NPR

'The World Broke In Two': Four Writers, One Transformational Year

Using excerpts from letters and diaries, historian and critic Bill Goldstein follows writers Virginia Woolf, E. M. Forster, D. H. Lawrence and T. S. Eliot through the tumultuous literary year of 1922.

The title of literary historian Bill Goldstein's book refers to a familiar quote from writer Willa Cather. In a 1936 essay, sensing that the literary landscape had shifted under her feet and that her own work was passing out of fashion, she lamented,"The world broke in two in 1922 or thereabouts."

She was referring to the appearance, in that year, of three towering works of modernism: James Joyce's Ulysses, T. S. Eliot's The Waste Land, and the English publication of the first volume of Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time.

The ingenious rigorously limits itself to the span of days from January 1st to December 31st, 1922.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

Related Interests

More from NPR

NPR2 min readPolitics
China's Economy Slows To Record Low, While Trump Pushes U.S. Iron And Steel
The pace of growth in the second quarter was at its lowest since 1992, when China's records began. The National Bureau of Statistics attributed the change to a complicated international environment.
NPR2 min readSociety
'Women,' 'Girls,' 'Children': Reporting On Epstein, Kelly Charges
Two high-profile men were arrested in recent days and charged with sexual crimes involving minors. Listeners had concerns about how NPR in some instances referred to those allegations, arguing that the language sanitized the severity of the charges.
NPR4 min readPolitics
Democrats Have The Religious Left. Can They Win The Religious Middle?
Faith voters who have a mix of liberal and conservative values are up for grabs in the 2020 election. Democrats hope to win them over.