1 The Trend Thus Far 17
17 Chapter One: The Trend Thus Far Making Sense of Chaos Those who have lived during the twentieth century surely will not be surprised to see Harold Bloom refer to it as ‘The Chaotic Age’. Of course, he was particularly interested in categorizing its literature and judging it in relation to it predecessors (of the aristocratic and democratic ages). He saw the writings of Freud, Proust, Joyce, Woolf, Kafka, Borges, Neruda and Pessoa as aptly belonging to just such a category since ‘a poem, novel or play acquires all of humanity’s disorders.’1 Similarly, Octavio Paz, referring specifically to modern poetry, named the contemporary age as ‘immoderate’, filled with ‘ruptures and revolutions.’2 By inference, the past century was one of chaos but, equally, it must be said, it was one of great creativity. Within that creativity, however, in Spain and elsewhere, most markedly in the last quarter of the twentieth century, there was a growing sense of futility. Fiction emphasised a theme of existential struggle that had little point beyond the struggle itself since activity rarely led to change and, if it did, that change was rarely, if ever, for the better. Thus, the term ‘chaotic’, and all its derivatives, have been understood popularly as negative. We speak of ‘the chaos’ of our lives, of our minds, of our thoughts and expectations, meaning that 1 Harold Bloom, The Western Canon (New York: Riverhead Books; Berkley; Penguin, 1994), p.18. 2 Cited in Stephen Miller, ‘The Spanish Novel from Pérez Galdós...
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