The phrase 'Make it New' is frequently used in defining a key feature of modernism – its novelty – and is often regarded as influential and foundational in the development of modernist aesthetics. Yet when Ezra Pound employed the phrase for the first time in 1928, modernism’s major works had already appeared, and decades would pass before 'Make It New' gained significance and became a catchphrase and slogan. 'Make It New' was Pound’s rendering of a passage in Da Xue, a historical Chinese text. Influenced by Christian belief as well, 'Make It New' became a model of change, of renaissance and renewal, in which the new is not simply a return to the old. Drawing on the work of those who have gone before, Making It New is a process of historical recycling, quotation, and re-arrangement.

In this exhibition, you will see examples of modernist writers Making It New, and it focuses on modernists who re-inscribe medieval elements, including medieval forms, themes, and narratives. It highlights the holdings of the University of Otago Libraries, in particular the treasures of the Charles Brasch collection. Please enjoy.

Poster (1.4MB in PDF format)

Handlist (786KB in PDF format)

Make it New! The Imagists

Make It New: Essays by Ezra Pound

Make It New: Essays by Ezra Pound

In this volume, Ezra Pound rediscovers poets and traditions from various cultures and times. Pound is particularly fascinated with the troubadours and poetry written in the Provençal language. He admires the condensed, direct expression of these poets, their values and ideals, seeing a place for these medieval values in the modern world. He includes essays on the troubadours, Arnaut Daniel, Guido Cavalcanti, Elizabethan Classicists, making their poetic traditions new.

Ezra Pound, Make It New: Essays by Ezra Pound. London: Faber and Faber, September 1934. Special Collections PS3531 082 A16 1934

Imagist Anthology, 1930

Imagist Anthology, 1930

Imagist poets isolate a single image and reveal its essence. Pound defined an image as ‘that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time.’ The poet renders the image precisely, in clear, direct, exact language and in rhythms composed in individualised musical phases, not conventional metres and forms. Between 1914 and 1917, Imagist poets published four anthologies, and many of the contributors to those volumes appear in this 1930 anthology.

Edited by Richard Aldington, Imagist Anthology, 1930. London: Chatto & Windus, 1930. Special Collections PR605 I6 I98

Timon Athens Shakespeare

Timon Athens Shakespeare

Invited to illustrate a new edition of Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens, Wyndham Lewis produced a series of striking Vorticist pieces, including this plate for Act I. Although the proposed edition never materialised, reproductions of Lewis’ works were published instead as a portfolio. Inspired in part by Cubism, Futurism, and Expressionism, their bold lines lean towards geometric abstraction. In 2003, the project’s original purpose was realised when LaNana Creek Press (Nacogdoches, Texas) brought together for the first time Shakespeare’s text and Lewis’ images.

Wyndham Lewis, Timon Athens Shakespeare. London: The Cube Press, 1914. Special Collections PR2883 LN58

Blast 1 [June 20th, 1914]

Blast 1 [June 20th, 1914]

Blast is the Review of the Great English Vortex, the journal of the short-lived Vorticist art movement. Blast 1 features the movement’s manifesto and work contributed by Ezra Pound, Ford Maddox Hueffer (Ford), sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, and others, under editor Wyndham Lewis. It employs bold graphic design and inventive typography to arrest the reader’s attention.

Edited by Wyndham Lewis, Blast 1 [June 20th, 1914]. Santa Rosa, California: Black Sparrow Press, 1981. Special Collections PR6023 E97 Z5 B52 1981

Blast 2 [War Number, July 1915]

Blast 2 [War Number, July 1915]

The cover of Blast 2 is characteristic of Vorticism’s endeavour to capture the energy and urban, industrialised nature of the modern world.

Edited by Wyndham Lewis, Blast 2 [War Number, July 1915]. Santa Barbara, California: Black Sparrow Press, 1981. Special Collections PR6023 E97 Z5 B52 1981

Blast 3

Blast 3

Cover of Blast 3

Edited by Wyndham Lewis, Blast 3. Santa Barbara, California: Black Sparrow Press, 1984. Special Collections PR6023 E97 Z5 B52 1981

Ripostes of Ezra Pound: Whereto are Appended the Complete Poetical Works of T. E. Hulme, with Prefatory Note

Ripostes of Ezra Pound: Whereto are Appended the Complete Poetical Works of T. E. Hulme, with Prefatory Note

T. S. Eliot believed that Pound was more responsible than any other individual ‘for the twentieth-century revolution in poetry.’ In Ripostes, Pound drew attention to the Imagist movement, developing that style in his own work and appending several poems by T. E. Hulme as examples of this new poetics. He included his translation of the Old English poem ‘The Seafarer,’ upsetting some readers by writing a poem based on his own personal interpretation of the medieval work rather than a literal translation of it.

Ezra Pound, Ripostes of Ezra Pound: Whereto are Appended the Complete Poetical Works of T. E. Hulme, with Prefatory Note. London: Elkin Mathews, 1915. Brasch PS3531 O82 R5

Ezra Pound

The Art of Wyndham Lewis

The Art of Wyndham Lewis

Cover of Charles Handley-Read's The Art of Wyndham Lewis

Edited by Charles Handley-Read, The Art of Wyndham Lewis. London: Faber and Faber, 1951. Brasch ND497 L48 H686

The Art of Wyndham Lewis, with an Essay on Detail in the Artist’s Style, a Chronological Outline and Notes on the Plates

The Art of Wyndham Lewis, with an Essay on Detail in the Artist’s Style, a Chronological Outline and Notes on the Plates

On a visit to London in 1938, Pound posed for this portrait. Arriving at Lewis’ house, he ‘flung himself at full length’ into Lewis’ best chair and ‘did not move for two hours by the clock.’ In the portrait, now housed in the Tate Gallery, Pound reclines in a chair, his eyes closed, face restful, and body motionless. Beside him is a table; on which a folded newspaper lies and assorted ashtrays sit. Behind the table, a painted canvas is propped against the wall. Lewis’ crayon sketch of Pound’s head in Plate 46 is a study for the oil portrait in Plate 47.

Edited by Charles Handley-Read, The Art of Wyndham Lewis, with an Essay on Detail in the Artist’s Style, a Chronological Outline and Notes on the Plates. London: Faber and Faber, 1951. Brasch ND497 L48 H686

Cathay

Cathay

Described by T. S. Eliot as ‘the inventor of Chinese poetry for our time,’ Pound brought classical Chinese poetry to a modern English-speaking audience. As with the troubadours and Provençal poets, Pound revived Chinese poetic practice, inventively interpreting the poetry and revealing his own poetic sensibility and linguistic gifts. Using Ernest Fenollosa’s notes, Pound ‘translated’ poems by ‘Rihaku’ (Li Bai or Li Po) into elegantly simple English. Pound’s graceful poems are collected in this handsome volume, Cathay.

