By E. Tonning
By theorising the assumption of 'formative tensions' among cultural Modernism and Christianity, and by means of in-depth case experiences of James Joyce, David Jones, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, W. H. Auden, Samuel Beckett, the e-book argues that no coherent account of Modernism can forget about the ongoing impression of Christianity.
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Extra resources for Modernism and Christianity
From very early childhood, Jones’s extraordinary artistic talent was evident, and his parents eventually allowed him from the age of 14 to attend the Camberwell School of Arts and Crafts: Jones’s sense of an artistic vocation was by the end of his time there so strong that he refused to sit for an art teacher’s examination and expected to forego marriage due to his commitment to the unremunerative ﬁne arts (Dilworth 2012: 31). At this point, war broke out, and a deﬁning feature of Jones’s experience as a young man would be his participation as a private soldier in the Royal Welch Fusiliers during the Great War of 1914–18.
At its base was a ‘skilful retooling’ (Schloesser 2005: 6) of traditional Catholic ideas such as hylomorphism (Aristotelian interrelation of matter and form), sacramentalism (the capability of created things to act as efﬁcacious signs of the work of a transcendent Creator) and transubstantiation (bread and wine becoming Body and Blood in substance, accidents remaining). , positivism and historicism; literary grotesqueries; pictorial prostitutes, beggars and clowns; musical chromaticism, passions, and dissonance) had seemed incompatible with a religion deﬁned in opposition to those elements.
All “ideologies” or “philosophies” deﬁned themselves as either the end or the beginning of an era’ (71). One complex case of the interaction of occultist epochal thinking with the re-imagination of Christian history and dogma (surveyed in Chapter 3 of this book) is that of Ezra Pound, who is also a major focus of Surette’s wider research. While Pound’s occultism started from the kind of anti-Christian ‘secret histories’ described by Surette, there is also a period of his career as a Fascist propagandist for Mussolini’s Italy (explicitly from about 1936) where he adopted a more welcoming, appropriative approach to the Catholic Church, claiming that aspects of the secret tradition of the Eleusinian mysteries had survived within the Church, and that the real ‘Old Testament’ of Christianity was not actually the Hebrew scriptures (supposedly tainted by Jewish ‘usury’), but rather pagan antiquity itself.