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Lateness and Modern European Literature$
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Ben Hutchinson

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198767695

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198767695.001.0001

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Lateness as ‘Myth’: T.S. Eliot, Eugène Jolas, Gottfried Benn, Hermann Broch

Lateness as ‘Myth’: T.S. Eliot, Eugène Jolas, Gottfried Benn, Hermann Broch

(p.288) 16 Lateness as ‘Myth’: T.S. Eliot, Eugène Jolas, Gottfried Benn, Hermann Broch
Lateness and Modern European Literature

Ben Hutchinson

Oxford University Press

Chapter 16 explores lateness as myth. Ernst Robert Curtius argues that ‘mythology is a late product’; viewed in these terms, the modernist deployment of myth can be described as symptomatic of the late style of modernity yearning for its youth. If late style, in its critical construction, represents an attempt to create ‘a myth of synchrony’ that transcends the obvious differences between given artists, modernism as an aesthetic of lateness pursues the synchrony of myth. Focusing in particular on the example of Gottfried Benn, this chapter investigates the ways in which ‘the late ego’—the title of one of Benn’s poems—shores fragments of mythology against its own ruin. Proceeding through discussions of Erich Neumann’s Jungian interpretation of late style and Hermann Broch’s reading of lateness as ‘the style of the mythical age’, the chapter argues that modernist literature can be understood as a ‘late homecoming’ to its mythical sources.

Keywords:   modernism, myth, T.S. Eliot, Eugène Jolas, Gottfried Benn, Hermann Broch, Erich Neumann

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