debate about high modernism and the institutions that both formed and sustained it. By combining scrupulous historical and archival research with a theoretically sophisticated understanding of the crucial issues at stake, Rainey gives us important new ways to think about some of the most studied authors in the modernist canon. That he does so without cant, jargon, or special pleading is as commendable as it is rare in the field."—Michael Andre Bernstein, University of California at Berkeley

"[Rainey] puts forth a radical redefinition of modernism, arguing for its delayed, yet solicited commodification within the complexities of specialized institutions, such as patron-investors. . . . Highly recommended for undergraduate and graduate libraries."—Choice

“Through this sort of historical detail Rainey’s brilliance shines. And this book is brilliant: smart, lively, original, impolitic, less cautious than contentious, quick witted. It is good literary history, and I found it almost a page-turner in many places.”—Joseph Kelly, James Joyce Literary Supplement

“Rainey’s revision of important modernist concepts is a sound contribution to literary history.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Various views of modernism have been discussed recently . . . but Rainey places modernism in its institutional and economic setting. An important and original discussion of literary sociology from the 19th century bourgeoisie to the modern university.”—Library Journal

“Elegant and precise, Rainey possesses the conceptual mobility of a theorist and the archival precision of an accountant.”—Michael Levenson, Lingua Franca

“Rainey writes informatively about the appropriate of modernism by the market and how this contributes to its restricted impact. . .”—David Bradshaw, Oxford Academic Journals

"Rainey’s book eloquently and deftly outlines the possibilities and pitfalls of modernist self-fashioning."—Mark Ford, Times Literary Supplement

ISBN: 9780300070507
Publication Date: January 11, 1999
238 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
30 b/w illus.
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