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date: 21 September 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The poignant, ‘out-worn time’ suggested by Yeats’s Celtic Twilight pervades the reception not just of Celticism, but of several other historicist and antiquarian movements active in the late nineteenth century. The image of a ‘twilight’ suggests the last romantic glow of a dying day, and of a world whose vanishing is somehow heightened, or self-conscious. This essay questions the logic in assigning contemporary art movements to ‘the past’. Focusing in particular on medievalism, it argues that this multifarious tendency should be regarded not as a sentimental reversion, but as a distinctive outgrowth of modernity, and an influence on modernism. The essay revisits Nikolaus Pevsner’s influential claim that the Bauhaus derived its insistence on functional form from the example of Morris, Ruskin and Pugin. It also attempts to reconstitute the ‘modernity’ of those who believed that the future—whether architectural, political, or the poetic—must in some degree be ‘medieval’.

Keywords: modernity, modernism, medievalism, Ruskin, Morris, First World War, Bauhaus, British literature, Jones, Pound

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