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Modernism on Sea

Art and Culture at the British Seaside


Edited By Lara Feigel and Alexandra Harris

Modernism on Sea brings together writing by some of today’s most exciting seaside critics, curators, filmmakers and scholars, and takes the reader on a journey around the coast of Britain to explore the rich artistic and cultural heritage that can be found there, from St Ives to Scarborough. The authors consider avant-garde art, architecture, film, literature and music, from the early twentieth century to the present, setting the arrival of modernism against the background of seaside tradition.
From the cheeky postcards marvelled at by George Orwell to austere modernist buildings such as the De La Warr Pavilion; from the Camden Town Group’s sojourn in Brighton to John Piper’s ‘Nautical Style’; from Paul Nash’s surrealist benches on the promenade in Swanage to the influence of bunting and deckchairs on the Festival of Britain – Modernism on Sea is a sweeping tour de force which pays tribute to the role of the seaside in shaping British modernism.


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Part IIISeaside Poetics


Part III SEASIDE POETICS David Bradshaw David Bradshaw is Reader in English Literature at the University of Oxford and Hawthornden Fellow at Worcester College, Oxford. Among other volumes, he has edited The Hidden Huxley, Decline and Fall, The Good Soldier, Brave New World, Women in Love, Mrs Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, A Concise Companion to Modernism, The Cambridge Companion to E.M. Forster and, with Kevin J.H. Dettmar, A Companion to Modernist Literature and Culture. He is a Fellow of the English Association and the post-Romantic period editor of the Review of English Studies. ‘The Purest Ecstasy’ Virginia Woolf and the Sea when john bourke argued in his slender volume of 1954 that the sea has traditionally stood for three things in English poetry, freedom (both of movement and spiritual liberty), human life and eternity, he hardly whipped up a storm of dissent.1 However, though the tweedy cut of his criticism is now as out of date as the clamour for dreadnoughts or Donald McGill’s fruity postcards, Bourke’s less than sen- sational reflections on the sea as a poetic symbol remain no less applicable to Virginia Woolf ’s prose. No modernist writer, with the possible exceptions of Joseph Conrad and James Joyce, was so deeply inspired by the sea or spent so much of his or her imaginative life beside or beneath its figurative depths, and in the work of no other author from the modernist epoch is the sea invested with such rich symbolic value as it is in Woolf...

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