What joy! Nicholas Lezard has discovered What Ever Happened to Modernism? by Gabriel Josipovici. Followers of my blog may remember that I have several times referred - and deferred - to this amazing work of literary criticism over the past year. Lezard rues how the Booker shortlist went horribly wrong this year having been 'on the point of recognising the influence of modernism' last year with Tom McCarthy's C. As he points out, the modernist canon has been around too long to deserve the sideswipes it receives from the likes of Amis. Read his piece in full in last Saturday's Guardian Review, p.19.
This was followed by Robert McCrum [today's Observer, 13 November, Review section, p. 42] recognising that English fiction 'is in the doldrums' and opining that the 'cultural recession mirrors the economic downturn'. In his opinion, the book market promotes quantity before quality producing what he terms the Ikea novel. 'Ikea novels are the kind of fiction that comes direct from the factory, with no intercession of craftsmanship or artistry en route to the consumer'. It has all the ingredients of a novel but is a simulacrum of fine writing. 'Ikea fiction is not original, and not distinctive, with no inner vision or humanity'.
Its reassuring to know that my criticisms of the gods of the English literary scene are not totally off base.