For the first time in scholarship, this essay collection interprets modernity through the literary micro-genres of the aphorism, the epigram, the maxim, and the fragment. Situating Friedrich Nietzsche and Oscar Wilde as forerunners of modern aphoristic culture, the collection analyses the relationship between aphoristic consciousness and literary modernism in the expanded purview of the long twentieth century, through the work of a wide range of authors, including Samuel Beckett, Max Beerbohm, Jorge Luis Borges, Katherine Mansfield, and Stevie Smith. From the romantic fragment to the tweet,
Aphoristic Modernity offers a compelling exploration of the short form's pervasive presence both as a standalone artefact and as part of a larger textual and cultural matrix.
Kostas Boyiopoulos, Ph.D. (2008), Durham University, is a Teaching Associate in English Studies at that University. He has published widely on the
fin de siècle and Decadence, including the monograph
The Decadent Image: The Poetry of Wilde, Symons, and Dowson (2015).
Michael Shallcross, Ph.D. (2014), Durham University, is an independent researcher. His first monograph,
Rethinking G.K. Chesterton and Literary Modernism: Parody, Performance, and Popular Culture, was published in 2017. He is co-editor of
The Journal of Wyndham Lewis Studies.
List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors
Introduction: Like a Burr: Aphoristic Writing and Modernity
Kostas Boyiopoulos and Michael Shallcross 1Aphoristic Gaps and Theories of the Image
Peter Robinson 2‘A Ruin Amidst Ruins’: Modernity, Literary Aphorisms, and Romantic Fragments
Mark Sandy 3Social Notes: Oscar Wilde, Francis Bacon, and the Medium of Aphorism
Simon Reader 4Brilliancy and Mimicry: Epigrammatic Wit in Oscar Wilde, Max Beerbohm, and Ada Leverson
Kostas Boyiopoulos 5We Moderns: Katherine Mansfield and Edwin Muir in the
New Age Chris Mourant 6‘You must remain broken up’: Wyndham Lewis, Laughter, and the Subjective Aphorism
Alan Munton 7Knowing Nothing: Wilde and Beckett Deranging the Aphorism
Rebekah Scott 8Aphoristic Interruption in Stevie Smith
Noreen Masud 9Stepping into the Same River Twice: Jorge Luis Borges’s Aphoristic Short Stories
Baylee Brits 10Aphorisms and Archipelagos: Relationality in Modernist Studies
Maebh Long 11Epigrammatic Writing and Remix Culture: Memes and Mastery
Francesca Coppa 12‘I saw a sign that said “Drink Canada Dry”’: Alcoholic Epigrams, Modern Marketing, and the Value of Moderation
Anyone interested in aphorisms, epigrams, maxims, witticisms, and related short forms, as well as academics, students, researchers, and general readers working on modernism and modern culture.