Mary Butts was well known in the Anglo-American modernist circles in Paris in the 1920s. During her lifetime, her work was highly regarded by fellow writers such as Marianne Moore and Ezra Pound, her books were illustrated by Jean Cocteau, her poetry published in influential journals such as The Egoist and The Transatlantic Review. After her death, however, her star waned and her work fell into obscurity.
In this episode, we discuss her 1928 novel, Armed With Madness. Over the course of the programme, we consider the possible reasons for her the descent of her reputation, the mythological and literary underpinnings of Armed With Madness, and think about the ways in which her novel expands the palette of what we think of as modernism.
The Journals of Mary Butts, ed. by Nathalie Blondel (Yale University Press, 2008)
'Religion and the Occult in Women's Modernism' by Heather Ingman in The Cambridge Companion to Modernists Women Writers ed. by Maren Tova Linett (Cambridge University Press, 2010)
'Defending Nature's Holy Shrine: Mary Butts, Englishness, and the Persephone Myth' by Andrew Radford in Journal of Modern Literature, Vol. 29, No. 3 (Spring, 2006)
'Mary Butts's "Unrest Cure" for the Wasteland' by Jennifer Kroll in Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 45, No. 2 (Summer, 1999)
From Ritual to Romance (1920) by Jessie L. Weston