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    Ronald Firbank and the legacy of camp modernism

    Edwards, Richard Dickon (2022) Ronald Firbank and the legacy of camp modernism. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    The aim of this thesis is to produce the first full-length history of camp modernism as a literary style. It draws upon a broad and inclusive scope of materials, covering the field of British and American prose fiction from the early twentieth century to the present day. The investigation argues that the strongest example of camp modernism within this field is the work of the neglected British novelist Ronald Firbank (1886-1926). When exploring this concept in the work of other writers, a familiarity with Firbank is shown to be an asset. Chapter One mines a wealth of rare archival materials to trace an intersecting history of the terms ‘camp’ and ‘modernism’, from the slang uses of ‘camp’ during the Victorian age to the first serious discussions of ‘camp modernism’ in 2016. In the process, Firbank is revealed to have been labelled with both terms from as early as the 1920s. Chapter Two engages with Firbank’s works, life, and reputation to show how he built on his influences, particularly late Victorian decadence. The chapter shows how Firbank fused a Wildean camp style of exaggerated and satirical humour with a Joycean modernist spirit of difficulty, fragmentation, and ellipsis. The remaining three chapters locate the Firbankian aesthetic within works by a diverse range of writers. Chapter Three’s examples are recognized modernists: Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, and Djuna Barnes. Chapter Four covers twentieth-century authors beyond the modernist canon: Norman Douglas, Aldous Huxley, Richard Bruce Nugent, Evelyn Waugh, Charles Henri Ford and Parker Tyler, Ivy Compton-Burnett, Brigid Brophy, and Angela Carter. Finally, Chapter Five examines the legacy of Firbank in four contemporary writers, contrasting the established and popular Alan Hollinghurst with three radical and emerging non-binary authors: Lauren John Joseph, Isabel Waidner, and Shola von Reinhold.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 16 Feb 2022 16:53
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 15:20


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