'Watchman, What of the Night?': Late Modernism and the Left Bank'
Supervisors: Dr Deborah Longworth and Dr Andrzej Gasiorek
This thesis focuses on the work of late modernists in Paris between 1928 and 1960, to include Djuna Barnes, James Joyce, Henry Miller and Samuel Beckett, alongside French writers such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Louis-Ferdinand Celine, and Philippe Soupault. It situates late modernism as the point at which modernism truly discovered the tragicomic and the grotesque; the last point at which both the comic and tragic modes retained their full import before the self-aware, self-reflexive comedy and misery of postmodernist thought.
Using the theoretical perspectives of Walter Benjamin and Mikhail Bakhtin, this thesis will posit a theory of late modernism as a stylistic and theoretical genre in itself, bridging the gap between earlier high modernist writing, and later, postmodernist thought. The ‘revolution of the word’ and its grotesque implications are, in many texts from the period, intertwined with the city of Paris itself, which provided a fertile grounding for late modernist writers on either side of World War Two.