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Cataclysmic changes in the world require new accommodations to it, new ways of articulating the strangeness that abounds. Literary modernism of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries- the main period under study in this special issue-sought precisely to capture that sense of strangeness, matching it and expressing it with new aesthetic forms, styles, and subject matter. But these early forms of expression which delineated the contours of a startling new reality-the technologies of photography and cinema, scientific discoveries, new modes of transportation, global war, postwar trauma, new class and gender formations, the birth of the unconscious, the erosion of an imperial center, and the concomitant loss of a certainty that went into the formation of that very center, in short, modernity itself-were surely not simply reflections. With their radical questioning of the aesthetic correlatives of an "objective" reality (linear narrative, moral center, omniscient narrator, and consensual truth, for instance), these new utterances themselves shaped the world in which they circulated, providing the very lexicon with which people began to re-imagine their worlds.


Posted with permission from the editors of South Asian Review.