Five Faces of Modernity

Modernism, Avant-garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Postmodernism

Five Faces of Modernity

Book Pages: 422 Illustrations: Published: June 1987

Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism

Five Faces of Modernity is a series of semantic and cultural biographies of words that have taken on special significance in the last century and a half or so: modernity, avant-garde, decadence, kitsch, and postmodernism. The concept of modernity—the notion that we, the living, are different and somehow superior to our predecessors and that our civilization is likely to be succeeded by one even superior to ours—is a relatively recent Western invention and one whose time may already have passed, if we believe its postmodern challengers. Calinescu documents the rise of cultural modernity and, in tracing the shifting senses of the five terms under scrutiny, illustrates the intricate value judgments, conflicting orientations, and intellectual paradoxes to which it has given rise.
Five Faces of Modernity attempts to do for the foundations of the modernist critical lexicon what earlier terminological studies have done for such complex categories as classicism, baroque, romanticism, realism, or symbolism and thereby fill a gap in literary scholarship. On another, more ambitious level, Calinescu deals at length with the larger issues, dilemmas, ideological tensions, and perplexities brought about by the assertion of modernity.



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Table of Contents Back to Top
Preface to the Second Edition xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 3

The Idea of Modernity

Modern Dwarfs on the Shoulders of Ancient Giants 13

The Problem of Time: Three Eras of Western History 19

It Is We Who Are the Ancients 23

Comparing the Moderns to the Ancients 26

From Modern to Gothic to Romantic to Modern 35

The Two Modernities 41

Baudelaire and the Paradoxes of Aesthetic Modernity 46

Modernity, the Death of God, and Utopia 58

Literary and Other Modernisms 68

Comparing the Moderns to the Contemporaries 86

The Idea of the Avant-Garde

From Modernity to the Avant-Garde 95

The "Avant-Garde" Metaphor in the Renaissance: A Rhetorical Figure 97

The Romantic "Avant-Garde": From Politics to the Politics of Culture 100

Some Mid-Nineteenth-Century Writers and the Avant-Garde 108

Two Avant-Gardes: Attractions and Repulsions 112

Avant-Garde and Aesthetic Extremism 116

The Crisis of Avant-Garde's Concept in the 1960s 120

Avant-Garde, Dehumanization, and the End of Ideology 125

Avant-Garde and Postmodernism 132

Intellectualism, Anarchism, and Stasis 144

The Idea of Decadence

Versions of Decadence 151

From "Decadence" to "Style of Decadence" 157

The Decadent Euphoria 171

Nietzsche on "Decadence" and "Modernity" 178

The Concept of Decadence in Marxist Criticism 195

Il Decadentismo 211


Kitsch and Modernity 225

Kitsch, Camp, and High Art 229

Etymology, Contexts of Usage, and the "Law of Aesthetic Inadequacy" 232

Kitsch and Romanticism 237

Bad Taste, Ideology, and Hedonism 240

Some Stylistic Considerations 249

Kitsch and Cultural Industrialization 255

The "Kitsch-Man" 259

On Postmodernism (1986)

A New Face of Modernity 265

Epistemology and Hermeneutics: From Modernity to Postmodernity 269

The Silence of the Avant-Garde 275

The Novelty of the Past: The View from Architecture 279

Critiques of Postmodernism 288

Literary Postmodernism: The Shaping of a Corpus 296

Postmodernist Devices and Their Significance 302

Notes 313

Selected Critical Bibliography 365

Index 387
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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-0767-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-0726-6
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