Ricorso and Revelation: An Archetypal Poetics of Modernism

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Ricorso and Revelation traces the impact on Modernism of the archaeological discoveries of the Palace of Knossos, the Royal Cemetery of Ur, and the Tomb of Tutankhamen, and the artifacts recovered from these sites, showing how they entered the narrative strategies of the Modernist movement.The author also develops a new argument about the four myth configurations - the maze, alchemy, the Great Goddess, and the Apocalypse - which were of central importance to the literature of European Modernism between 1895 and 1946, studying their appearances in a wide range of European modernist writers and in the paintings of Picasso and the films of Jean Cocteau. Drawing from a variety of theories on myth, Smith suggests that each of these four myths represents a creative return to the origins (ricorso), a reduction of the raw materials of daily life to the fundamental elements of creation (revelation), followed by a recreation of the world (cosmogenesis), of the poet (ontogenesis), and of the text (poesis/I>).