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Modernism and the Ordinary$
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Liesl Olson

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195368123

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195368123.001.0001

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(p.3) Introduction
Modernism and the Ordinary

Liesl Olson (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores a paradox: how does a writer replicate what is overlooked, if the nature of literary representation is to look closely at its subject? The chapter argues that literary modernism’s stylistic innovations were driven by this question. An overview is then offered of theories of everyday life (Lefebvre and others) to argue for a more specific definition of ordinariness in relation to literary modernism. The ordinary is defined as 1) an affect of disinterest or boredom; 2) a genre of objects and events; 3) a style. The chapter then examines literary modernism’s emphasis on the everyday in connection to 19th-century modes of realism, especially the novel. It concludes with a discussion of the everyday in the context of the unprecedented violence of 20th-century wars.

Keywords:   modernist style, Henri Lefebvre, everyday life theory, war, nineteenth-century novel, realism

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