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Modernist ObjectsLiterature, Art, Culture$
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Noëlle Cuny and Xavier Kalck

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781949979503

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781949979503.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

“Lost! Hansome Gole Brooch”

“Lost! Hansome Gole Brooch”

Broken, Lost, and Forgotten Objects in Woolf, Mansfield, and Stein

(p.209) Chapter Eleven “Lost! Hansome Gole Brooch”
Modernist Objects

Nonia Williams

Liverpool University Press

This chapter focuses on broken, lost and forgotten objects in the writing of a selection of female modernists: Woolf’s To the Lighthouse, Mansfield’s “Pictures” and “At the Bay”, and Stein’s The Autobiography of Alice B Toklas. The argument is that the absent-presence of homey and decorative details in the above texts enables us to extend and complicate the claim that concrete symbolism might be read as a mode of resistance; to abstract modernist symbolism on the one hand, and the prominence of focus on the manifest detail on the other. Drawing on Naomi Schor’s idea of the aesthetics of absence, this essay considers how broken, lost and forgotten objects might particularly work to signify “thingness,” that is, both focus our attention on the object, and remind us of the object’s transience and ability to pass in and out of stories. How might Stein’s love of breakable objects and clutter add to and complicate Schor’s claim that the absent detail is the “modern or postmodern detail par excellence”? The chapter reveals how these broken, lost and forgotten modernist objects enable us to make an argument for the particular significance of an aesthetics of absence when it comes to the question of both modernist objects and the feminine detail.

Keywords:   aesthetics of absence, Naomi Schor, Feminine details, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Naomi Schor

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