What binds together the literature I read, and write about here, is that the writers engage to varying degrees with the continuing spiritual vacuum of the last hundred or so years.
A crisis precipitated by a global war that began in 1914 continued unrelentingly in both hot and cold phases through to the early 1990s until a particular ideology secured a definitive victory. Concurrent and not unconnected with this prolonged conflict was a sense of disillusionment with the first massive imperialist project and the void left by an apparent collapse of religious and, in some sense, moral values.
As a consequence of this ideological victory the pace of industrialism and commercialism is unabated, and attempts to fill the spiritual vacuum with a particularly shallow form of consumer lead culture and an oddly puritanical morality.
The literary recognition of this crisis came to be termed modernism, whether approached by those excited with the freedoms of the time, or by those yearning for a bygone age. Malcolm Bradbury made this distinction between nostalgic first generation modernists and the more optimistic second generation modernists.
The need to struggle against an evolving and different crisis makes it more necessary than ever for writers to continue to engage with modernism. The writers who explore modernism most effectively are those than enable us to translate or reconfigure the sacred into new contexts. Those are mostly the writers you will read about on this blog.