Translated by Ezra Pound, Cathay. London: Elkin Mathews, 1915. Brasch PL2671 A27

A Lume Spento and Other Early Poems

A Lume Spento and Other Early Poems

Although he would later refer to this volume of poetry as ‘a collection of stale creampuffs,’ Lume Spento (With Tapers Quenched) is Pound’s first collection of poetry; its dramatic lyrics examples of Pound’s early poetic style. The title is a phrase borrowed from Canto III of Dante’s Purgatorio, and the poems reflect Pound’s fascination with the poetry of the troubadours.

Ezra Pound, A Lume Spento and Other Early Poems. London: Faber and Faber, 1965. Brasch PS3531 O82 A4 1965

Personæ

Personæ

Cover of Ezra Pound's Personæ

Ezra Pound, Personæ. London: Faber and Faber, 1952. Brasch PS3531 O82 P4

Personæ: Collected Shorter Poems of Ezra Pound

Personæ: Collected Shorter Poems of Ezra Pound

In ‘The Flame,’ Pound makes new a medieval vision of fin amor (fine or courtly love): this mystic love transcends time and space, making lovers immortal and granting them visionary knowledge.

Ezra Pound, Personæ: Collected Shorter Poems of Ezra Pound. London: Faber and Faber, 1952. Brasch PS3531 O82 P4

T. S. Eliot & Dante

Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot: A Lecture

Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot: A Lecture

Richard Aldington knew Pound and Eliot personally. He and Pound persuaded Harriet Weaver to appoint Eliot as Pound’s successor at The Egoist, and Aldington worked with Pound to get Eliot out of his day job so that he could write full-time. Years later, Aldington wrote this lecture on Pound and Eliot. In it, he criticises Eliot for his pessimism and for borrowing from sources without acknowledging them. Here, Aldington discusses Dante and the epigraph in The Waste Land.

Richard Aldington, Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot: A Lecture. Reading, Berkshire: The Peacocks Press, 1954. Special Collections PS3531 O82 Z5 AB47

Dante. Poets on the Poets 2

Dante. Poets on the Poets 2

Like Pound and James Joyce, Eliot was greatly influenced by Dante’s works, particularly The Divine Comedy. He considered Dante’s poetry ‘the one universal school of style’ for writing poetry in any language; no other poet ‘stands so firmly as a model for all poets.’ In Dante’s writing, Eliot found ‘lessons for the present time,’ and he admired the way Dante combined style with spiritual direction. In his own work, Eliot attempted to translate the medieval into the modern in order to renovate, restore, and renew.

T. S. Eliot, Dante. Poets on the Poets 2. London: Faber and Faber, 1929. Brasch PQ4390 ED6

Collected Poems, 1909–1935

Collected Poems, 1909–1935

Cover of T. S. Eliot's Collected Poems

T. S. Eliot, Collected Poems, 1909–1935. London: Faber and Faber, 1936. Brasch PS3509 L43 A17 1936

Collected Poems, 1909–1935

Collected Poems, 1909–1935

In Canto III of the Inferno, Dante describes the dark and desolate plain which lies between Hell’s gate and the river Acheron. Upon this plain, the souls of the damned tumultuously wail and cry and futilely chase after a whirling banner; having lived lives devoid of spiritual meaning, they cannot cross into death’s true realms. Drawn from Dante and reflecting the spiritual emptiness of modern existence, Eliot’s hollow men gather in ‘the dead land’ beside the river but cannot cross into ‘death’s other kingdom.’

T. S. Eliot, Collected Poems, 1909–1935. London: Faber and Faber, 1936. Brasch PS3509 L43 A17 1936

The Hollow Men: Epitaph for the 20th Century

The Hollow Men: Epitaph for the 20th Century

In contrast to Dante’s wailing hordes, Eliot’s hollow men are quiet and paralysed. Created in the aftermath of WWI, they mirror modern society: people damaged by war and alienated from God; a culture crumbling and fragmented. The poem is interpreted in this work by Patricia Heidenheimer. On a card included in the slipcase, she writes, ‘The Hollow Men eerily foreshadows the genocide, war, and spiritual emptiness of the twentieth century.’ Heidenheimer’s images are printed from collagraph plates and were ‘conceived as an epitaph for the twentieth century.’

T. S. Eliot, The Hollow Men: Epitaph for the 20th Century. London: Fulcrum Press, 2000. Special Collections PS3509 L43 H6 2000

Parable

Varieties of Parable

Varieties of Parable

When Louis MacNeice delivered the Clark lectures at Cambridge in 1963, he discussed the nature of parable in both his own poetry and a wide range of literary texts, from Spenser’s Faerie Queene to Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. Attracted to such ‘double-level writing,’ MacNeice believed that ‘The best [works] are written on two or more planes at once.’ In such writing, the author creates an enigmatic narrative world which has a meaningful relationship to our real world.

Louis MacNeice, Varieties of Parable. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965. Brasch PN56 A5 M466

Collected Poems

Collected Poems

While it is written in plain language, Edwin Muir’s poetry is often parabolic. When he moved with his family from Orkney to Glasgow, Muir left behind unspoilt Eden and journeyed into the fallen world and was disturbed by what he found there. In his writing, he creates narratives of journeys and labyrinths, good and evil, alienation and paradox, life and death. In Varieties of Parable, MacNeice comments on the metaphorical nature of Muir’s journeys and places and the ‘dream quality’ of his most successful poems.

Edwin Muir, Collected Poems. London: Faber and Faber, 1960. Brasch PR6025 U6 A17 1960

The Trial

The Trial

Parables allow writers to address political concerns indirectly in parallel fictional worlds. In The Trial, Franz Kafka tackles injustice and bureaucratic labyrinths in his nightmarish story of a man who is arrested and brought to trial for a crime which is never revealed. Kafka’s hero cannot reach the officials responsible for his prosecution, and he is mystified by the absurd Kafkaesque proceedings. The text in this edition was translated by Edwin and Willa Muir.

Franz Kafka, The Trial. London: Gollancz, 1937. Brasch PT2621 A26 P7 A25

Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts

Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts

MacNeice suggests that parables often take the form of a quest, in which case Samuel Beckett’s absurdist tragicomedy is ‘a static quest.’ As depicted in the production shot on the cover, Beckett’s two tramps, Vladimir and Estragon, wait and wait for Godot to arrive but he fails to show in either act. Waiting for Godot is, in Vivian Mercier’s words, ‘a play in which nothing happens, twice.’ Beckett’s characters often find themselves in situations that will repeat endlessly and have been compared to personified vices and virtues in medieval mystery plays.

Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot: A Tragicomedy in Two Acts. London: Faber and Faber, 1956. Brasch PQ2603 E378 E5 A2 1956

Romance

The Dark Tower and Other Radio Scripts

The Dark Tower and Other Radio Scripts

For two decades, Louis MacNeice worked for the BBC, writing and producing radio programmes. In ‘The Dark Tower: A Radio Parable Play’ (1946), he re-writes the Childe Roland romance for a post-WWII audience. The mother has already sacrificed her elder sons on this dangerous quest, and now, with talk of duty and sacrifice, she sends her youngest son, Roland, to face the evil of the Dark Tower. MacNeice’s ‘Dark Tower’ first aired on 26 January 1946, with music by Benjamin Britten.

