Skip to Main Content

BERMAN (2001)

Modernist Fiction Cover

Modernist Fiction, Cosmopolitanism and the Politics of Community

Author: Jessica Berman
Publisher: Cambridge University Press, 2001

In this book, Jessica Berman claims that modernist fiction engages directly with early twentieth-century transformations of community and cosmopolitanism. Although modernist writers develop radically different models for social, organization, their writings return again and again to issues of commonality and shared voice, particularly in relation to dominant discourses of gender and nationality. The writings of Henry James, Marcel Proust, Virginia Woolf, and Gertrude Stein not only inscribe early twentieth-century anxieties about race, ethnicity, nationality and gender, but confront them with demands for modern, cosmopolitan versions of community.

Reviews
 
“. . . a slim but formidable work deeply grounded in contemporary critical theory. Thanks to Berman’s complex theoretical analysis, Woolf’s vision of community emerges as a powerful and defiant rejection of homogeneity” (Virginia Woolf Miscellany)
d
“There is much to be praised in and much to be gained from this book” (Modern Philology)
d
“Berman has written a passionately argued and scrupulously researched book” (Modern Fiction Studies)
d
“There is much to admire in Jessica Berman’s ambitious book, not the least of which is her construction of a rich interdisciplinary context in the chapters on the writers. These sections are so compelling that they could stand on their own…. But what is most striking about this study is the way it brilliantly reflects in its structure the central theoretical concept of compearance–the being-in-common or affiliation of radically different writers all responding to the threat of a looming totalitarian nationalism. In Modernist Fiction, Cosmopolitanism and the Politics of Community, each writer is remade in this connection with the others” (Woolf Studies Annual)
d
“This is a most sophisticated and stimulating book, inspired by postcolonial inquiries into nationality and various political theories about the narrative construction of community” (English Literature in Transition)
d
“Jessica Berman’s energetic study of Henry James, Proust, Wolf, and Stein brings together these trends and these highest of modernists for a reconsideration of how ‘community’ works politically and in narrative. . . . Readers interested in the political and literary implications of this effort will profit from careful engagement with Berman’s skillful readings and with her challenge to re-imagine the community of international modernism” (Novel)