Joyce Piell Wexler Who Paid for Modernism?

ISBN 13: 9781557284457

Who Paid for Modernism?

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9781557284457: Who Paid for Modernism?
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Examining the ways the publishing experiences of Conrad, Joyce, and Lawrence affected their fiction, Wexler draws on diverse sources of evidence to challenge some of the myths of modernism.

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Modernist authors faced a dilemma in trying to find their place in the expanding publishing industry of the early twentieth century. As the literary market grew, the possibility of monetary success increased. At the same time, the spectacle of many inferior writers becoming rich made serious artists renounce popularity in favor of a discriminating minority audience. Modernist authors were haunted by the contradictions in Gustave Flaubert's model of the author as professional; writers had a higher aim than money, yet they expected to be paid for their work. Modernists resolved this dilemma by addressing both issues: they made their fiction difficult, to demonstrate their indifference to sales, and they generated publicity to attract patrons and readers. Who Paid for Modernism? examines how three modernist authors - Joseph Conrad, James Joyce, and D. H. Lawrence - coped with the contradictory models of authorship they inherited. All three wished to reach a wide audience, produce an impact on society, and make a living from their writing, but they found that these aims were incompatible with maintaining their artistic integrity. While the literal answer to the question "Who paid for modernism?" is that patrons, literary agents, and commercial publishers paid authors, there is also a figurative answer. Authors themselves paid for modernism by giving up the wide audience their ambitions desired and their talents deserved.

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