Early modernists turned to theories of consciousness and aestheticism to combat what they saw as the hostility of naturalism and to find new ways of thinking about reality. This consciousness took various forms, including a Jamesian sense of moral ambiguity, Proustian time spots, and B ergsonian intuition, but the Nietzschean theory that reality depends on perception connected them all. This modernist movement reached a distinguished level of achievement with novelists Thomas Mann, Marcel Proust, and James Joyce, but a succession of counterinfluences transformed it after World War II, when elitism and a desire for a homogeneous culture gave way to diversity and elements of mass culture. In Literary Modernism and Beyond, Richard Lehan tracks the evolution of the movement from its emergence in the late nineteenth century to its recent incarnations.
Richard Lehan is professor emeritus of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. The recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and a Fulbright award, he is the author of many articles and books, including The City in Literature: An Intellectual and Cultural History; Realism and Naturalism: The Novel in an Age of Transition; and Literary Modernism and Beyond: The Extended Vision and the Realms of the Text.
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