The Affections of Modern Fiction
DiBattista argues that modernity reinvented First Love as a myth of creative initiative, as its characteristic response to a pervasive sense of historical belatedness. Anxious that its own creations can never be more than diminished forms of mightier originals, modernity idolizes First Love as the beginning that can never be repeated. First Love hence epitomizes the dream of a new self-incarnation. From Turgenev's First Love to the formative works of Virginia Woolf, Gertrude Stein, E. M. Forster, and Vladimir Nabokov, First Love confirms the birth of an artistic vocation. For modern men and women intent on becoming the original authors of their own lives, First Love becomes paradigmatic of those life-altering moments that transform the undifferentiated sequence of days into a fateful narrative.
DiBattista focuses on the enunciation of First Love in the fiction of Thomas Hardy, D. H. Lawrence, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett. In reading their works, DiBattista dramatically revises the accepted view of irony as the dominant tone of modernism. First Love constitutes, she shows, a new apprehension of the world characterized not by the frigid distances of irony but by a belief in the creative individual who may begin the world anew, as if for the first time.
The "Adventure" of First Love
1. First Love
2. The Modern Idols
3. The Return of the Native: First Love, Guilt, and Reparation
4. Erotoleptic Narrative: Hardy's Jude the Obscure
5. Angelic Lawrence: The Rainbow
6. Women in Love: Lawrence's Judgment Book
7. Joyce's Endearing Form
8. Beckett's Affections
9. A Defense of First Love
Appendix: Hardy's Primal Scene