Louis MacNeice, The Dark Tower and Other Radio Scripts. London: Faber and Faber, 1947. Brasch PR6025 A316 D3

The Ebony Tower

The Ebony Tower

‘The Ebony Tower’ is a modern-day medieval romance. The story’s knight is David Williams, a young English painter and art critic who journeys to the old woods of Brittany to interview an older painter Henry Breasley. The epigraph connects Fowles’ story to the Breton lai by quoting lines from Yvain, a twelfth-century romance by Chrétien de Troyes. David’s dangerous quest takes him through strange and magical places and involves ritual tests and a dark tower.

John Fowles, The Ebony Tower. Boston: Little, Brown, 1974. Private Collection

Mayday

Mayday

In 1926, William Faulkner wrote, illustrated, and bound Mayday as a gift for his girlfriend Helen Baird. Parodying medieval romance, Faulkner follows Sir Galwyn of Arthgyl as he seeks the beautiful girl who appeared to him in a vision during his chapel vigil. With Hunger and Pain as his constant companions, Sir Galwyn’s quest takes him to an enchanted forest. He slays a small dragon, encounters Time and Tristram, and briefly loves Yseult, Elys, and Aelia. This image shows the first page of text from Faulkner’s carefully handcrafted book.

William Faulkner, Mayday. Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1976. Central PS3511 A86 M36

The Sun Also Rises

The Sun Also Rises

The Fisher King reappears as Jake in Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. In Grail legends, the Fisher King is wounded in his leg or groin, leaving him impotent and his land infertile, and he spends his time near his castle fishing. Yet the King and his kingdom can be healed if a questing knight asks the right question. Hemingway’s Jake was wounded in the groin in WWI, and his post-war life becomes meaningless. He is able to establish order in his life and potentially redeem and heal himself by going fishing.

Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1927. Special Collections PS3515 E37 S9 1927

The Waste Land

The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound

The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound

Cover of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land

T. S. Eliot (Edited by Valerie Eliot), The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound. London: Faber and Faber, 1971. Brasch PS3509 L43 W3 1971

The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound

The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound

Eliot recycles romance and the Grail legend in his modernist masterpiece The Waste Land. Influenced by Jessie Weston’s From Ritual to Romance, Eliot takes readers on a journey across the waste land of the modern world. In the concluding stanzas, he holds out hope of rebirth and healing, as his Fisher King sits, with ‘the arid plain’ behind him, fishing, asking the right question, and preparing to set his lands in order. Eliot’s published poem owes much to the editing work of Pound, whose changes can be seen in this annotated facsimile and transcript of Eliot’s original drafts.

T. S. Eliot (Edited by Valerie Eliot), The Waste Land: A Facsimile and Transcript of the Original Drafts Including the Annotations of Ezra Pound. London: Faber and Faber, 1971. Brasch PS3509 L43 W3 1971

The Waste Land

The Waste Land

The Waste Land was published first in The Criterion in 1922 and in this first English edition the following year. It is open to the Chapel Perilous passage in Part V. In romance, knights who seek the Grail must enter this frightening and dangerous place and be tested by supernatural forces. Eliot’s chapel, however, is empty; it is home only to the wind. Rather than being an obstacle to the quester, the benign chapel offers hope: a cock crows, lightning flashes, and a gust brings rain to the parched land.

T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land. Richmond: Printed and Published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1923. Special Collections PS3509 L43 W3 1923

The Letters of T. S. Eliot. Vol. I 1898–1922

The Letters of T. S. Eliot. Vol. I 1898–1922

Photograph of T. S. Eliot (1910). From the book The Letters of T. S. Eliot. Vol. I 1898–1922

Edited by Valerie Eliot, The Letters of T. S. Eliot. Vol. I 1898–1922. London: Faber and Faber, 1988. Central PS3509 L43 Z5 A4

Joyce & The Book of Kells

The Book of Kells

The Book of Kells

Cover of The Book of Kells

___, The Book of Kells. London: Studio, 1914. Central PYP Sul. Hewitson Library, Knox College, Dunedin

The Book of Kells

The Book of Kells

The Book of Kells (ca. 800 AD) is a magnificent and vibrantly coloured illuminated manuscript of the Gospels. Its ornate pages combine Celtic knots and interlacing with intricate figures of animals, humans, and mythical beasts. Joyce was familiar with this particular edition; it is likely the one he carried with him around Europe. He wrote to Arthur Power: ‘In all the places I have been to, Rome, Zurich, Trieste, I have taken it about with me, and have pored over its workmanship for hours … some of the big initial letters which swing right across a page have the essential quality of a chapter of Ulysses. Indeed, you can compare much of my work to the intricate illuminations.’

___, The Book of Kells. London: Studio, 1914. Central PYP Sul. Hewitson Library, Knox College, Dunedin

Finnegans Wake

Finnegans Wake

Joyce greatly admired The Book of Kells, and its playfulness and rich beauty influenced his work. In Finnegans Wake, he describes the Tunc page in The Book of Kells which is the right-hand plate in the previous image.

James Joyce, Finnegans Wake. London: Faber and Faber, 1960. Central PR6019 O9 F59 1960

Pomes Penyeach

Pomes Penyeach

In 1932, Joyce republished Pomes Penyeach as a limited edition volume. In this later, handcrafted book, he imitated the work of medieval monks, handwriting the text of the poems and using his daughter Lucia’s illuminations of the initial letters for each poem.

James Joyce, Pomes Penyeach. Paris: Shakespeare Company, 1927. Brasch PR6019 O9 P5

Irish Myth & Folklore

Early Irish Lyrics: Eighth to Twelfth Century

Early Irish Lyrics: Eighth to Twelfth Century

Buile Suibhne (The Madness/Frenzy of Sweeny) tells the story of Sweeny, pagan King of Dal Araidhe in Ulster, whose ill-tempered actions are punished with a curse. Sweeny becomes mad and travels through Ireland, living in tree tops like a bird and composing poems about his location and fate. As ‘Suibne in the Woods’ opens, Sweeny comes to rest on a branch.

Edited and translated by Gerard Murphy, Early Irish Lyrics: Eighth to Twelfth Century. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956. Central PB1351 E33

At Swim-Two-Birds

At Swim-Two-Birds

Flann O’Brien (Brian O’Nolan) includes his own translations of Buile Suibhne in At Swim-Two-Birds.

Flann O’Brien, At Swim-Two-Birds. London: MacGibbon & Kee, 1960. Brasch PR6029 N56 A93 1960

Cathleen ni Hoolihan: A Play in One Act and in Prose

Cathleen ni Hoolihan: A Play in One Act and in Prose

A leading figure in the Irish Literary Revival, Yeats made new material drawn from Irish myth and folklore. In Cathleen ni Hoolihan, Yeats uses an allegorical figure from Jacobite poetry: Cathleen ni Hoolihan as Ireland. She first appears as ‘The Poor Old Woman,’ who complains that her land has been taken from her, and she wants it back. While any man who helps her sacrifices everything, he ‘shall be remembered forever.’ Leaving the cottage, she is transformed into ‘a young girl’ with ‘the walk of a queen.’

