He applied the “Page 99 Test” to his latest book, Modernism at the Barricades: Aesthetics, Politics, Utopia, and reported the following:
Thanks for inviting me to contribute to the blog about Modernism at the Barricades. And I agree to the page 99 test: According to Ford Madox Ford that page determines the quality of the book. I’m not sure that I would take the author at his word. After all, Ford Madox Ford wrote one of the great opening lines ever for The Good Soldier: “This is the saddest story ever told!” Anyway, when I open my book to page 99, I see “The Myth of the Surrealist Dialectic.” Hate to admit it: but that page is somewhat indicative of my general enterprise. Modernism at the Barricades explores the interplay between aesthetics, philosophy, and politics in the major avant-garde movements that marked the first three decades of the twentieth century. I mostly focus on figures who reflected that intersection. Andre Breton was one of them. The guiding force of surrealism, he was also a seminal figure of modernism. My engagement with him as a thinker and the philosophical pretensions of surrealism is critical in character. But that is the case for the book as a whole insofar as it seeks to reinterpret modernism with an eye on its legacy for our time and contemporary cultural politics. Oddly, then, perhaps Ford Madox Ford’s page 99 test has some value – or, as in the case of my book, he just got lucky.Learn more about Modernism at the Barricades at the Columbia University Press website.