Ricorso and Revelation

Ricorso and Revelation

An Archetypal Poetics of Modernism

Evans Lansing Smith


Camden House



First book to investigate the links between the Modernist movement and the archaeological discoveries of the period.
Ricorso and Revelation traces the impact on Modernism of the archaeological discoveries of the Palace of Knossos, the Royal Cemetery of Ur, and the Tomb of Tutankhamen, and the artifacts recovered from these sites, showing how they entered the narrative strategies of the Modernist movement. The author also develops a new argument about the four myth configurations — the maze, alchemy, the Great Goddess, and the Apocalypse — which were of central importance to the literature of European Modernism between 1895 and 1946, studying their appearances in a wide range of European modernist writers and in the paintings of Picasso and the films of Jean Cocteau. Drawing from a variety of theories on myth, Smith suggests that each of these four myths represents a creative return to the origins (ricorso), a reduction of the raw materials of daily life to the fundamental elements of creation (revelation), followed by a recreation of the world (cosmogenesis), of the poet (ontogenesis), and of the text (poesis).


July 1995
200 pages
22.8x15.2 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571130662
Format: Hardback
Camden House
BISAC ART015100, SOC003000
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"The book provides a wealth of information about such seminal modernist sources as Sir Wallis Budge's 1904 study of the Egyptian labyrinth, J. J. Bachofen's mid-nineteenth-century Das Mutterrecht, a work on the Great Goddess particularly influential for such German writers as Thomas Mann and Hermann Hesse, and the Corpus Hermeticum. The weight of all the details, all complexly interrelated, makes Smith's case for a mythic undercurrent in modernism of 'ricorso and revelation'" ROCKY MOUNTAIN REVIEW
"prehistoric and classical mythology to whet their imagination." Robert Weninger, GQ

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