Works for Other Times
We often think of literary canons as representing the hegemony of the past over the present. The introduction asks us to think instead of the way the present reshapes the past to serve its needs. The literary past, in other words, becomes a set of tools for producing new work and thought in the present. Rather than see the literature of the past as a means for us today to critique its historical context, we can see older works as providing a whole host of later readers with modes of engaging with political questions in their own times. Modernist authors, in this view, cultivate forms of commitment and belief rather than critique and skepticism. Modernist literary innovation teaches us, in other words, not the hermeneutics of suspicion but its alternatives.
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