Whatever Happened to Modernism? by Gabriel Josipovici

What Ever Happened to Modernism? BY Gabriel Josipovici. Yale University Press. Hardcover, 224 pages. $28.
The cover of What Ever Happened to Modernism?

The French poet Paul Valéry (1871-1945) once said that he could never write a novel because sooner or later he would find himself setting down such a sentence as "The marquise went out at five o'clock." Why did the marquise leave at five? he wondered. Why not at six or seven? In fact, why did she go out at all? And why a "marquise"? Why not a duchess or a washerwoman? The arbitrary nature of narrative devices irked Valéry; they pretended to an authority that was, at bottom, a sham. They invited us to treat mere fancy as hard fact.