My Excellent Twitter Reviews for #TLSAPP

Presented here in all their glory, and in order from first to last, are my losing entries for the TLS tweet-a-book-review contest. A good time was had by all, I think, even though one week’s ringer, I mean winner, actually writes for the TLS. I know!

Here’s to Alex Drace-Francis (@AlexDrace), who was singled out by the TLS for honorable mentions three weeks in a row, and the impressively prolific Basant (@KangriCarrier), whose thumbs by now must be tweeted to the bone.  As for me, I managed to snag honorable mentions for my first two entries (special thanks to @kmziegler for the assist with Middlemarch). All gems, though.

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Modernism and Concealed Surfaces

  • “Profundity must be concealed. Where? On the surface.” Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929), an Austrian modernist writer, is here remarking on a central modernist principle. The idea is that profound truths are no longer to be thought of as hidden or revealed (or hidden-in-order-to-be-revealed), as many religions or philosophies will have it.

For modernist writers and artists, profundity and meaning sit on the surface of a work, showing the operations of artistic style and technique, since it’s these aesthetic operations that truly express what the world and modern human life is all about.  The line quoted is from Hofmannsthal’s The Book of Friends (1922) and comes by way of an energetic review of Ben Hutchinson’s Modernism and Style, written by Robert Vilain for the TLS (Feb 22. 2013 issue, subscription required). (Originally posted March 20, 2013)