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Title: The 1850s and 1860s Towards a Comparison Between France and Spain
Author(s): Ginger, Andrew
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Editor(s): Archer, Robert
Astvaldsson, Valdi
Boyd, Stephen
Thompson, Michael
Citation: Ginger A (2005) The 1850s and 1860s Towards a Comparison Between France and Spain. In: Archer Robert, Astvaldsson Valdi, Boyd Stephen, Thompson Michael (ed.). Antes y después del Quijote: En el cincuentenario de la Asociación de Hispanistas de Gran Bretaña e Irlanda, Valencia: Biblioteca Valenciana/Generalitat Valenciana, pp. 331-339.
Keywords: modernism
manet baudelaire flaubert
lucas ros flores castro
foucault barthes bourdieu greenberg
Issue Date: 2005
Abstract: Dominant theories of cultural modernity have been significantly shaped by an historical recognition of the achievements of the mid-nineteenth-century Parisian avant-garde as the very grounds of our cultural condition. But if the recognition approach had been applied to Spain and not France, radically distinct answers would have been reached. There might never have been an equation of the turn to the medium in itself and the emergence of a radically new order of discourse. Alternatively, the latter eventuality might have occurred, but it would not have offered an overcoming; it would have lacked a positive eschatological value of any kind. Instead we would dwell on Lucas’s continual ventroliquism of existing and established voices, on Ros’s traumatic sense that the language and forms of the past are both in ruins and inescapable, or on Flores and Castro’s critical distancing of the turn to representation in itself, seen unequivocally as a manifestation of the ills of the modern city. And the possibilities would become more complex and varied the more authors and artists we considered. What the Spanish case study shows us is that the historical recognition upon which many influential theories are founded is deeply flawed. Even a relatively narrowly defined phenomenon, such as the turn to the medium in itself, is radically variegated. We should give up any aspiration to defining the terms of a singular modernity that is the ground of our cultural condition, and open our minds to the wider diversity of intellectual possibilities and historical paths. And we should realise that doing so does not require us to be uncritical or undiscriminating, rather quite the opposite. The genuinely critical mind will not see modernity as a defining ground of our cultural condition (whether for good or ill). Instead, cultural modernity is a plural series of potential values and debates that are worthy of ongoing discussion and reflection, and which can continually surprise and stimulate us in our present-day thoughts.
Rights: Published by Biblioteca Valenciana/ Generalitat Valenciana

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