Department of English, Jadavpur University

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Modernism and Poetry

This course examines the relationship between modernism and poetry by somewhat idiosyncratically yoking two poets separated by time and space under one theme. The method is deliberately anti-historical, and results in some unlikely pairings (the very first, for instance). In the process, we examine the uneven global register of modernism across Europe and the Americas, along with a more localized glance at its manifestation in Bengal.

The readings suggested are fairly rudimentary: students are expected to read the poets and around them in more detail.

1.   Flaneurs

  • Charles Baudelaire, from Fleurs du Mal (see\
  • Fernando Pessoa, ‘Ricardo Reis’ section from Poems of Fernando Pessoa (City Lights, 1998)

Secondary reading

  • Walter Benjamin, Charles Baudelaire: A Lyric Poet in the Era of High Capitalism
  •  Jose Saramago, The Year of the Death of Ricardo Reis

2. Erhebung

  • Rainer Maria Rilke, The Duino Elegies
  • TS Eliot, The Four Quartets

Secondary reading

  • Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
  • Stephen Spender, ‘Rilke and the angels, Eliot and the shrines’, Sewanee Review, 61.4 (Autumn, 1953)
  • Jeffery M. Paine, ‘Rainer Maria Rilke: The Evolution of a Poet’, The Wilson Quarterly (1976-) Vol. 10, No. 2 (Spring, 1986)
  • Eleanor E. ter Horst, ‘The Pendulum of Poetry: Metaphor and Mediation in Rilke’s “Duineser Elegie’, The German Quarterly, Vol. 79, No. 3, Focus on Literature around 1900 (Summer, 2006)

3. Nostos

 Ezra Pound, Cantos I and XXXVI from The Cantos

Constantine Cavafy, ‘Poems 1905-15’, from Selected Poems (Penguin)

Secondary reading

  • Roderick Beaton, ‘C. P. Cavafy: Irony and Hellenism’. The Slavonic and East European Review, Vol. 59, No. 4 (Oct., 1981)

 4. Imagist

Amy Lowell [poems to be announced]

H.D. [poems to be announced]

Secondary reading


5. Seasons in heaven and hell

Arthur Rimbaud, A Season in Hell

Dylan Thomas, from 18 Poems and Twenty-five Poems

Secondary reading

  • Jean Moreas, The Symbolist Manifesto
  • Paul Verlaine, Les Poetes Maudits

 6. A Poet in New York

 Hart Crane, The Bridge

 Federico Garcia Lorca, from A Poet in New York

 7. Angels of history

Vladimir Mayakovsky, [poems to be announced]

Paul Celan, ‘Death Fugue’, and others

8. Country and City

Rabindranath Tagore, [poems to be announced]

Jibanananda Das, [poems to be announced]

9. Home and Away

 Marianne Moore, [poems to be announced]

Elizabeth Bishop, [poems to be announced]


Course coordinator: Abhijit Gupta

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