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Modernism and Its Discontents

Philosophical Problems of Twentieth-Century Literary Theory

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Bruce E. Fleming

Literary theory of the twentieth century in the Anglo-American tradition forms a coherent whole, dividing into discrete clusters. This theory is riddled with purely logical problems inherent in its enterprise, resulting from the fact that Modernist theory develops as an offshoot of Romanticism. Such fundamental flaws, or discontents, afflict all Modernist theory, from Russian Formalism through Structuralism and Deconstruction. The problems of Modernist theory cannot be solved; at most we can resolve to take theory in a new direction.