Literary critics who are into modernism have this unfortunate habit of claiming everything and anything as modernist. I wanted to see how far that would fly with Eddison, who is after all profoundly un-modern and has little in common with the Eliots, the Joyces and the Woolfs despite being active in the same general period. Hence the construction of a theory of modernism based on the difficulty of the text and its relationship to social context – an area where there is some overlap between Eddison and the high modernists – and an application to the most straightforward of Eddison’s novels. Think of it as a Venn diagram – an attempt to identify the extent of the overlap – rather than an act of claiming. Alternatively, think of it as a demonstration that anything’s modernist if you squint.
If I were to work/publish on Eddison again it would be a very different kettle of fish. This one was enjoyable to write but it doesn’t grapple with the craft of writing to the extent that I’d like. It is also not as well written as I would like: very British, very reluctant to state a clear case. I don’t know if today’s ultra-theoretical circuit really has an interest in a dissection of Eddison’s highly specific similes from a purely craft perspective. If by any chance there is a department, publisher or other sponsor of research out there who is into that sort of thing, I’m generally not doing much between October and March – how about it?