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Modernist FraudHoax, Parody, Deception$
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Leonard Diepeveen

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198825432

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198825432.001.0001

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Modernists Reading Themselves

Modernists Reading Themselves

(p.118) 5 Modernists Reading Themselves
Modernist Fraud

Leonard Diepeveen

Oxford University Press

Chapter 5 begins with an extended examination of Edith Sitwell’s interactions with her critics and her baffling formalist analyses of her own works. Sincerity, in early modernism, was under contestation. While initially apologists tended to claim sincerity for modernism either as self-expression or as accurate rendering of perception, sincerity became increasingly based on self-consciousness and methodology, based on ideas of development and professionalism. Modernism’s defenders increasingly moved intent to the sidelines, with the following arguments: that modernist works had articulable meaning; that the province of real criticism proceeded from a general acknowledgement of the artwork’s autonomy; that it was inappropriate for criticism to consider intent; and that forms of doubleness like contradiction, paradox, and irony were central not just to modernism but to all great art. In short, the defenses of modernism’s apparent fraud modulated into an aesthetic discourse based on formalism, New Criticism, and the intentional fallacy.

Keywords:   Edith Sitwell, formalism, self-expression, autonomy, intentional fallacy

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