Modernism…-isms.

“Today, two things, seem to be modern: the analysis of life and the flight from life…One practises anatomy of the inner life of one’s mind, or one dreams. Reflection or fantasy, mirror image or image dream. Old furniture is modern, and so are recent neuroses… Paul Bourget is modern, and Buddha; splitting atoms and playing ball games with the cosmos. Modern is the dissection of a mood, a sigh, a scruple; and modern is the instinctive, almost somnambulistic surrender to every revelation of beauty, to a harmony of colours, to a glittering metaphor, to a wondrous allegory.” 

Hugo von Hofannsthal, 1893.

 

The elasticity of modernity, as a thing and as a concept. Even today it is highly pertinent.

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Tastes

“We are told that the study of literature ‘cultivates the taste, educates the sympathies and enlarges the mind’. These are all excellent things, only we cannot examine tastes and sympathies. Examiners must have technical and positive information to examine.”  Professor Edward Freeman, 1887.

 

A revealing quote, less about the nature of literature, more about the aims of ‘history’. In time, history acquiesces to ‘literature’ for a brief moment.