Spirals: The Whirled Image in Twentieth-Century Literature and Art (Modernist Latitudes)

Spirals: The Whirled Image in Twentieth-Century Literature and Art (Modernist Latitudes)

Nico Israel

Language: English

Pages: 272


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

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of whom were resuscitated from his earlier theatrical work and poetry, while others were reconstituted from standard-issue Victorian imperial-era travel literature. A Vision A’s subtitle was An Explanation of Life founded upon the Writings of Giraldus and upon Certain Doctrines Attributed to Kusta ben Luka, supposedly edited by Yeats’s sometime–alter ego Michael Robartes, a once-lascivious spiritual wanderer. At the beginning of A Vision A, the pious Catholic and more temperamentally conservative

he decides to wander for several years. The Judwalis, according to Robartes, are “known among the Arabs for the violent contrast of character amongst them, for their licentiousness and their sanctity,”13 a description that applied to Robartes (as well as to Yeats’s vision of himself ). The old Arab eventually trusts Robartes enough to show him a book by the tribe’s onetime leader, “Kusta ben Luka, the Christian philosopher and man of science at the court of Harun al-Rashid.”14 After prolonged

eye.10 Suffice it to say that my assumption or presumption in the chapters that follow is that the “place [of ] language”—the place, perhaps, of “Awakening” (or at the very least of language, awakening)11—describes neither solely statement nor picture but a terrain between stating and picturing that incorporates both acts. Seen from this vantage, the profanely illuminating image of the spiral, which in the literary and artistic texts to be explored herein often shuttles between the visual and the

representation.”96 It is this sense of theatricality as medium (in every sense of that term) that infuses Tatlin’s and Yeats’s rhetoric of theater despite the entirely opposite political and artistic convictions they espouse. There is yet another Tower of Babel/Babylon that has appeared frequently in Tatlin criticism, usually in passing—and it, like “theatricality,” links Tatlin to 108 TWINNED TOW E R S 27 Spiral minaret of the Great Mosque, Samarra, Iraq, ca. 850. (© World Religions Photo

world”; or, more generally, Beckett’s extremely concentrated and distilled sentences and phrases. A special form of finding, and not finding, the center is at issue in the many spirals that play a significant role in Beckett’s writing. Nowhere is this more powerfully the case than in Beckett’s most sustained and yet arguably most “concentrated” novel, L’innommable, written in 1948/1949 and published in its French original in 1953, translated into English by Beckett as The Unnamable, and published

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