Words washed clean

David Trotter

  • From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature by Richard Ruland and Malcolm Bradbury
    Routledge, 381 pp, £35.00, August 1991, ISBN 0 415 01341 0

When Wyndham Lewis described the Men of 1914 as a ‘youth racket’ invented by Ezra Pound, he presumably didn’t mean to be complimentary. Pound, however, might be said to have had the last laugh, since it is now customary to regard the whole of American literature as a gigantic youth racket. The paradigm of Modernism, of programmatic innovation and reflexivity, has been applied to earlier and earlier writing, until there is little left that doesn’t speak, somehow, of self-renewal.

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