Literary Modernism; The Struggle for Modern History

Literary Modernism; The Struggle for Modern History, by Jeffery Perl ★★★★
Typically, I detest literature courses. I started out wondering what possessed me to listen to this series. The first lecture didn’t fare so well. Then, the professor started to connect with issues dear to my heart. I don’t know exactly where Prof. Perl is coming from, but he does a masterful job of concealing his own personal orientation. The discussion evolves are a set of poets in the twentieth century, including D.H. Lawrence,  Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Willam Carlos Williams, and Gertrude Stein. Perl spends a lengthy period discussing the movement in the 1920s and 1930s to abandon the concept of language being capable to act as a means of communication. He discusses the various camps of classic vs. neoclassic modernism, and how these poets all moved as a group in certain areas. They all were communist supporters in the 1930s and supported either the movement of Hitler or Mussolini, followed by post-war despair in their writings. While these poets remain the ideal of intellectualism of the twentieth century, it seems to me that they are self-contradictory. They deny that words could convey meaning, yet they use words to convey those meanings. Their intellectual arrogance refuses them a mirror on their own folly. I certainly won’t run out to buy any James Joyce or T.S. Eliot, but there is a high probability that I will re-listen to this series, approaching it from a slightly better attitude toward some types of literature discussion. Perl is a compelling teacher, and quite knowledgeable, thus is worthy of a hearing or two.