Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Top ten European modernists

Hurray for Tom McCarthy's top 10 European modernists list. Who could imagine Blanchot getting an unfatuous mention in a national daily newspaper? Yet here is one. Thanks be given to Tom McCarthy (and the editor who didn't insist on a replacement). Maybe a reader will be inspired to drop On Chesil Beach and to pick up The Writing of the Disaster instead.

I have to agree with the statement that "Modernism is not a movement, nor even a way of thinking, but an event: an event with which any serious writer has, in some way or another, to engage, and to which they should respond." But. Always a but. But my list would coincide only with said Blanchot, Beckett, Kafka, Celan and Heidegger. I would replace the remaining five with Benjamin, Proust, Borges, Kierkegaard and ... Dante. The event is eternal, interminable.

Notice: two philosophers, two novelists, two poets, two short story writers, two literary critics. Modernism trespasses.


  1. Shakespeare friend. And because we do: Homer!

    The Hood Company

  2. Anonymous11:04 am

    I would agree with fourteen of the writers mentioned, but Heidegger? It's nonsense. To think of Heidegger as the inheritor of Plato is to dimiinish Plato to those aspects of his work that were obscurantist and politically reprehensible. It's also to elevate by assocaition someone who just wasn't a very good philosopher.

  3. Anonymous11:12 am

    You don't find this categorising of literature as Modernist a bit irrelevant? If we can say someone is a Modernist they become more exalted? Imposing silly categories upon literature. "Now I am reading Kafka, I am readnig a great Modernist text. Now I am reading de Lampedusa, I am not reading a Modernist text. Now I am reading Dante, I am again reading a Modernist text. Now I am reading Shakespeare, etc." It all strikes me as a kind of silly exercise in pointless categorising.

  4. "You don't find this categorising of literature as Modernist a bit irrelevant?"


    But I was bored and it's a bit of fun and someone like me 20 years ago would have used it to explore the library rather than picking up the latest "The Adjective of Noun" novel by Sophie Wannabe-Newsnight-Review-panellist.

  5. "The Love of Success"?

  6. Anonymous4:07 pm

    Well, I spose we all tend to love a list.
    Human Being: Two legged mammal which enjoys making and debating of lists.

  7. Yes. I should point out that Borges is ineligible, not being European. D'oh!



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