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Literature, Modernism, and Dance$
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Susan Jones

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199565320

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199565320.001.0001

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Two Modern Classics

Two Modern Classics

The Rite of Spring and Les Noces

(p.109) 5 Two Modern Classics
Literature, Modernism, and Dance

Susan Jones

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines two modern ‘classic’ dance works in the context of British modernism. The Rite of Spring (1913) and Les Noces (1923) were both commissioned by Diaghilev with music by Stravinsky. Exploring the seminal modernism of The Rite of Spring and its impact on the work of D. H. Lawrence, the discussion draws attention to Lawrence's direct allusions to the primitivist aesthetic and quasi-anthropological theme of the ballet in his fiction and interpretations of psychoanalysis. The second half of the chapter turns to Les Noces, which, despite a poor reception in Britain in 1926, was championed by H. G. Wells for its contemporaneity and dynamic modernism. Bronislava Nijinska (Nijinsky's sister), who choreographed and produced the ballet, reveals in interview the extent to which her creative methods were influenced by Soviet constructivism. But a close analysis of the ballet also shows how her critique of marriage was ultimately compatible with the modernism of British writers including Dorothy Richardson and Virginia Woolf.

Keywords:   primitivism, constructivism, Stravinsky, Nijinsky, Niinska, Lawrence, Wells, Woolf

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