This book explores the uncanny afterlife of modernist ideals in the second half of the twentieth century. Rejecting the familiar notion that modernism dissolved during the 1930s, it argues that the fusion of rationalism and mysticism which characterises modernist poetics was sustained long after its politics had been discredited by the events of World War Two.
The book's central concern is why the aesthetic mysticism that Walter Benjamin called the faith of those 'who made common cause with Fascism' continued to be a guiding principle for literary elites and countercultural movements alike. New light is shed on the relationship between occultism and the Pound tradition, especially in terms of Pound's influence on post-1945 Anglo-American poetry, and a critical theory of 'late modernism' is offered which shows how belated notions of cultural redemption have survived in contemporary poetry.
This wide-ranging contextual study focuses on the poetry of Ezra Pound, Charles Olson, Paul Celan, and J H Prynne, and explores the development of modernist culture through its theories of phenomenology, psychoanalysis, science, ethnography, and ancient history. -- .
Anthony Mellors is a Research Fellow in English at the University of Central England -- .
Introduction 1. Hermetic poetry and Late modernism 2. Cunning man: Ezra Pound and secret wisdom 3. Maximal extent: Charles Olson and C G Jung 4. Shamanism and the poetics of Late modernism: J H Prynne 5. The spirit of poetry: Heidegger, Trakl, Derrida and Prynne 6. Obscurity, fragmentation and the uncanny in Prynne and Celan -- .