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Reviews

"Josh Epstein’s Sublime Noise is an original, intellectually capacious, and frequently brilliant analysis of the theoretical and material relationships between writers of the modernist period in America, Ireland, and England, and the music of their cultures—both received 'classics' of the nineteenth century and the experimental 'new music' of their times. Each superb chapter articulates a complex argument that reinvigorates many of the most canonical texts of modernism."

"Epstein's erudite book, written with panache, will provide intellectual joy to any reader interested in diffraction patterns between music and culture in the twentieth century. Its arresting thesis reverses Pater's famous dictum: all art aspires to the condition of noise. But the signal-to-noise ratio of Epstein's own writing is remarkably high."

"Epstein commands an impressively wide field of reference and his writing is always lively, richly textured and colourful – sometimes brilliantly so... Sublime Noise is a thought-provoking study, densely packed with intelligent connections and highly resonant."

"... he writes beautifully, has researched widely and deeply, and is clearly in command of his material. The most admirable thing about this exquisitely dilatory book is that each sentence has its own rhythm."

"... compelling contribution to an increasingly interdisciplinary field of modernist studies, while broadening our understanding of the aesthetic and socio-political importance of the aural to the development of modernist literary culture."

"Josh Epstein’s Sublime Noise: Musical Culture and the Modernist Writer is exhilarating reading... Epstein quotes Theodor Adorno’s dictum, "What crackles in artworks is the sound of the friction of the antagonistic elements that the artwork seeks to unify," and one appreciates a similar crackling in Epstein’s book, not that of antagonistic elements frustrating critical attempts at unification but rather that of a critic’s rigorous and sympathetic attention to the ungovernable (indeed, the sublime) operations of noise in modernism’s literary aesthetic."