Modernism, as Josipovici understands, doesn’t mend things – but it is honest about the unmendability. Modernism rejects the ‘bad faith’ of Romanticism and Realism – the two great movements on which traditional English literature and art rest. Modernism is cosmically ‘disenchanted’ (Josipovici borrows this key term from Max Weber). But it is not frightened to look, even if what it looks at is as paralysing as Medusa’s head. Josipovici takes as axiomatic Beckett’s proclamation that the Modernist writer has ‘nothing with which to express, nothing from which to express, no desire to express, together with the obligation to express.’ It is despairing but brave – and, more importantly, true to the human condition.
more from John Sutherland at Literary Review here.