Conclusions? Rainbow’s End: The Janus Period

  • Ruth Robbins
Part of the Transitions book series (TRANSs)


The title of this chapter has several points of reference. In the first instance, it relates to the titles of novels by E. M. Forster and D. H. Lawrence, Howards End and The Rainbow respectively. But the rainbow’s end is also a mythological place — it does not exist, but if it did, and you were ever to find it, there would be a pot of gold there. As I have argued, the usual history of the late Victorians, the Edwardians and the Georgians is one which presents the late Victorians as belated, more minor figures than their immediate forebears, and as much less significant than their inheritors. Modernism, the story goes, is the pot of gold at the end of the Victorian rainbow. Modernism, however, did not come from nowhere. Many of the conditions of modernity were Victorian in origin and the Victorians were the first to confront them. Although there may be a kind of Oedipal resistance to the acknowledgement of the influence wielded by the forefathers and foremothers of the Modernist novel and Modernist poetry, the story of Modernism’s development is certainly one of transitions and continuities, not of sudden breaks with the past. Making it new depends absolutely on knowledge of the past. And the 1890s had already made it new, proliferating uses of the word ‘new’ as Holbrook Jackson demonstrated in 1913 (Jackson 1987, 23).


Suez Canal Sudden Break Inanimate Matter Realist Tradition Realist Fiction 
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© Ruth Robbins 2003

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  • Ruth Robbins

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