Rebecca L. Walkowitz argues that modernist literary style has been crucial to new ways of thinking and acting beyond the nation. While focusing on modernist narrative, Walkowitz suggests that style, conceived expansively as attitude, stance, posture, and consciousness, helps to explain many other, nonliterary formations of cosmopolitanism in history, anthropology, sociology, transcultural studies, and media studies. Walkowitz shows that novelists James Joyce, Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, Salman Rushdie, Kazuo Ishiguro, and W. G. Sebald use the salient features of literary modernism to explore different versions of transnational thought, question moral and political norms, and renovate the meanings of national culture and international attachment. Joyce, Conrad, and Woolf developed a repertoire of narrative strategies at the beginning of the twentieth century that were transformed by Rushdie, Ishiguro, and Sebald at the end. By deploying literary tactics of naturalness, triviality, evasion, mix-up, treason, and vertigo, these six novelists promote ideals of democratic individualism within collective projects of antifascism and anti-imperialism. In this unique and engaging study, Walkowitz brings to the forefront the artful idiosyncrasies and political ambiguities of twentieth-century modernist fiction.
About the Author: Rebecca L. Walkowitz is associate professor of English and director of the seminar on modernism and globalization at Rutgers University. She is the editor or coeditor of several anthologies, including Immigrant Fictions: Contemporary Literature in an Age of Globalization; Bad Modernisms; and The Turn to Ethics.