Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Gertrude Stein and some questions about modernism

I found this article over at Truthout the other day, which poses some troubling questions about Gertrude Stein's relationship to the Vichy regime in Occupied France. Although not strictly relevant to a blog about Finnegans Wake, this seems to be yet another member of the modernist movement who was a little too unbothered with Fascist ideology. The quote that made me think of adding this here was from a Professor Barbara Will, who has a new book out called Unlikely Collaboration: Gertrude Stein, Bernard Faÿ and the Vichy Dilemma:

The full story of the relationship of modernist writers to fascist and pro-fascist regimes is just beginning to be told and Stein offers a fascinating case study of this relationship.

Highly uninformed though I am, even I have heard about Ezra Pound's links to Fascism, and in a recent article in the New Yorker article, Louis Menand mentions that T.S. Eliot may have had a little too much interest in Fascism for his own good. I find myself wondering a bit about how I'm supposed to view their artistic work in this light, and whether this susceptibility might not be a flaw in the Modernist approach itself.

However, I'm reassured about Joyce by this article . Since I'm not a member of a qualified institution, I can't read the whole article--though perhaps some readers here might have different means. In any case, the abstract  itself pits Joyce against the likes of Wyndham Lewis and others in their misguided support for this thoroughly discredited system of government.

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