Journeying through the Constellation of Genius: Into February…

And so we move into February which signals a new stage for me on my journey through 1922, guided by Kevin Jackson’s Constellation of Genius (Hutchinson). Although distracted massively in January due to family matters, I still managed to read and review Agatha Christie’s second novel, The Secret Adversary, published 26th January 1922, and watch and review Erich von Stroheim’s silent epic, Foolish Wives, released on 11th January 1922. I set out on this voyage to get a real taste of the year that Jackson refers to as ‘year one of modernism’ and even at this early stage I feel that I’m getting a much better understanding of this monumental year, and a clearer picture of how everything clicked together. I’m actually rather pleased I took up this project. Kudos to Mr. Jackson for being such an articulate and engaging ‘tour guide’.

On to February then and the 1922 highlights I’ll be focussing on during the month. Firstly, I should say that the day that I write this (2nd February) is the anniversary of the publication of one of the pillars of modernist literature – James Joyce’s Ulysses. By rights I should be primarily focussing on this book during February, but as the novel is so dense, and because it’s one of the two key publications that anchors Jackson’s theory that 1922 was the year that modernism established itself, I want my afterthoughts on Ulysses (and T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land) to be the icing on the cake – the crowning glory – of my journey through 1922. I intend therefore to spend the entire year slowly and meticulously working my way through Ulysses, possibly rewriting it as I go, in an attempt to not only fully understand it, but to completely absorb it.

The Clicking Of Cuthbert by P G WodehouseSo, which 1922 highlights *will* I be focussing on during the month of February? Well firstly, on the 3rd of February 1922, P.G. Wodehouse published a golfing-themed story collection – The Clicking of Cuthbert – which was the first publication that featured one of his most enduring characters, the ‘Oldest Member’. I intend to begin reading through the stories from this collection starting tomorrow (the anniversary date), and posting my final afterthoughts on the collection towards the end of February. Another short story collection was published in February 1922, namely Katherine Mansfield’s The Garden Party and Other Stories, and so I will also be working through this story-by-story throughout the month. I should add that I’ve never read either of these authors to any great depth, so I’m excited, aside from anything else, at the prospect of new discovery.

Buster Keaton Cops posterIn cinema, Buster Keaton’s comic two-reeler Cops was released by the First National company on 15th February 1922, and so I intend to post my afterthoughts on this, together perhaps, with afterthoughts on five other two-reelers that Kevin Jackson mentions Buster Keaton producing during 1922. I’m big fan of Keaton, and remember watching Cops a few years ago. I’ve never watched it for the purpose of review though, so it’s an altogether different kettle of fish for me.

All in all then another seminal month from 1922 – especially with the publication of Ulysses of course – and I look forward to enjoying all that I’ve lined up to give me a further taste of this extraordinary year. If you feel inclined to join me then please do so. All that I’ve spoken about above is freely available to read or watch via the Internet (you’ll note that I’ve hyperlinked only to free resources), and it would be a delight to have a travelling buddy or two with me as I traverse the cultural landscape of February 1922. Also, keep an eye out on Twitter for incidental tweets from me under the hashtag #ConstellationofGenius, as I reveal further key highlights from February 1922, as pointed to by Kevin Jackson.

About Rob

Rob, a self-confessed bibliophile, is without any hope of rehabilitation. He gets unnaturally excited over anything book-shaped, and if book sniffing were a crime then he would have been locked up years ago (which wouldn't bother him in the slightest provided his cell was lined with books).