W. B. Yeats, Cathleen ni Hoolihan: A Play in One Act and in Prose. London: A. H. Bullen, 1902. Brasch PR5904 C37

Deirdre

Deirdre

The story of Deirdre was originally part of the medieval Ulster Cycle.

W. B. Yeats, Deirdre. Stratford-upon-Avon: Shakespeare Head Press, 1914. Special Collections PR5904 D4 1914

Stories of Red Hanrahan and The Secret Rose

Stories of Red Hanrahan and The Secret Rose

W. B. Yeats’ fictional character Owen ‘Red’ Hanrahan is based on the Irish bard Owen Roe O’Sullivan. To create his wandering hedge-schoolmaster, Yeats draws on the bardic tradition and folklore surrounding the legendary O’Sullivan. In the 1920s, Yeats republished the collected stories of his Owen. Impressed by Norah McGuinness’ stage design for a production of one of his plays, Yeats invited her to illustrate the stories with Modernist paintings employing a style influenced by Byzantine art.

W. B. Yeats, Stories of Red Hanrahan and The Secret Rose. London: Macmillan, 1927. Brasch PR5904 S76 1927

Myth & Legend

Ulysses

Ulysses

James Joyce uses classical mythology as a framework for Ulysses. He transposes characters and episodes from Homer’s Odyssey to Dublin on 16 June 1904. Homer’s heroic central characters, Odysseus/Ulysses, Penelope, and Telemachus, become the more ordinary, less heroic Leopold and Molly Bloom and Stephen Dedalus. Homer’s ever-changing Mediterranean setting is replaced by the squalor and monotony of modern Dublin. While writing the novel, Joyce gave the chapters classical titles (Nestor, Proteus, Cyclops, etc.), but he cut these before the text was published.

James Joyce, Ulysses. Paris: Shakespeare and Company, May 1927. Brasch PR6019 O9 U422

Mornings in Mexico

Mornings in Mexico

Mornings in Mexico is a collection of travel essays, which incorporates Mexican myth and history. In the first essay, D. H. Lawrence describes two malevolent parrots as they mimic the yapping of a dog, and Corasmin, the ‘little fat, curly white dog,’ who appears resigned to their shrieking – and the heat and his fleas. The narrator realises that the thoughts he is projecting onto Corasmin belong to a different cycle of evolution. Quickly rejecting the evolutionary view, he prefers the Aztec account of successive suns and the convulsive ‘bang’ of history.

D. H. Lawrence, Mornings in Mexico. London: Martin Secker, 1927. Brasch PR6023 A93 M67

The Anathemata: Fragments of an Attempted Writing

The Anathemata: Fragments of an Attempted Writing

Welsh poet David Jones defines anathemata as things ‘made over to the gods,’ things devoted, donated, and dedicated. He records fragments and remains of cultural traditions, from the rituals of Mass to Rugby Union rules. His materials come from British and European myth, literature, history, and legend, and he acknowledges the composite tradition of Britain, with its Celtic, Imperial Roman, Saxon, and Christian roots. The Anathemata is a complex, allusive poem exploring cultural artefacts and themes of empire and resistance.

David Jones, The Anathemata: Fragments of an Attempted Writing. London: Faber and Faber, 1952. Brasch PR6019 O53 A8

Neoplatonism

Select Works of Plotinus

Select Works of Plotinus

Neoplatonism is a philosophical tradition which can be traced back to the third-century philosopher Plotinus. Chiefly influenced by Plato, Plotinus taught the concept of ‘the One’ beyond being and non-being. He identifies his transcendent One as the source of life and with Good and Beauty. Plotinus’ writings inspired medieval mystics and theologians, Renaissance philosophers, and modernist poets. His translator G. R. S. Mead called for a return to Plotinean values and asked that his readers find in Plotinus ‘a guide’ to ‘lead us by a safe path to … supernal realms.’

Plotinus, Select Works of Plotinus. London: Bell, 1914. Brasch B693 A4 E5 1914

The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats

The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats

Plotinus’ influence can be seen in Yeats’ poem ‘Among School Children.’ In the final line, Yeats asks, ‘How can we know the dancer from the dance?’ He models his question on Plotinus’ discussion of the One as containing no division or distinction; the One is beyond any distinction between subject and object and between knower and the known. Yeats’ image of the dancer and the dance is an image of unity and inseparability in a moment in time.

W. B. Yeats, The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats. London: Macmillan, 1950. Brasch PR5900 A17 1950

A Vision: An Explanation of Life Founded upon the Writings of Giraldus and upon Certain Doctrines Attributed to Kusta Ben Luka

A Vision: An Explanation of Life Founded upon the Writings of Giraldus and upon Certain Doctrines Attributed to Kusta Ben Luka

A Vision is a curious philosophical, historical, and astrological work. As the subtitle suggests, Yeats claims as his sources Qusta ibn Luqa (820–912) and one ‘Giraldus,’ whose book was printed in Cracow in 1594 and whose portrait faces the title page. Yeats’ Giraldus is a ‘mask,’ a fiction, whose philosophy and identity is in keeping with Renaissance neoplatonists, and A Vision amalgamates ideas Yeats collected from neoplatonism, astrology, occult literature, and Eastern religion. Six hundred copies of this edition were numbered and signed; this copy is no. 437.

W. B. Yeats, A Vision: An Explanation of Life Founded upon the Writings of Giraldus and upon Certain Doctrines Attributed to Kusta Ben Luka. London: Privately Printed for Subscribers only by T. Werner Laurie, 1925. Brasch PR5904 V53

The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and The Imagists

The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and The Imagists

Photograph of W. B. Yeats (1910). From the book The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and The Imagists

Helen Carr, The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and The Imagists. London: Jonathan Cape, 2009. Central PR605 I6 C943

Medieval Motifs

Bilder des Todes

Bilder des Todes

Cover of Hans Holbein's Bilder des Todes

Hans Holbein, Bilder des Todes. Leipzig: Insel-Verlag, 1917. Brasch NE1150.5 HP94 A4 1917

Bilder des Todes

Bilder des Todes

Danse Macabre (the Dance of Death) is a medieval motif of death’s universality. The Dance of Death unites the whole of humanity, regardless of the position one may hold in life. In Hans Holbein’s woodcuts, Death accosts all manner of people: no one can escape his bony grasp. In ‘Der Artzet’ (The Physician), Death takes the elderly doctor by the hand and places a flask in the outstretched hand of the younger man on the left, who will continue the physician’s work. In ‘Der Münch’ (The Monk), the holy man tries to do a runner, but Death catches him by the cowl.

