Constellation of Genius: 1922: Modernism Year One (Hardcover)

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Staff Reviews

I love books on books and this particular new release talks about the beginnings of the modern movement of literature. It's easy to follow and you wind up with a long list of books you'll want to read. Which I really enjoy! (Katelyn)

— From Katelyn


Ezra Pound referred to 1922 as Year One of a new era. It was the year that began with the publication of James Joyce's Ulysses and ended with the publication of T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, two works that were arguably "the sun and moon" of modernist literature, some would say of modernity itself.

In Constellation of Genius, Kevin Jackson puts the titanic achievements of Joyce and Eliot in the context of the world in which their works first appeared. As Jackson writes in his introduction, "On all sides, and in every field, there was a frenzy of innovation." It is in 1922 that Hitchcock directs his first feature; Kandinsky and Klee join the Bauhaus; the first AM radio station is launched; Walt Disney releases his first animated shorts; and Louis Armstrong takes a train from New Orleans to Chicago, heralding the age of modern jazz. On other fronts,

Einstein wins the Nobel Prize in Physics, insulin is introduced to treat diabetes, and the tomb of Tutankhamun is discovered. As Jackson writes, the sky was "blazing with a ‘constellation of genius' of a kind that had never been known before, and has never since been rivaled."

Constellation of Genius traces an unforgettable journey through the diaries of the actors, anthropologists, artists, dancers, designers, filmmakers, philosophers, playwrights, politicians, and scientists whose lives and works—over the course of twelve months—brought a seismic shift in the way we think, splitting the cultural world in two. Was this a matter of inevitability or of coincidence? That is for the reader of this romp, this hugely entertaining chronicle, to decide.

About the Author

Kevin Jackson has written for The New Yorker, Granta, The Sunday Times (London), The Guardian, and Vogue, among other publications. His books include The Worlds of John Ruskin, The Book of Hours, and Invisible Forms: A Guide to Literary Curiosities. He lives in Cambridge, England.

Praise For…

Constellation of Genius . . . is that most counterintuitive of things, an insanely readable book about modernism. Indeed, I think it no disservice to Jackson to say that this is the primer [modernism] has been looking for: a way into its symbolic labyrinth.” —Will Self, The Guardian

“A lively guide to modernism's heyday . . . Deft, elegant and illuminating. ” —Literary Review

“[A] marvelous diary of a single year . . . You will be struck by some startling moment of import in a life of genius or an epoch-making event. ” —Sunday Herald

Product Details
ISBN: 9780374128982
ISBN-10: 0374128987
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication Date: September 17th, 2013
Pages: 448
Language: English