ENGL 797H: Special Studies in Literature: Modernist Fiction: 'Difficult Music'
'It was like difficult music heard for the first time.' -- Samuel Beckett
'Beauty of music you must hear twice' -- James Joyce
The purpose of this course is to work closely with the texts of some key modern authors and to explore the ways in which the formal innovations of their writing may be related to developments in cultural history. Arguments about history, sexuality, language, politics and economics may be traced, in varying proportions, in both the matter and the manner of construction of all the specified texts, which have been chosen in order to demonstrate a characteristic variety of artistic and political outlooks.
The reading list will include:
Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness
James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
D. H. Lawrence, Women in Love
Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse
Katherine Mansfield, Stories
Samuel Beckett, Murphy
This course is available for graduate credit as English 897H.
Rod Mengham is Reader in Modern English Literature at the University of Cambridge, where he is also Curator of Works of Art at Jesus College. He is the author of books on Charles Dickens, Emily Brontë and Henry Green, as well as of The Descent of Language (1993). He has edited collections of essays on contemporary fiction, violence and avant-garde art, and the fiction of the 1940s, and was co-editor and co-translator of Altered State: the New Polish Poetry (Arc, 2003), and co-editor of Vanishing Points: New Modernist Poems (Salt Publishing, 2005). His own poems are collected under the title Unsung: New and Selected Poems (Salt Publishing, 2001). He has recently edited a book on contemporary fiction, and co-authored a book concerning Hardy's short stories. He has also been working on a collection of essays concerning art criticism and literature.