By Theodore Ziolkowski
The triumph of avant-gardes within the Twenties has a tendency to dominate our discussions of the tune, artwork, and literature of the interval. however the broader present of modernism encompassed many activities, and some of the most certain and influential used to be a flip to classicism.
In Classicism of the Twenties, Theodore Ziolkowski bargains a compelling account of that circulate. Giving equivalent awareness to track, artwork, and literature, and focusing particularly at the works of Stravinsky, Picasso, and T. S. Eliot, he indicates how the flip to classicism manifested itself. In response either to the excesses of neoromanticism and early modernism and to the horrors of global battle I—and with respectful detachment—artists, writers, and composers tailored subject matters and types from the prior and attempted to imbue their very own works with the values of simplicity and order that epitomized previous classicisms.
By opting for parts universal to all 3 arts, and thoroughly situating classicism in the broader sweep of modernist events, Ziolkowski offers a refreshingly unique view of the cultural lifetime of the Twenties.
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Extra resources for Classicism of the Twenties: Art, Music, and Literature
Déesse dont le culte signifie raison et sagesse, toi dont le temple est une leçon éternelle de conscience et de sincérité, j’arrive tard au seuil de tes mystères. (O nobility, o true and simple beauty! ) The reason and order upon which the perfect beauty of Greece was based were appropriated and spread by the Romans and, subsequently, by the Catholic Church, which Maurras, himself an agnostic, respected as being more Roman than Christian. 47 It was Fichte, he was convinced, who had deformed French thought by injecting into philosophy, politics, literature, and painting the undefined and the amorphous.
Since he recognizes in his own mind the totality of all existence—that Fichtean identity that Maurras deplored—he regards any art that restricts itself to the single and the individual as trivial. Torn between his metaphysical and artistic needs, he seeks a unity of art and mysticism. “All the artistic efforts and oddities and confused phantasies of the Romantic stream from this source” (5). It is the problem of the romantic work of art to organize the chaos of this “all-oneness” (6; “Alleinheit”).
It is worth noting that a trip to Greece alone did not always suffice to turn contemporaries toward classicism or against romanticism. Unlike Maurras, who experienced his epiphany on the Acropolis, or Renan, who was moved to his earlier Prière sur l’Acropole, two German writers who visited Greece in the first decade of the century had utterly different reactions. When the dramatist Gerhart Hauptmann, who had not benefited from a classical education, experienced in 1907 his “Greek Spring” (Griechischer Frühling, 1908), he almost aggressively resisted anything that might smack of the “weakly Graecicizing, the bloodless love for a bloodless Greece,”73 that he attributed to the scholars he sometimes encountered there.
Classicism of the Twenties: Art, Music, and Literature by Theodore Ziolkowski