The Ancients and the Postmoderns: On the Historicity of Forms

Fredric Jameson



Jameson, a professor of comparative literature and professor of Romance studies, sweeps from the Renaissance to “The Wire” in his latest book of cultural criticism.

High modernism is now as far from us as antiquity was for the Renaissance. Such is the premise of Jameson’s major new work in which modernist works, this time in painting (Rubens) and music (Wagner and Mahler), are pitted against late-modernist ones (in film) as well as a variety of postmodern experiments (from SF to The Wire, from “Eurotrash” in opera to Altman and East German literature): all of which attempt, in their different ways, to invent new forms to grasp a specific social totality. Throughout the historical periods, he argues, the question of narrative persists through its multiple formal changes and metamorphoses.