December 1910: When It All Changed

  “In or about December, 1910, human character changed”. So asserted Virginia Woolf in a paper read to the Heretics Society at Cambridge in May 1924, and later published as “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown” (Collected Essays, Volume 1, 1925, p.320 [MBMB]). This has become a famous observation, marking the emergence of Modernism in Britain, and it has been taken up by many literary and cultural historians. For Irving Howe, the date identified a “frightening discontinuity between the traditional past and the shaken present … the line of history has been bent, perhaps broken”, so that the essence of Modernism lies…

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