Counter-revolution of the Word explores in great depth the antimodernist literary movement of the mid 20th century. Alan Filreis, author of Modernism from Right to Left: Wallace Stevens, the Thirties, & Literary Radicalism, here investigates the question: Why did American conservatives react so strongly against modernism?
In preparing for this book Filreis dug deeply into archives across the country, sifting through original documents and correspondence, to examine how the anticommunist witch hunt of the mid 20th century combined with, and helped fuel, antimodernist attacks on new poetry and experimental writing.
To conservatives, the language of modernism was a 'linguistically heretical' mode that sought to 'destroy the designed order.' Conservative poet Robert Hillyer and others considered linguistic 'difficulty' part of a grand design to reduce Americans to a state of helpless confusion.
All this seems surreal, almost unbelievable. Yet look around and see how some people even today brand others as 'unAmerican' simply because they prefer to think for themselves and draw their conclusions independently of what the power structure would have them believe.