• 'Man is the Measure': The Individual and the Tribe in Modernist Representations of the Primitive

    Author(s):
    Victoria Addis (see profile)
    Date:
    2016
    Group(s):
    British History, Performance Studies
    Subject(s):
    Ballet, British literature, Primitivism
    Item Type:
    Article
    Tag(s):
    #Forster, #Freud, #Stravinsky, modernism
    Permanent URL:
    http://dx.doi.org/10.17613/M6MT7N
    Abstract:
    This article investigates the tensions inherent within the ‘anti-modern’ element of early modernism and its relationship to Victorian and fin de siècle narratives of modernity. Using Sigmund Freud’s Totem and Taboo (1913), this essay examines how the primitive is represented in E.M. Forster’s short story ‘The Machine Stops’ (1909) and Stravinsky/Nijinsky’s ballet ‘The Rite of Spring’ (1913), and the ways in which those representations are utilised to relate contemporary concerns about modernisation and its effects on the individual. The use of the primitive in these early modernist works is built on a foundation of interest in primitive cultures fostered through popularised works of anthropological and ethnographic study, such as James George Frazer’s The Golden Bough (1890), and operates in relation to the primitivist movement in the visual arts. While Forster writes from the heart of the historic English countryside and Stravinsky from the backdrop of rural Russia, their works share concerns about the project of modernity and its impact on traditional ways of life. Yet in spite of the ‘anti-modern’ message of Forster’s and Stravinsky’s works, their uses of the primitive do not speak simply to a desire to return to a romanticised pre-modern age, but provide a counter-argument to modernity in the links drawn between excessive modernity (Forster) or industrialisation (Stravinsky) and the perceived savagery of primitive cultures.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 months ago
    License:
    All Rights Reserved

    Downloads

    Item Name: pdf man_is_the_measure_the_individual_and_th.pdf
      Download View in browser
    Activity: Downloads: 4