David Farley is Associate Professor at the Institute of Core Studies at St John’s University and is the author of Modernist Travel Writing: Intellectuals Abroad (University of Missouri Press, 2010). He lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Modernism has always been bound up for me with travel, with politics, and with protest. I got my first passport and traveled to what was then the Soviet Union in January of 1987. It was the dead of winter and the twilight of the Cold War when we visited Moscow, Leningrad, and the Central Asian Republic of Uzbekistan, where the calligraphic beauty of the Islamic design on the madrassahs in Samarkand echoed the ornate beauty of St Basil’s Cathedral back in Moscow. When I returned home, I read for the first time the Anglophone modernist writers whose obscure and difficult texts spoke to the shock of international travel that had resonated so strongly with me.