1922: Modernism and All That Jazz
Gloriously entertaining, supremely erudite and delightfully idiosyncractic - this is the diary of the spectacular year of 1922
1922. The spectacular year that F. Scott Fitzgerald chose as a backdrop for his most famous novel The Great Gatsby. It was also the year where James Joyce’s Ulysses and T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land were published, Alfred Hitchcock directed his first feature, the Ottoman Empire collapsed, Louis Armstrong took the train from New Orleans to Chicago and made Jazz the defining music of the age, and Hollywood transformed the nature of fame.
Constellation of Genius is the gloriously entertaining journey through the diaries of the actors, anthropologists, artists, dancers, designers, film-makers, philosophers, playwrights, politicians and scientists whose lives and works collided over twelve months, creating a frenzy of innovation and the beginning of a new era.
“Constellation of Genius is an insanely readable book about modernism. Indeed, I think it no disservice to Jackson to say that this is the primer the subject has been looking for: a way into its symbolic labyrinth for even the most literal-minded”
Will Self, Guardian
“[A] lively guide to modernism’s heyday … Almost every page yields something momentous or surprising of worth remembering, and the multitudinous footnotes, of which Jackson is a gleeful exploiter, add to the fun … Elegant and illuminating … A whizz-bang year.”
“Open this marvellous diary of a single year at any page and you will be struck by some startling moment of import in a life of genius or an epoch-making event.”
“Brilliantly erudite and very funny.”
“Drawing on diaries, letters and other snippets, Jackson composes a day-by-day account of his chosen year . . . Popular and high culture are equally celebrated in this Barnum’s Circus of a book. The volume is beautifully produced.”
“Jackson writes well, with a good sense of detail, and when he gets going he provides nuggets of tasty trivia even for those who know something about the subject already.”
“This historical diary isn’t defined by literary achievement alone, despite the many and fascinating activities of Hemingway, Woolf, and Lawrence on almost every other page… although it’s in 1922 that Hitchcock directed his first film and Walt Disney released his first cartoon, it’s the political clouds looming in Germany and Russia, with violent turmoil in Ireland, that really stand out in this extraordinary year.”
Independent on Sunday