This essay is an exploration of Robert Byron’s modernist practices. The Road to Oxiana displays a tension between on the one hand political issues, the complex negotiation with other cultures but also the awareness of conflicting identities within the (colonial) self, and on the other hand an indefatigable transcultural, humanist quest. The former is conveyed by the modernist cacophony and multivocalism of the text; the latter is the descriptive pursuit of the not-quite-verbal, the human essence revealed by the architectural substance. After a brief introduction to Byron’s textual negotiations between self and other, the essay moves on to consider how his concern for Arab culture intersects with his interest in abstract pictorialism. In this respect, parallels are drawn with Virginia Woolf and the impact of Clive Bell’s art criticism is shown, arguing that empiricist tenets and contemporary social evolutionism conspired, together with modernist abstraction, to produce his idea of pure architectural forms. Drawing on late nineteenth century anthropological discussions of the issue of independent invention, Byron creates — so I argue here — an anthropology of architecture to convey his intuition of the universality of man and his creative processes.

A Modernist Transcultural Quest: Robert Byron's The Road to Oxiana

COLOMBINO, LAURA
2011

Abstract

This essay is an exploration of Robert Byron’s modernist practices. The Road to Oxiana displays a tension between on the one hand political issues, the complex negotiation with other cultures but also the awareness of conflicting identities within the (colonial) self, and on the other hand an indefatigable transcultural, humanist quest. The former is conveyed by the modernist cacophony and multivocalism of the text; the latter is the descriptive pursuit of the not-quite-verbal, the human essence revealed by the architectural substance. After a brief introduction to Byron’s textual negotiations between self and other, the essay moves on to consider how his concern for Arab culture intersects with his interest in abstract pictorialism. In this respect, parallels are drawn with Virginia Woolf and the impact of Clive Bell’s art criticism is shown, arguing that empiricist tenets and contemporary social evolutionism conspired, together with modernist abstraction, to produce his idea of pure architectural forms. Drawing on late nineteenth century anthropological discussions of the issue of independent invention, Byron creates — so I argue here — an anthropology of architecture to convey his intuition of the universality of man and his creative processes.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11567/276569
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