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The Problem with PleasureModernism and Its Discontents$
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Laura Frost

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780231152723

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231152723.001.0001

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The Repudiation of Pleasure

(p.1) Introduction
The Problem with Pleasure

Laura Frost

Columbia University Press

This book explores the interwar debate about pleasure and the rise of unpleasure, with particular emphasis on how pleasure is reconceptualized in modernist literature. Focusing on stimulants as diverse as perfume, bearskin rugs, Rudolph Valentino, and linguistic puzzles, as well as experiences ranging from wordplay to foreplay, tickling, and drunkenness, the book investigates the counterintuitive condemnation of experiences of delight and enjoyment as a discursive issue in modernism. It places pleasure at the center of the twentieth century and casts the history of literary modernism as a tumultuous and revealing chapter in the history of bliss. It considers how modernism's signature formal rhetorics, including irony, fragmentation, indirection, and allusiveness, promote a particularly knotty, arduous reading effect. It also discusses the theory of unpleasure as a dialectical approach to the opposition of pain and pleasure that describes modernist sensibilities.

Keywords:   pleasure, unpleasure, modernist literature, delight, enjoyment, literary modernism, bliss, irony, allusiveness, pain

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