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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Thursday, January 21, 2010

From Rough Notes to Prose

Here are some rough notes

This project.... aims to answer a central question.... the relation between literary modernism and the phenomenon of modernity... in Spain. While literary modernism as such could not have come into existence without modernity, it should be seen as as much a reaction against modernity as a celebration of it (Octavio Paz).

Modern Spanish poetry offers some peculiarties that make it both distinctively Spanish (rooted in debates surrounding national identity) and representative of other “peripheral” modernisms. I argue that these peripheral modernism are as central, in some respects, as those of France or the English-speaking world. Especially Latin America (relevant to my project) but also modernisms that take place Cavafy’s Alexandria or Pessoa’s Lisbon.

You'll notice that the first sentence of the second paragraph is pretty much a good sentence. My aim today is to turn these notes into something that's actually prose.

Here's version II:

The General Research Fund would aid in the completion of a book manuscript that I began in the summer of 2009. This project, Fragments of a Late Modernity: Spanish Poetry and the Paradoxes of Literary History, addresses a key problem in Spanish literary and intellectual history: the relation between modernism as a literary movement and the much-debated problem of Spain’s “struggle for modernity.” Although literary modernism is unimaginable without modernity in the historical sense of the term, it is a movement characterized by a deep ambivalence (if not outright hostility) toward the forces of modernization themselves. The tension between modernity and modernism creates a unique opportunity for exploring problems in literary and intellectual history.

Modern Spanish poetry offers some peculiarities that make it both distinctively Spanish (in other words, rooted in debates surrounding national identity) and representative of other “peripheral” modernisms. Latin America is especially relevant to my project, given the close literary ties between Spain and the rest of the Spanish-speaking world. Other examples of peripheral modernisms can be located in Pessoa’s Lisbon or Cavafy’s Alexandria. My premise is that such peripheral modernisms—the modernisms of less developed nations—evince their ambivalence toward modernity in especially distinctive and fascinating ways.


Vance Maverick said...

How do you decide to stop revising?

Jonathan said...

When I'm happy with it or the grant deadline falls--whichever comes first.

Vance Maverick said...

Outside the grant applications process, or anything else imposing tight tight deadlines, I wonder. Were you "happy with" everything in the Lorquismo book? I'd be impressed if you were....I suspect that you had to do some satisficing. Me, I find that trying to revise till I'm happy with the text is a recipe for delay and gradual pejorization.

Jonathan said...

I was happy enough at some particular moment with everything. Not necessarily all at the same time. I am not so happy now with a few things in the Lorca book but over all I am happy with it holistically speaking.