Hans Holbein, Bilder des Todes. Leipzig: Insel-Verlag, 1917. Brasch NE1150.5 HP94 A4 1917

Flowers of Evil

Flowers of Evil

While writing Les Fleurs du Mal, Charles Baudelaire kept on his desk two inspirational art works: a set of engravings by Alfred Rethel depicting a more modern, ironic, and hostile Danse Macabre; and a skeleton statuette sculpted by Ernest Christophe. With left hand positioned jauntily on her hip, the female skeleton wears a gown, is garlanded with flowers, and, right arm slightly bent, cradles a mask of flesh, looking as though she were about to attend a masquerade. In his poem ‘Danse Macabre,’ Baudelaire’s skeletal coquette is perfumed, elegant, and alluring as she leads humanity in a grotesque Danse Macabre.

Charles Baudelaire, Flowers of Evil. New York: Printed for the Members of the Limited Editions Club, 1971. Special Collections PQ2191 F6 A2 1971

Ship of Fools

Ship of Fools

Title page of Katherine Anne Porter's Ship of Fools.

Katherine Anne Porter, Ship of Fools. Boston: Little, Brown, 1962. Central PS3531 O752 S5

Ship of Fools

Ship of Fools

In her author’s note, Katherine Anne Porter mentions the medieval source for her title: Sebastian Brant’s Das Narrenschiff, a satirical poem, especially critical of corruption in the Church. She was taken with ‘this simple almost universal image of the ship of this world on its voyage to eternity.’ She assembles a party of disparate characters, who sail from Mexico to Europe on the Vera, a German passenger-ship. In this microcosm of life, Porter treats contemporary political events and human weaknesses and vices.

Katherine Anne Porter, Ship of Fools. Boston: Little, Brown, 1962. Central PS3531 O752 S5

The Muse

The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth

The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth

The classical Muse inspired poets, singing through them and their work, but, as the centuries passed, her form began to change. Drawing on European myth and poetry, Robert Graves constructed an elaborate and idiosyncratic myth around the White Goddess, an idealised, powerful deity, a single goddess who has been worshipped under many names and whom he identified with the Muse, the source of all poetry. To illustrate her continuing influence in English poetry, Graves quotes John Skelton’s ‘Garland of Laurell.’

Robert Graves, The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth. New York: Creative Age Press, 1948. Special Collections PN1077 GS12 1948a

To Circumjack Cencrastus; or, The Curly Snake

To Circumjack Cencrastus; or, The Curly Snake

Hugh MacDiarmid’s Muse is a Gaelic muse. Born Christopher Murray Grieve, he began using the pseudonym ‘Hugh MacDiarmid’ with poetry he wrote in Scots, a language which had flourished in Scotland before the 1701 Union with England. During the 1920s Scottish Renaissance, MacDiarmid encouraged Scottish writers to write in an eclectic Scots, ‘synthetic Scots’ or ‘Lallans,’ thus recovering a distinctive national consciousness, voice, and culture. Appropriately, he gives his heart to a Gaelic Muse, claiming kinship to Yeats and the Gaelic poet Alasdair Mac Mhaighstir Alasdair and urging a Gaelic revival.

Hugh MacDiarmid, To Circumjack Cencrastus; or, The Curly Snake. Edinburgh: William Blackwood, 1930. Brasch PR6013 R735 C45

The Bone Chanter: Unpublished Poems 1945–72

The Bone Chanter: Unpublished Poems 1945–72

In his early poetry, James K. Baxter employed traditional poetic ideas and diction concerning the Muse, but, in his later verse, the ‘beautiful and gracious goddess of poetry’ becomes ugly and fearsome (Geoffrey Miles). In ‘The Muse’ (1961), Baxter borrows a darker image from The White Goddess: Graves describes the Muse as ‘the ancient power of fright … the female spider … whose embrace is death.’ Baxter’s poet wakes to the weight of his Muse sitting beside him on the bed, ‘An old black hag with red arachnoid eyes.’

James K. Baxter, The Bone Chanter: Unpublished Poems 1945–72. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976. Special Collections PR9641 B3 B6

Hagiography

The Flowering of the Rod

The Flowering of the Rod

Biographies of holy people or saints were an important literary genre in the early church. H. D. reinterprets this religious genre in her feminist revision of Mary Magdalene. Believing that women are marginalised in and written out of Biblical texts, H. D. reclaims and reinvents Mary Magdalene, conflating her with other Biblical Marys – Mary, mother of Christ and Mary of Bethany (‘Marys a-plenty’) – and the Egyptian goddess Isis. Written as the world emerged from the trauma of WWII, the poem’s Mary identifies herself with myrrh, a healing balm that can be applied to traumatic injuries, a female-centred spirituality that can heal the world’s wounds.

H. D. [Hilda Doolittle], The Flowering of the Rod. London: Oxford University Press, 1946. Brasch PS3507 O726 F55

Murder in the Cathedral

Murder in the Cathedral

Eliot retells the story of Thomas Becket’s martyrdom in this modernist saint’s life and adaptation of medieval liturgical drama. Setting his verse drama in the days leading up to Becket’s assassination by four of the King’s knights, Eliot dramatises the conflict between Becket (the Archbishop of Canterbury) and Henry II, and explores issues of faith, politics, and the common good. He portrays Becket’s internal struggle as he faces four tempters and must overcome the spiritual threat posed by the Fourth Tempter, who offers martyrdom for the ‘wrong reason,’ for the everlasting glory it promises.

T. S. Eliot, Murder in the Cathedral. London: Faber and Faber, 1935. Brasch PS3509 L43 M8

Stepping Heavenward: A Record

Stepping Heavenward: A Record

Stepping Heavenward is ostensibly a scholarly account of the life of Blessed Jeremy Cibber, first American beatified, who converted England to Catholicism. It is, however, a savage satire on Aldington’s former friend T. S. Eliot. Jealous of Eliot’s celebrity, Aldington supported Vivienne Eliot as the Eliots’ marriage disintegrated. Aldington makes thinly veiled references to Eliot’s life; for example, Cibber takes a job in a haberdashery, as Eliot took one in Lloyd’s bank. Cibber is a ‘cool fish,’ and, as his wife, Adele Paleologue, is driven into ‘wild neurasthenia,’ ‘their quarrels were conducted on coldly intellectual lines.’ Aldington brutally mocks Eliot’s drift into religion.

Richard Aldington, Stepping Heavenward: A Record. Florence: G. Orioli, 1931. Special Collections PR6001 L4 S73 1931

The Catholic Church

Thomas Aquinas: Selected Writings

Thomas Aquinas: Selected Writings

Thirteenth-century Thomas Aquinas has greatly influenced Western theology and philosophy. His teachings are used by Stephen, in Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, to develop his aesthetic theory, which Stephen calls ‘applied Aquinas.’

Thomas Aquinas, Thomas Aquinas: Selected Writings. London: J. M. Dent, 1939. Brasch BX890 TE66 1939

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius

Loyola was the founder and first Superior General of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). He wrote this set of meditations and spiritual exercises in the 1520s, for people looking for spiritual direction and to strengthen their faith. Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises are often practised during religious retreats like the one Stephen attends in Portrait of the Artist.

