York Notes Companions: Modernist Literature

Gary Day  
Pearson Longman
Total pages
June 2010
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York Notes Companions: Modernist Literature
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The period 1890 to 1950 is remarkable for radical innovation and literary development. This volume looks back to the origins of Modernism and the traditions that shaped it, examining texts from France, America, England and Ireland to provide a stimulating and original take on this unique movement in literary history. Combining textual analysis with key critical approaches, the book considers central texts such as Eliot’s The Waste Land, Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Lawrence’s Women in Love alongside wider debates on “Literature and War”, “Modernism, Music and the Visual Arts” and “Modernism and its Critics”.


  • Analysis of key texts and debates
  • Extended commentaries provide further in-depth analysis of individual texts
  • Notes contain extra context and explanations of literary terms
  • Historical, social and cultural contexts explored in introductory chapters and alongside discussions
  • Modern critical theory and perspectives in practice
  • Timelines and annotated further reading

Table of Contents

Part One: Introduction


Part Two: A Cultural Overview


Part Three: Texts, Writers and Contexts


  • Modernist poetry –  French Origins, English Settings: Baudelaire, Mallarmé and the Georgians

o       Extended commentary: Imagism


  • Modernist poetry – America, Ireland and England: Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Yeats and Eliot

o       Extended commentary: T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land (1922)


·        The Modernist novel and tradition: Flaubert, Mann, Kafka and Joyce

    • Extended commentary: Joyce, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

·        The Modernist novel II: Saki, Woolf and Lawrence

    • Extended commentary: Lawrence, Women in Love (1920)


  • The Modernist play I – Ibsen, Strindberg, Pirandello and Beckett

    •  Extended commentary: Beckett,Endgame (1957)


  • The Modernist play II – Conrad, Brecht and Artaud

o       Extended commentary: Brecht, Baal (1923)


Part Four:  Critical theories and Debates


Literature and War


Modernist Print Culture


Modernism, Music the Visual Arts


Modernism and its Critics



Part Five: Resources




Further reading



Back Cover

The York Notes Companion to Modernism traces the literary development of a period remarkable for its radical artistic innovation. Looking back to the origins of Modernism and the traditions that shaped it, the Companion examines Modernist masterpieces such as The Waste Land and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man alongside lesser known works of the period, offering detailed commentaries on texts as well as guiding students through key literary theories and debates. Connecting texts with their historical and scholarly contexts, this is essential reading for any student of Modernism. 


Each York Notes Companion provides:

  • Analysis  of key texts and debates  
  • Extended  commentaries for further in-depth analysis of individual texts  
  • Exploration  of historical, social and cultural contexts
  • Annotations clarifying literary terms and events in history
  • Modern  theoretical perspectives in practice  
  • Timelines  and annotated further reading


Gary Day is Principal Lecturer and MA Course leader at the University of De Montfort.



Dr Gary Day is Principal Lecturer and English Course leader for the MA in Independent Study at the University of De Montfort. He has a wide range of literary interests, including modern literature and drama, and the history of criticism. He is also widely published, with his most recent work, Literary Criticism: A New History (Edinburgh University Press, 2008), described as ‘exuberantly readable … a book that will appeal to students and scholars alike’. He is also the author of Class (Routledge 2001) described by Terry Eagleton as ‘a signal achievement’. In addition to being the author of several other books and of many chapters, essays and articles he has also edited Palgrave’s New Casebook on The Rainbow and Women in Love (Macmillan, 2004), British Poetry 1990–1950 (Macmillan, 1995), and Literature and Culture in Modern Britain Volumes 2 and 3 (Longman, 1997, 1999). He is a reviewer for, amongst others, THES, the Journal of Eighteenth Century Studies and the TLS. Gary Day is joint editor with Jack Lynch of the Wiley Encyclopedia of Eighteenth Century Literature.

Reader Review(s)

"Via a combination of critical approaches and textual analysis, Day explores a fertile period for literary development."

- Reviewed in Times Higher Education