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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 ‘Eschatology’: Futurism, Expressionism, Decadent Modernism

Lateness as ‘Eschatology’: Futurism, Expressionism, Decadent Modernism

(p.307) 17 Lateness as ‘Eschatology’: Futurism, Expressionism, Decadent Modernism
Lateness and Modern European Literature

Ben Hutchinson

Oxford University Press

The final category of modernist lateness is the category of final things. Implicit throughout all the forms of lateness explored in this study is their evocation of mortality and finitude; pushed to its logical extreme, this evocation finds ultimate expression in the ultimate ending. Taking its cue from Frank Kermode’s The Sense of an Ending, Chapter 17 surveys a broad range of modernist modes of eschatology. After brief consideration of postwar English literature of the 1920s, the chapter focuses on the Expressionist anthology Menschheitsdämmerung—the very title of which suggests the ambivalence that characterizes eschatological modes of lateness—before discussing related movements including the Futurists and the Italian crepuscolari. The chapter then moves through texts by Apollinaire, Yeats, and Karl Kraus, before concluding with an extended discussion of Djuna Barnes’ Nightwood as an example of ‘decadent modernism’ that ultimately refuses the escape hatch of eschatology.

Keywords:   eschatology, modernism, Frank Kermode, Expressionism, futurism, Crepuscolari, Guillaume Apollinaire, W.B. Yeats, Karl Kraus, Djuna Barnes

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