St. Ignatius of Loyola, The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Dublin: James Duffy, 1850. Brasch BX2179 L7 E5 1850

Ithaca: Selections from The Odyssey, Ulysses

Ithaca: Selections from The Odyssey, Ulysses

This volume of selections from Ulysses was published by Pear Tree Press, a private press established in 1988 by Tara McLeod. Pear Tree Press publishes limited edition hand-printed letterpress books and prints. The Special Collections’ copy of Ithaca is no. 15 of 20. It is opened to a list of subjects Bloom and Stephen deliberate, including the Roman Catholic Church and Jesuit education.

James Joyce, Ithaca: Selections from The Odyssey, Ulysses. Auckland: Pear Tree Press, 1997. Special Collections PR6019 O9 U42 1997

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Cover of James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Leipzig: B. Tauchnitz, 1930. Brasch PR6019 O9 P6

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Joyce was educated by the Jesuits at Clongowes Wood College and Belvedere. Although he left the church, his imagination continued to be structured and shaped by Catholic tradition. On the pages displayed here, Joyce refers to Aquinas and Loyola, quoting Aquinas’ Summa Theologica and Loyola’s Constitution of the Society of Jesus. The Latin quotations can be translated: ‘Those things are beautiful that please the eye,’ ‘The good inheres in what is desired,’ and ‘Like an old man’s walking stick.’

James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Leipzig: B. Tauchnitz, 1930. Brasch PR6019 O9 P6

Church Art & Architecture

Ravenna Mosaics: The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Cathedral Baptistery, the Archiepiscopal Chapel, the Baptistery of the Arians, the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare Nuova, the Church of San Vitale, the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare in Classe

Ravenna Mosaics: The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Cathedral Baptistery, the Archiepiscopal Chapel, the Baptistery of the Arians, the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare Nuova, the Church of San Vitale, the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare in Classe

The sixth-century church Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo.

Giuseppe Bovini, Ravenna Mosaics: The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Cathedral Baptistery, the Archiepiscopal Chapel, the Baptistery of the Arians, the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare Nuova, the Church of San Vitale, the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare in Classe. Oxford: Phaidon, 1978. Central NA3780 BS35 1978

Ravenna Mosaics: The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Cathedral Baptistery, the Archiepiscopal Chapel, the Baptistery of the Arians, the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare Nuova, the Church of San Vitale, the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare in Classe

Ravenna Mosaics: The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Cathedral Baptistery, the Archiepiscopal Chapel, the Baptistery of the Arians, the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare Nuova, the Church of San Vitale, the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare in Classe

When he went to Ravenna, Yeats visited the sixth-century church Sant’ Apollinare Nuovo and was inspired by the lush and magnificent rows of mosaics lining its walls. One row depicts a long procession of martyred saints, who move towards the figure of Christ seated on his throne and flanked by four angels. Part of that procession is displayed here. In ‘Sailing to Byzantium,’ these figures become Yeats’ ‘sages standing in God’s holy fire,’ ‘the singing-masters’ of his soul.

Giuseppe Bovini, Ravenna Mosaics: The Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, the Cathedral Baptistery, the Archiepiscopal Chapel, the Baptistery of the Arians, the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare Nuova, the Church of San Vitale, the Basilica of Sant’ Apollinare in Classe. Oxford: Phaidon, 1978. Central NA3780 BS35 1978

The Tower

The Tower

If time travel was possible, Yeats says that he would spend his ‘month of antiquity … in Byzantium a little before Justinian opened St. Sophia and closed the Academy of Plato’ (A Vision). He believed that the early Byzantines achieved a perfect union of ‘religion, aesthetic, and practical life.’ In ‘Sailing to Byzantium,’ he travels to Byzantium in his imagination, and art transforms him into a golden bird, singing a song of ‘unaging intellect’ and beauty.

W. B. Yeats, The Tower. London: Macmillan, 1928. Brasch PR5904 T69

Neue Gedichte

Neue Gedichte

Inspired by medieval art and Gothic architecture, Rainer Maria Rilke composed the Cathedral Cycle for New Poems. Influenced by Auguste Rodin’s sculptures and Paul Cézanne’s still-lifes, Rilke’s poems lyrically recreate architectural objects as verbal ones, revealing the internal vitality and value of the object and conveying to the reader ‘the experience of seeing them anew, intensely and dynamically as they are in their innermost core’ (Marielle Sutherland). In the Cathedral Cycle, Rilke recreates a Gothic cathedral with its architectural and sculptural details: the figure of an angel (with a sun dial), a portal, a rose window, and a capital.

Rainer Maria Rilke, Neue Gedichte. Leipzig: Insel-Verlag, 1930. Brasch PT2635 I65 N48 1930

The Dark Night of the Soul

The Dark Night of the Soul

The Dark Night of the Soul

Carmelite friar John of the Cross composed this mystical poem around the time he was imprisoned by Carmelites opposed to his reforms in the Order. The poem narrates the soul’s journey from its bodily home to its union with God. The journey is made during the night, which represents the various difficulties and sufferings the soul undergoes as it leaves the world behind and reaches the light of divine union. The dark night of the soul refers to a spiritual crisis in this journey towards union with God.

San Juan de la Cruz [Saint John of the Cross], The Dark Night of the Soul. London: John M. Watkins, 1905. Brasch BV5080 JM8

Four Quartets

Four Quartets

Eliot wrote three of the Four Quartets while WWII raged around him. In the midst of this destruction, Eliot meditates on man’s relationship with time and the divine, turning to various poetic and mystical works in his search for understanding. In his spiritual journey, he recycles the language, images, and symbols of St John of the Cross, such as ‘the ten stairs’ on ‘the mystical ladder of divine love.’

T. S. Eliot, Four Quartets. London: Faber and Faber, 1944. Special Collections PS3509 L43 F6 1944

A Witness Tree

A Witness Tree

Robert Frost was troubled by loss, grief, and depression, and his poetry explores questions of existence and human experience. In ‘The Lesson for Today,’ he is engaged in an imaginary discussion with medieval scholar Alcuin of York about whose age is the darkest. He suspects that every age has darkness, some injustice or woe: ‘One age is like another for the soul,’ and earth is ‘a hard place in which to save the soul.’ Prompted by such thoughts and mindful of Alcuin’s epitaph, Frost writes the words for his own headstone: ‘I had a lover’s quarrel with the world.’

Robert Frost, A Witness Tree. London: Jonathan Cape, 1943. Brasch PS3511 R94 W57

The Pisan Cantos

The Pisan Cantos

Because he publicly supported Mussolini’s fascism and broadcast his opinions on Radio Rome, Pound was arrested for treason by American forces after the war. Confined outdoors in a small reinforced wire cage at a military detention centre near Pisa, Pound experienced a dark night of the soul; his desolation is evident in many lines of his Pisan Cantos. Embarking on an intellectual and spiritual journey, the imprisoned Pound retrieves materials from his memory, cultural and linguistic fragments, in a spiritual quest for transcendence and enlightenment.

