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The Sacred Cause

The Europe that was Lost – Thoughts on Central and Eastern European Modernism

Tom Sandqvist

«This book is about Modernism and Avant-Garde movements in Central and Eastern European art around the last turn of the century. It sketches a surrealistic, bewildering, irrational arena. At the same time, we are offered a differentiated view on the complex whole of the avantgarde scene in Eastern Europe. The author takes us to dark soirées, scandalous dada theatrical performances, drunken bouts with loudmouthed reformers. Subjectivity stands against rationality, ethnonationalism against internationalism. Yugoslavian zenitism, Czech poetism, Hungarian activism, and other less-known isms, are proposed in exstatic outbursts in shortlived magazines. The pace is hectic, the commitment enormous, and the sheer force of strongminded individuals overwhelming. All in all, the inversed perspective seems alluringly fresh, with Eastern Europe as the co-producer of ideological content, instead as the receiver, or, even worse, the passive reflection of Western thought. I am impressed by the tolerance of much of the audience before and after the First World War: To be a genius seems to be just a matter of course. Karel Teige in Prague, Ljubomir Micić in Zagreb, Lajos Kassák in Budapest, and Jacek Malczewski in Krakow were tireless propagators of avant-garde art – but also of nostalgic messianism. How did they get away with this, at times, monomaniac egoism, one wonders. Sandqvist finds the answer in that subjectivity was the remedy for avantgarde artists as a defence mechanism against the repressive society and destructive socioeconomical forces.» (Jan von Bonsdorff, Professor, Uppsala University)


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Design: © Olaf Gloeckler, Atelier Platen, Friedberg Pictures: Image no. 127. Opening of the magazine Ma, 1922. Photo: Ann Edholm. Petöfi Irodalmi Múzeum, Budapest. Image no. 135 Ferdynand Ruszczyc: Nec Mergitur, 10+4-1905. Lietuvos Dailes Muziejus, inv. no. T-2691, Vilnius. Sandqvist, Tom. [Svunnet Europe. English] The sacred cause : the Europe that was lost : thoughts on central and eastern European modernism / Tom Sandqvist. -- 1 [edition]. pages cm „This book was originally published in Swedish under the title „Ett svunnet Europa. Om modernismens glömda rötter“, © Brutus Östlings Bokförlag Symposion, Stock- holm 2009.“ Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 978-3-631-64037-1 1. Modernism (Art)--Europe, Central--Themes, motives. 2. Modernism (Art)-- Europe, Eastern--Themes, motives. 3. Modernism (Literature)--Europe, Central-- Themes, motives. 4. Modernism (Literature)--Europe, Eastern--Themes, motives. 5. Arts, Central European--19th century--Themes, motives. 6. Arts, Central European-- 20th century--Themes, motives. 7. Arts, European--Europe, Eastern--19th century-- Themes, motives. 8. Arts, European--Europe, Eastern--20th century--Themes, motives. I. Sandqvist, Tom. Svunnet Europe. Translation of: II. Title. NX456.5.M64S2613 2013 709.04--dc23 2013002515 ISBN 978-3-631-64037-1 © Peter Lang GmbH Internationaler Verlag der Wissenschaften Frankfurt am Main 2013 All rights reserved. PL Academic Research is an Imprint of Peter Lang GmbH All parts of this publication are protected by copyright. Any utilisation outside the strict limits of the copyright law, without the permission of the publisher, is forbidden and liable to prosecution. This applies in particular to reproductions, translations, microfilming, and storage and processing in electronic retrieval systems.

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