Modernism and the Ordinary overturns conventional accounts of the modernist period as primarily drawn toward the new, the transcendent, and the extraordinary. Liesl Olson shows how modernist writers were preoccupied, instead, with the unselfconscious actions of everyday life, even in times of political crisis and war. Experiences like walking to work, eating a sandwich, or mending a dress were often resistant to shock, and these daily activities presented a counter-force to the aesthetic of heightened affect with which the period is often associated. With attentive readings, Modernism and the Ordinary examines works by Joyce, Woolf, Stein, Stevens, Proust, Beckett, and Auden alongside the ideas of philosophers such as Henri Bergson and William James. With attentive and sensitive readings, Modernism and the Ordinary examines works by Joyce, Woolf, Stein, Stevens, Proust, Beckett, and Auden alongside the ideas of philosophers such as Henri Bergson and William James.In doing so, the book reveals the non-transformative power of the ordinary as one of modernism's most compelling attributes: day-to-day experience comes to stand not as an impediment to the creative life, but as a satisfaction with the material rather than the spiritual, the local rather than the exotic, the constant rather than the unknown, and the democratic rather than the privileged.; The book intervenes in new debates about object theory, daily life, and the accurate definition of literary modernism.
ABBREVIATIONS; INTRODUCTION; I. James Joyce and the Realism of the Ordinary; II. Virginia Woolf and the "cotton wool of daily life"; III. Gertrude Stein, William James, and Habit in the Shadow of War; IV. Wallace Stevens' Commonplace; V. Conclusion; NOTES; BIBLIOGRAPHY