Ezra Pound, The Pisan Cantos. London: Faber and Faber, 1949. Brasch PS3531 O82 P5

Modernism's Precursors

The Poetical Works of Robert Browning. Vol. V

The Poetical Works of Robert Browning. Vol. V

Robert Browning specialised in dramatic verse. In dramatic monologues such as ‘My Last Duchess,’ Browning’s narrators reveal their situation and character, not so much by what they say directly, but by what they unintentionally give away about themselves. Browning leaves it to the reader of these psychological portraits to assess the narrator and the views he expresses. Browning’s dramatic monologues influenced many modernist writers, including Frost and Joyce, by the way he developed a stream-of-consciousness technique and emphasised the revelation of character.

Robert Browning, The Poetical Works of Robert Browning. Vol. V. London: Smith, 1889. Brasch PR4200 1889

Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins. 2nd ed.

Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins. 2nd ed.

Gerard Manley Hopkins experimented with language and prosody. Hopkins’ language is striking. In ‘The Windhover,’ he describes the ‘dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon,’ compounding adjectives and playing with alliteration and assonance. Admiring the bird’s mastery as it hovers in the air while hunting its prey, controlling the wind, before it swoops downwards, Hopkins’ bird is a metaphor for Christ and divine epiphany. Turning away from conventional poetic metres, Hopkins explored new rhythms, especially sprung rhythm, anticipating the free verse employed by modernists.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins. 2nd ed.. London: Oxford University Press; Humphrey Milford, 1930. Brasch PR4803 H44 A17 1930

Of the Friendship of Amis and Amile

Of the Friendship of Amis and Amile

William Morris refashioned Victorian art, printing, and typography by recycling medieval and romantic motifs and technologies. He founded the Kelmscott Press to create beautiful books using exemplars from the medieval period and print technology, type styles, and decorations from the fifteenth century. His work inspired the private press movement. He translated the French romance Of the Friendship of Amis and Amile in 1894 and printed 500 copies. Amis and Amile are loving friends who cannot be separated even in death: when they are killed in battle and buried apart, their coffins are found together the next morning.

William Morris, Of the Friendship of Amis and Amile. Hammersmith: Kelmscott Press, 1894. Special Collections PQ1425 A35 E49

The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry

The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry

Early modernists admired Walter Pater’s work and looked to it for their philosophy, forms, and techniques. Pater brought individual consciousness and experience into the foreground, influencing the subjective, stream-of-consciousness writing of the modernists. In his ‘Conclusion’ to The Renaissance, he is fascinated by the continual drift of momentary impressions, images, and sensations through an individual’s mind.

Walter Pater, The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry. New York: Macmillan, 1899. Brasch NX449 P924

Marius the Epicurean: His Sensations and Ideas

Marius the Epicurean: His Sensations and Ideas

In Marius, Pater examines philosophical ideas, sensations, and moments of vision as Marius tries to arrest ‘clauses of experience.’

Walter Pater, Marius the Epicurean: His Sensations and Ideas. London: Macmillan, 1939. Brasch PR5134 M3 1939

Unattended Moments

The Dry Salvages

The Dry Salvages

Cover of T. S. Eliot's The Dry Salvages

T. S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages. London: Faber and Faber, 1941. Brasch PS3509 L43 D7

The Dry Salvages

The Dry Salvages

Pater’s secular moments of transcendence were carried on by modernist writers. In The Dry Salvages, Eliot refers to ‘the unattended / Moment, the moment in and out of time.’ In Stephen Hero, Joyce calls such a moment an epiphany, ‘a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself.’ His character Stephen believes that writers should ‘record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that they themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments.’

T. S. Eliot, The Dry Salvages. London: Faber and Faber, 1941. Brasch PS3509 L43 D7

The Prelude, or, Growth of a Poet’s Mind

The Prelude, or, Growth of a Poet’s Mind

Title page and frontispiece of William Wordsworth's The Prelude.

William Wordsworth, The Prelude, or, Growth of a Poet’s Mind. London: J. M. Dent, 1928. Brasch PR5864 1928

The Prelude, or, Growth of a Poet’s Mind

The Prelude, or, Growth of a Poet’s Mind

Perhaps these spiritual moments originated in what William Wordsworth calls ‘spots of time.’ In his semi-autobiographical poem The Prelude (1850), Wordsworth reflects on his developing vocation as a poet, recapturing memories and re-experiencing past feelings. He describes how formative moments shape our identities and character. These moments give ‘profoundest knowledge’ and have a ‘renovating virtue.’ They continue to lift us up and nourish and repair ‘our minds.’

William Wordsworth, The Prelude, or, Growth of a Poet’s Mind. London: J. M. Dent, 1928. Brasch PR5864 1928

A La Recherche du Temps Perdu. Tome I

A La Recherche du Temps Perdu. Tome I

Marcel Proust’s moments are often instances of involuntary memory, triggered by a sensory experience. In In Search of Lost Time (or Remembrance of Things Past), the best-known example is a memory prompted by the taste of a madeleine (a small cake). In volume one, Swann’s Way, displayed here, the narrator believes that he has only one memory of his childhood visits to Combray, until, years later, a madeleine dipped in tea touches his palate: a shudder runs through him, an exquisite pleasure invades his senses, and suddenly a memory reveals itself. He remembers the taste of the madeleine his aunt Léonie gave him on Sunday mornings at Combray.

Marcel Proust, A La Recherche du Temps Perdu. Tome I. [Paris]: Gallimard, 1954. Private Collection

Lord Jim: A Tale

Lord Jim: A Tale

Joseph Conrad calls his visionary moments ‘moments of awakening.’ He describes these moments in Lord Jim as moments ‘when we see, hear, understand ever so much – everything – in a flash – before we fall back again into our agreeable somnolence.’

Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim: A Tale. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1957. Brasch PR6005 O4 L6 1957

Youth and Two Other Stories

Youth and Two Other Stories

Title page of Joseph Conrad's Youth and Two Other Stories.

Joseph Conrad, Youth and Two Other Stories. New York: McClure, Phillips, 1903. Special Collections PR6005 O4 Y68 1903

Youth and Two Other Stories

Youth and Two Other Stories

In his psychological novels, Conrad’s narrators experience inner battles of good and evil. They struggle to grasp the significance of the events they relate and struggle to make themselves understood. In ‘Heart of Darkness,’ the narrator is fascinated with the mysterious and evil Kurtz and recalls the ‘supreme moment of complete knowledge’ Kurtz has before he dies, ‘The horror! The horror!’

