What Ever Happened to Modernism? by Gabriel Josipovici - review by John Sutherland

John Sutherland

Wake Up, England!

What Ever Happened to Modernism?

By

Yale University Press 224pp £18.99 order from our bookshop
 

What we have here is less a monograph than a genteel shriek of pain. How is it, a tormented Gabriel Josipovici asks, that the English have never taken to Modernism?

More to the point, why do the English (Josipovici invariably uses this term rather than ‘British’), unlike more enlightened peoples, so obstinately refuse to reform their insular, provincial, middle-brow, resolutely unmodernised cultural character? What ever happened to Modernism? England ignored it.

We have, as a nation, let Gabriel down. And Modernism.

Looking around, after half a century of living among us, Josipovici sees a sad sight – a culture stuck in its primeval mud. Worse than that, a childish and rather nasty culture. ‘Reading Julian Barnes’, Josipovici says

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