• Five Faces of Modernity: Modernism, Avant-garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Postmodernism

    Pages: 422
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  • 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

    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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  • Description

    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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