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This review is taken from PN Review 3, Volume 4 Number 3, April - June 1978.

A NEW CRITICAL GENRE Malcolm Bradbury and James McFarlane (editors), Modernism 1890-1930, Penguin, £1.75.

This compilation-and the ponderous word is the right one-establishes a new critical genre: the University Departmental Critical Anthology. In this genre, all significant knowledge of a subject is found to be concentrated geographically, in this case at the University of East Anglia. Of the twenty-two contributors, eleven teach in the Schools of English and American and European Studies there; one American has Visited, and no doubt there are other connections. Among contributions by half-a-dozen of the better-known outsiders, Alan Bullock's is perfunctory, David Lodge's was long ago published elsewhere, and Graham Hough's has all the persuasive elegance of his committed anti-modernism.

Modernism is 684 pages long, and is clearly intended for undergraduates studying the literature of 1890-1930 in, preferably, the way it is done at UEA. Since it is a teaching book, we can ask if a student would learn to write well about the subject, after reading the introductory chapters by Professor Bradbury and Professor McFarlane. Here is an explanatory passage written jointly by the editors:


Our own concentration in this book is therefore on the period before 1930, even though the lines of demarcation here cannot be clear, for the broader view of Modernism we have offered must suggest an extraordinary range of continuities through into present art. There is a further reason for this concentration; for perhaps one of the most remarkable features of this period between 1890 and 1930 is the extraordinary galaxy of talent that we find there. ...


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