Modernism and the Unseen: Spiritualism, Mysticism and the Occult

Across Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the 'unseen' returned in very particular ways: in a resurgence of interest in mysticism of all kinds, in the pursuit of occult knowledge and practices, and in the investigation of psychic phenomenon. While a number of scholars have described links between modernism and aspects of spiritualism, the occult, and mysticism, their discussions have left unanswered the question of what place the unseen world as a whole occupies. By looking at the occult, spiritualism and mysticism in one frame, this book argues that the unseen figures modernism's yearning for that which is beyond the materiality of the text, whether that 'text' be printed words on a page, paint on canvas, or the effects of light fixed on a screen. The birth of modernism resides not so much in notions of aesthetic autonomy, resisting the degradations of mass culture, but in an attempt to reclaim textuality as a magical practice. This book provides the first overview of this broad subject, aimed at advanced level students and researchers, but it also offers an intervention in current critical debates on modernism and its understanding of the text. Features * The first broad overview of the subject. * Interdisciplinary coverage allows new connections to be made between literature, the visual arts and film. * Inclusion both of key figures (T. S. Eliot, James Joyce) and the less mainstream (Mary Butts, May Sinclair) extends the frame of inquiry and encourages comparisons. * Innovative approach to the relation between writing and the unseen in modernism provides the groundwork for further research in the field.