Early Modernism is a uniquely integrated introduction to the great avant-garde movements in European literature, music, and painting at the beginning of this century, from the advent of Fauvism to the development of Dada.
In contrast to the overly literary focus of previous studies of modernism, this book highlights the interaction between the arts in this period. It traces the fundamental and interlinked re-examination of the languages of the arts brought about by Matisse, Picasso, Schoenberg, Eliot, Apollinaire, Marinetti, Ben, and many others, which led to radically new techniques, such as atonality, cubism, and collage. These changes are set in the context both of the art that preceded them and of a new and profound shift in ideas. Theories of the unconscious, the association of ideas, primitivism, and reliance upon an expressionist intuition led to a reshaped conception of personal identity, and Butler examines the representation of the modernist self in the work of figures including Mann, Joyce, Conrad, and Stravinsky.
Accessible and wide-ranging, the book is lavishly illustrated with over sixty illustrations, many in color. It provides an elegant and incisive guide to a momentous period in the history of European art.
'This new book offers a deeper analysis of how changes in artistic technique relate to shifts in thought.'
Frances Spalding, Sunday Times
'an outstandingly readable survey of writing, painting and music in Europe'
Michael Horovitz, New Statesman & Society
`a refreshingly generous and generally sensitive account of the early influences on, and the development of, the Modernist movement. ... a serious book which deserves a wide and attentive readership.'
Times Higher Education Supplement
`an excellent guide for both staff and students engaged in "Modernism" courses ... no university library should be without it.'
Wyndham Lewis Annual
... an invaluable companion to early 20th-century European history and essential reading for students of modernism and the debates of post-modernism.'
Art Book Review Quarterly
'... Butler's elegant exposition is a good place to start.'
BBC Music Magazine. Oct 94
`a learned, readable and wonderfully informative study of the origins, over 80 years ago,of the avant-garde culture that is now a social institution.'
The Tablet, Books of the Year
`a refreshingly generous and generally sensitive account of the early influences on, and the development of, the Modernist movement.'
Times Higher Education Supplement
`'it is an excellent guide for both staff and students engaged in "Modernism" courses - and a useful corrective for those who think they understand what artistic modernism was ...generously illustrated - especially so if the paperback price ... is borne in mind: no university library should be without it ... It is a measure of Christopher Butler's critical balance that he gives Lewis the painter ... an important place in the British contribution to European
modernism. Anyone interested in either modernism or the postmodern should read it.'
Dennis Brown, Wyndham Lewis Annual'
Notes December 1995
`This is a much-needed book...It is to Christopher Butler's credit that he is admirably cautious in his respect for the dangers and limits of analogy-tracing when it comes to certain surface thematic and technical similarities...Quite understandably for a study of this length, coverage is extremely selective, but judiciously so.'
Comparative Criticisms 18
`This book is just the sort of text to place in the hands of an advanced undergraduate, graduate student, or interested reader embarking on a study of modernism. Accurate and up-to-date, this study offers a comprehensive picture of the modernist impulse in its shared expression and techniques in various media...Butler has produced a text that serves as almost above reproach.'
`Christopher Butler aims for a very precisely denoted historical concentration but a wide-ranging interdisciplinary sweep...His strength is in the commanding sweep of his gaze...his book is valuable and generous, seeing philosophy as an underpinning or a guide, rather than a goal.'
RES New Series XLVII 185
`Butler has written a book that is a useful contribution to the history of early modernism insightfully drawing out many of its complexities and contradictions, a book which will help to invigorate debates about modernism and its many histories.'
Jon Kear, The Oxford Art Journal - 19:2, 1996
Introduction. I. The Dynamics of Change: 1) Scepticism and Confrontation 2) The Withdrawal from Consensual Languages 3) Technique and Idea. II. The Development of a Modernist Aesthetic: New Languages for Painting and Music: 1) Matisse and Expression 2) Kandinsky and Abstraction 3) Schoenberg and Atonality 4) Braque, Picasso and Cubism 5) Language and Innovation. III. The Modernist Self: 1) Internal Divisions: Conrad, Nietzsche, Freud, Mann, Joyce, and Eliot 2) Subjectivity and Primitivism: The Demoiselles d'Avignon, Erwartung, and the Rite of spring. IV. The City: 1) The Individual and the Collective 2) The Futurists 3) Paris: the Poet in the City 4) Beyond the Stream of Consciousness: Simultaneism, Collage, and Parole in liberta 5) Berlin. V. London and the Reception of Modernist Ideas 1) From Hulme to Imagism 2) Post Impressionism 3) Futurism 4) Abstraction, Classicism, and Vorticism. VI. Aspects of the Avant-Garde 1) Diffusion and Adaptation 2) Progress and the Avant-Garde 3) Irrationalism and the Social 4) A Political Conclusion?. Notes; Index.