Well, how embarrassing. I think I thought about some of Wilson's analysis of Symbolist literature, but I only remember the parts that agreed with suspicions I already had. Principally I'm comforted that The Remembrance of Things Past wasn't going to get less depressing than Swann's Way and that all the people were in fact self-defeating in more or less morally unpleasant ways. I'll happily forgo the technical skill of's dying world; if I want to be in it I'd rather visit, say, the jolly .
And second recognition;goes all high-church & his verse turns into iffy .
The chapter on Joyce and hypertext, though there seems to be no hypertext of FW or U; famously the surviving holder of copyright is "a Joyce not a Joycean", so there probably won't be, either. Pity.is unusually convincing in its argument that she's unreadable but fundamentally important, like the Velvet Underground I suppose; and the one on is fun because it was written during Finnegans Wake's original serialized publication. Wilson is not so overcome by Joyce's method. There are publications devoted to
Axel of the eponymous Castle sounds a totally unreadable pile and madly seductive to the touchy young: like The Fountainhead or The Flame of Araby. Castles! Cryptonomicon-sized piles of gold! gorgeous young Rosicrucian aristocrats who fall in love while trying to kill each other, only Axel persuades her to an immediate joint suicide because even for them no life could be as good as their fantasies... It's really just as well I didn't come across this at fourteen. To my surprise, Axel isn't online; not on Project Gutenberg, not at the Online Books Page. There are hard copies, some in what sound like lovely nineteenth-c. editions, what with Symbolists enjoying the decorative arts. The author (count de, etc.), is all biographized and everything.
There's a nice bit about the importance of sleep to the Symbolists, both as a naturally Symbolist realm and a suitably lethargic revolt against the demands of the modern world. It might cross Rosicrucianism, too; The Pagan Dream of the Renaissance mentioned that some esoteric adepts regarded sleep as a mystic art, one with which they could see or do what they could not waking.
With that in mind, I was dubious of Wilson's closing paragraph, which is largely a defense of the Symbolists' dreaming retreat into "things that are dying—the whole belle-lettristic tradition of Renaissance culture perhaps, compelled to specialize more and more, more and more driven in on itself, as industrialism and democratic education have come to press it closer and closer&mdash" Well, but the whole tradition includes the parts that did and the parts that didn't have science and democracy as their descendants. Not that there's a clear line between those parts, any more than The Metaphysical Club could lay out distinct parentage for modern political alliances. I get massively annoyed by accounts that assume the only 'real' or interesting part of the past was the part most like us (e.g., The System of the World) and on nearly the same principle am annoyed by accounts that assume that the only 'good' or interesting part of the past is the part we've given up.
Find in a LibrarySo wrote clew in Book comparisons. , History (19th c.). , History (20th c.).