Joseph Conrad, Youth and Two Other Stories. New York: McClure, Phillips, 1903. Special Collections PR6005 O4 Y68 1903

The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad

The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad

Photograph of Joseph Conrad (1904) by Charles Beresford. From the book The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad

John Stape, The Several Lives of Joseph Conrad. New York: Pantheon Books, 2007. Central PR6005 O4 Z5 SH24 2007

To the Lighthouse. 1st edition

To the Lighthouse. 1st edition

Title page of Virginia Woolf's To the Lighthouse

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse. 1st edition. London: Published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1927. Special Collections PR6045 O72 T6 1927

To the Lighthouse. 1st edition

To the Lighthouse. 1st edition

Virginia Woolf attempts to fix ‘moments of being’ amidst life’s ‘incessant shower of innumerable atoms.’ Her visionary moments are not ‘great revelations’; rather, she describes them as ‘little daily miracles, illuminations, matches struck unexpectedly in the dark.’ Despite their everyday character, these ‘moments of being’ have ‘inexplicable significance’ in Woolf’s work. In To the Lighthouse, Woolf’s Lily Briscoe experiences such moments as she completes her portrait of Mrs Ramsay and James; her work allows her to reconstruct the past and reveal its inner meaning.

Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse. 1st edition. London: Published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press, 1927. Special Collections PR6045 O72 T6 1927

Virginia Woolf

Virginia Woolf

Photograph of Virginia Woolf (1902) by George Beresford. From the book Virginia Woolf

James King, Virginia Woolf. London: Hamish Hamilton, 1994. Central PR6045 O72 Z5 KH5

Of Time and the River: Young Faustus, Telemachus

Of Time and the River: Young Faustus, Telemachus

In his autobiographical novel Of Time and the River, Thomas Wolfe relates the life story of Eugene Gant, who leaves his home town in North Carolina, attends Harvard University, teaches English in New York, and travels in Europe. Wolfe’s fictional self meditates on time and the creative process. He believes that the artist is motivated by an ‘intolerable desire to fix eternally in the patterns of an indestructible form a single moment of man’s living, a single moment of life’s beauty, passion, and unutterable eloquence, that passes, flames and goes.’

Thomas Wolfe, Of Time and the River: Young Faustus, Telemachus. New York: Scribner, 1965. Central YL WoIYo H

The Garden Party and Other Stories

The Garden Party and Other Stories

In her Journal, Katherine Mansfield describes a ‘timeless’ moment, in which ‘the whole life of the soul is contained,’ a moment when ‘one is flung up - out of life - one is “held”.’ Elsewhere, she writes about the ‘blazing moment’ and the significant ‘glimpses’ it provides. Her short stories record the flow of experience, interrupted by such arresting moments of insight. In stories such as ‘The Garden Party’ and ‘Miss Brill,’ these visionary moments unify the plot, themes, and character, providing ‘central points of significance’ (Mansfield).

Katherine Mansfield, The Garden Party and Other Stories. London: Constable, 1928. Brasch PR9640 M35 G3 1928

Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings

Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings

In some modernist writing, there are non-moments or anti-epiphanies: epiphanies that do not happen. Jorge Luis Borges records one such non-moment in his short story ‘Averroes's Search.’ Borges’ Averroes (twelfth-century Muslim philosopher Ibn Rushd) is translating Aristotle’s Poetics into Arabic, but he is struggling to define drama since he has never seen a play. Arranging elements in his story, Borges prepares his character for a moment of understanding, but Averroes fails to grasp the significance of what he has seen and heard. In this story, Borges draws on European and Eastern scholarship and literature, inventively making it new.

Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972. Brasch PQ7797 B635 A29 1970

Walls

La Prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France

La Prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France

In 1913, Blaise Cendrars published his La Prose du Transsibérien, a poem telling of his trip in 1905 on the newly opened Trans-Siberian Express railway. The work is a supreme example of European Modernism, a product of simultaneisme, which promoted the concept of the continuous present. It is a collaborative work, with images (including the Eiffel Tower) by artist Sonia Delaunay. The original edition unfolds to over six feet in length, and, according to legend, if the proposed edition of 150 copies were laid end to end, they would be as tall as the Eiffel Tower. In reality some 60 were produced; only seven are recorded as held in institutions. This copy is reproduced from the Yale University Press facsimile, 2009.

Blaise Cendrars, La Prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009 (facsimile). Private Collection

Dyson Sphere

Dyson Sphere

___

M. C. Escher, Dyson Sphere. ___, [1953]. ___

W. B. Yeats: A Life. II: The Arch-Poet 1915–1939

W. B. Yeats: A Life. II: The Arch-Poet 1915–1939

Photograph of Ezra Pound (1930s). From the book W. B. Yeats: A Life. II: The Arch-Poet 1915–1939

R. F. Foster, W. B. Yeats: A Life. II: The Arch-Poet 1915–1939. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003. Central PR5906 FR32

The Book of Kells

The Book of Kells

The decorations in The Book of Kells often involve traditional Christian iconography. The illuminations here portray the symbols of the Four Evangelists: a man (Matthew), a lion (Mark), an eagle (John), and an ox (Luke), each of the figures is winged. Curiously, in Joyce’s Ulysses, these symbols appear on the citizen’s ‘muchtreasured and intricately embroidered ancient Irish’ handkerchief. In his description, Joyce playfully gives Matthew ‘a bogoak sceptre’ instead of a lance, replaces the (British) lion with ‘a North American puma’ and the ox with ‘a Kerry calf,’ and says that the eagle is from Carrantuohill.

___, The Book of Kells. London: Studio, 1914. Central PYP Sul. Hewitson Library, Knox College, Dunedin

The Shyp of Fooles

The Shyp of Fooles

When Sebastian Brant published Das Narrenschiff (The Ship of Fools), the poem was illustrated with woodcuts designed by several artists including the young Albrecht Dürer. The immensely popular images whimsically depict a range of foolish and sinful behaviours. The figures in them wear fools’ caps shaped like an ass’s ears with bells on their tips. In this image, the fools are crowded together in small boats steered by fools and headed for Narragonia, the Land of Fools.

___, The Shyp of Fooles. ___, 1509. ___

Blast 1 [June 20th, 1914]

Blast 1 [June 20th, 1914]

Edited by Wyndham Lewis, Blast featured work by Vorticist writers and artists. It ‘Blasted’ or ‘Blessed’ various places, people, and things, sometimes blasting and blessing the same thing. The shocking pink cover is split by the title, which is strikingly positioned diagonally from top left to bottom right and appears in large black caps. Pound referred to the ‘new Futurist, Cubist, Imagiste quarterly’ as the ‘great MAGENTA cover’d opusculus [small or minor work].’

Edited by Wyndham Lewis, Blast 1 [June 20th, 1914]. Santa Rosa, California: Black Sparrow Press, 1981. Special Collections PR6023 E97 Z5 B52 1981

West Façade, Chartres Cathedral, France

West Façade, Chartres Cathedral, France

Rilke's Cathedral Cycle describes an idealised Gothic Cathedral with various architectural and sculptural details. For Rilke, the cathedral embodies the spirit of the middle ages. While the smiling angel with a sun dial is specifically linked to Chartres Cathedral, the other details – a portal, a rose window, and a capital – are universal and imagined. In this image of the west façade of Chartres Cathedral, two of those features can be seen: the rose window, which depicts the Last Judgement; and, beneath it, the portal, with its sculpted theological images.

___, West Façade, Chartres Cathedral, France. ___, ___. ___

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