“Commerce between Us”

It must be time for me to read a book again, since I am devoid of ideas today. Victor Hugo always gives me food for thought, although the thoughts tend to clutter up my own attitudes. Probably Virginia Woolf was more to my taste. How can you go wrong with classical beauty? It was interesting how she meditated on the durability and perishability of beauty, and was unable to decide which was true. Is beauty immortal or not? Jacob’s Room is a very fine short novel, exemplary of some of the concerns of Modernism. For fun I might take Hilda Doolittle off the shelf and sample a few poems. She was the childhood sweetheart of Ezra Pound. Funny how the one who paved the way for Modernism was Henry James. He did this by opening communication with the old country across the Atlantic. The stuffy isolationism of the nineteenth century caused American art to stagnate. There was a sore need to reunite with our roots, or so James and many other creative people felt. It was sort of like the British Invasion in popular music. What would American music be like if The Beatles had never happened on the scene? We’d still be stuck with Elvis Presley. So, the same with Modern American literature. And Henry James made it all possible, blazing the trail for Pound, Eliot, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and other American writers to cross the ocean and soak up the culture. Finally there was commerce between the Old World and the New, resulting in very fruitful times for the art of the Western world… Another such reopening is necessary for America and Europe. It might take place depending on how the election goes this fall. The MAGA policy is going nowhere. When the pandemic dust settles, it will be interesting to see what happens all the way around.


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