Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Literary Modernism and the Occult Tradition
Leon Surette and Demetres P. Tryphonopoulos, Editors
$20 | paper | 218 pp.
National Poetry Foundation
ISBN: 9780943373416

SOLD OUT! LAST 2 COPIES! Nonfiction. Poetics. Literary Criticism. This collection of essays is posited on the conviction that mythical, ecstatic and revelatory topoi in the modernist works of Yeats, Eliot, Williams, H.D., Pound, Joyce, et al, are motivated not by a sceptical and positivistic dismissal of the religious past—as implausibly maintained by the New Criticism—but rather these features arise out of a radical and reformist attempt to revive ancient pagan religious sensibilities. In essence, the modern occult amounts to a neo-pagan piety that is polytheistic, fleshly, erotic and ecstatic—opposed to a Christian or Jewish piety that's monotheistic, otherworldly, ascetic and revealed. In short, the occult manifests itself in modernist literature in what Nietzsche would have called a Dionysian guise—confused because of its rejection of Judeo-Christian sensibilities with a sceptical secularism. Among the dozen contributors here are Peter Liebregts, John Coggrave, Barry Ahearn, Leonora Woodman, M. Anthony Trembly and Archie Henderson.
(If you don't want to buy it from SPD, click here.)

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