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A march toward the modernists

Modernist writers make up a new challenge

Reading is a worthwhile effort for writers. Reading outside a writer’s normal genre is even better. Reading celebrated and influential writers is one way writers learn about their craft.

With that in mind and with a caterpillar-like crawl through my Classics Club reading list, I’ve realized that participating in the Modern March reading event would be a boon to both my reading and my writing goals. If you were to look at my Classics Club project main reading list, you’d see exactly how eclectic I am even within the constraint of a specific genre or category. You’d also discover I don’t mind bending the edges a bit. So it is with my choices for A Modern March: I am pushing the outer boundary.

Vladimir Nabokov

Who are the Modernists?

Modernists published their works from the late 1800s through the 1950s. You may not recognize the era or even be able to quickly tally a list of the writers but their names are immediately recognizable: Hemingway, Faulkner, and T.S. Elliot come to mind but there are many more. Joseph Conrad, E.M. Forster, Franz Kafka, Katherine Anne Porter, Virginia Wolf, and Gertrude Stein are in their number.

At the beginning some modernists fostered a utopian spirit, stimulated by innovations in anthropology, psychology, philosophy, political theory, physics and psychoanalysis. The poets of the Imagist movement, founded by Ezra Pound in 1912 , as a new poetic style gave Modernism its early start in the 20th century, were characterized by a positive spirit, rejecting the sentiment and discursiveness typical of Romantic and Victorian periods for poetry that favoured a precision of imagery, brevity and Free verse. This idealism, however, ended, with the outbreak of World War I, and writers created more cynical works that reflected a prevailing sense of disillusionment. Many modernist writers also shared a mistrust of institutions of power such as government and religion, and rejected the notion of absolute truths. Later modernist works, such as T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land (1922), were increasingly self-aware, introspective, and often explored the darker aspects of human nature. ~ Wikipedia Modernist Literature

My Modern March 2013 reading plan

Flannery O’Connor

A Modern March is being hosted by A Literary Odyssey. My book choices are doing double duty. All are on my Classics Club main reading list and all but one my Short Works reading challenge. Need I mention how they are all nestled in stacks so my TBR Pile Challenge will also benefit?

  • Lolita by Vladimir Nobokov (1955) – This has been on my shelves for far too long. It doesn’t help matters that it’s been part of a research project, too.
  • Speak, Memory by Vladimir Nabokov (1951) – This collection has been at the top of my reading list from my early days of writing yet my reading attempts sputtered and died. Nabokov influenced many writers including John Banville, Don DeLilo and Salmon Rushdie. It’s hard to remember that English was his second language yet he continues to rank among the top of English-speaking writers.
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway (1952) – I don’t remember reading this but the book has crisscrossed my path for decades. It’s time to open the pages. After all, it was Hemingway’s last major work published while he was still alive and his influence on a generation of writers continues to be strong.
  • A Good Man Is Hard to Find and Other Stories by Flannery O’Connor (1955) – I’ve chosen the Flannery O’Connor short story collection because I’ve been toying with the idea of making O’Connor a major reading project. Flannery’s works have been calling me for years.
  • Willa Cather On Writing by Willa Cather (1949) – When it comes to her thoughts on writing, this is one classic writer I’ve yet to read. That omission should be remedied.

Do the modernists top your list of favorite authors you like to read? Share your thoughts, choices, and comments below.


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  • Christine

    I can’t believe I forgot to put Lolita on my Classics Club list! I probably missed it since I mainly made up my list from my TBR pile as well and I happen to now have a copy of it yet. I only just joined, so I think I’ll try to get a book or two under my belt before I join an additional event — I wish you luck though :)

  • Vikk Simmons

    Well, I did have some deeper motivation to participate. Most of these books are on my Classics Club list, so it’s a good push to make some progress there. I’m pretty curious to see how I react to Lolita. Thanks for stopping by and for commenting. Always appreciated.

  • ebookclassics

    Hmm. Lolita is on my reading list, but I didn’t consider it for this event. I will be reading T.S. Eliot and probably Joseph Conrad. It will be my first taste of modernist literature. I look forward to your comments on Lolita!