The Twentieth-Century Dyad



With the Modernist focus upon inner experience, where incidents from the past involuntarily surge into the mind triggered either by mental association or by the promptings of some suppressed anxiety, time in terms of a fixed calendar or of a regularly advancing chronometer disintegrates. Even before Freud, Bergson had prepared the way by his identification of subjective chronology — durée réelle, he termed it — as being ultimately more valid than the measured variety. He had even, with remarkable foresight, suggested in his Time and Free Will (1889) that such a conception of inner time might form the basis for a new type of fiction, more true to human experience than traditional modes:

Now, if some bold novelist, tearing aside the cleverly woven curtain of our conventional ego, shows us under this appearance of logic a fundamental absurdity, under this juxtaposition of simple states an infinite permeation of a thousand different impressions which have already ceased to exist the instant they are named, we commend him for having known us better than we knew ourselves.1


Human Psyche Double Meaning Mental Association Freudian Theory Modernist Pattern 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Henri Bergson, Time and Tree Will, trans. F. L. Pogson (New York, 1970), p. 133. For connections between Modernist poetics and philosophy, see Sanford Schwartz, The Matrix of Modernism: Pound, Eliot, and early twentieth-century thought (Princeton, 1985). The centrality of the new time concept in Modernism is discussed in A. A. Mendilow, Time and the Novel (London, 1952), Ricardo J. Quinones, Mapping Literary Modernism: time and development (Princeton 1985), and Matei Calinescu, Pive Paces of Modernity (Durham, 1987).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    P. Wyndham Lewis, Time & the Western Man (London, 1927), p. 179.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Virginia Woolf, Orlando (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1945), p. 58, and her essay, ‘Modern Fiction’, reprinted in The Common Reader (New York, 1935), p. 155.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Jean Piaget, Genetic Epistemology (New York, 1970), especially pp. 48f.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    William Faulkner, The Sound and the Pury (New York, 1946), pp. 96, 99.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Henri Bergson, L’Energie spirituelle (Paris, 1938), p. 49.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Jonathan Culler (ed.), On Puns: the foundation of letters (Oxford, 1988) is a collection of essays based upon the conference. There is also a discussion of wordplay in literature inGoogle Scholar
  8. Derek Attridge, Peculiar Language: literature as difference (Ithaca, 1988), especially pp. 188f.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Walter Redfern, Puns (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1984) is a somewhat flippant account of the history of punning.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Sigmund Freud, ‘Fragment of an Analysis’, in Collected Papers, ed. Ernest Jones (London, 1943), 3:79n.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Quoted in Dawn Ades, Dali (London, 1988), p. 126.Google Scholar
  12. 13.
    Peter Gay’s fine biography, Freud: a life for our time (New York, 1988) provides a vivid account of the chronological development of the theories.Google Scholar
  13. 15.
    Cf. Michel Foucault’s essay, This is Not a Pipe, trans, and ed. James Hark-ness (Berkeley, 1982), the French original published in its earliest form in 1968; andGoogle Scholar
  14. W. J. T. Mitchell, Picture Theory (Chicago, 1994), pp. 64f.Google Scholar
  15. 18.
    James Joyce, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York, 1956), p. 179.Google Scholar
  16. 19.
    Hugh Kenner, The Pound Era (Berkeley, 1971), pp. 96f.Google Scholar
  17. 21.
    For further instances, see John Gordon, James Joyce’s Metamorphoses (Dublin, 1981).Google Scholar
  18. 22.
    Frederick J. Hoffman, Freudianism and the Literary Mind, whose main theme is the effect of Freudian theory on literature, dismisses the concern with wordplay in Wit and its Relation to the Unconscious as insignificant in its effect on twentieth-century literature (p. 10). Similarly, Stanley Edgar Hyman, The Armed Vision: a study in the methods of modern literary criticism (New York, 1955), p. 251, dismisses any relationship of Empson’s work to Freud as minor, and William K. Wimsatt, Jr. and Cleanth Brooks, Literary Criticism: a short history (New York, 1967), pp. 638f., refers only to his ‘psychological’ concern with the reader’s reaction to ambiguities.Google Scholar
  19. 23.
    Frank Lentricchia, After the New Criticism (Chicago, 1980), p. xiii.Google Scholar
  20. 24.
    George Saintsbury, The Peace of the Augustans (Oxford, 1946), p. 67, first published in 1916. In the preface to the second edition of Empson’s Seven Types of Ambiguity: a study of its effects in English verse (New York, 1955), p. xiv, he specified that one of his main aims had been to counter the impression that the first business of a student of literature is the passing of a ‘judgement of value’, rather than a close analysis of the way words and phrases function within a literary work.Google Scholar
  21. 27.
    Cf. Jacques Lacan, Ecrits: a selection (London, 1977), and The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psycho-Analysis (London, 1977).Google Scholar
  22. 29.
    I. A. Richards, The Philosophy of Rhetoric (London, 1936).Google Scholar
  23. 30.
    I. A. Richards, The Philosophy of Rhetoric op. cit., p. 40. Cleanth Brooks, The Well-Wrought Urn: studies in the structure of poetry (New York, 1947).Google Scholar
  24. 32.
    In Brooks’ Modern Poetry and the Tradition (Oxford, 1965, orig. 1939), p. 235.Google Scholar
  25. 33.
    Quotations from T. S. Eliot, Selected Essays, 1917–32 (London, 1949), pp. 282, 294.Google Scholar
  26. 35.
    Ford Madox Ford, The Good Soldier: a tale of passion (New York, 1955), pp. 6–7.Google Scholar
  27. Alan Wilde, Horizons of Assent: modernism, postmodernism, and the ironic imagination (Baltimore, 1981), notes Modernism’s acknowledgment of the irreconcilable and fundamental diversities in life.Google Scholar
  28. 36.
    Virginia Woolf, Moments of Being (London, 1985), p. 108.Google Scholar
  29. 37.
    Virginia Woolf, Diary, ed. Anne O. Bell (London, 1948), 5:249.Google Scholar
  30. 38.
    D. H. Lawrence, The Rainbow (Harmondsworth, 1958, orig. 1915), pp. 462–3. The Freud quotation is from his essay on Infantile Sexuality’ in Three Contributions to the Theory of Sex. Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Murray Roston 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bar Ilan UniversityRamat GanIsrael

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