By John Carey
In this landmark research, John Carey analyzes the elitest perspectives of a few of the main hugely revered literary icons of the overdue nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This e-book, as outlined in his preface, "is in regards to the reaction of the English literary intelligentsia to the recent phenomenon of mass culture." Readers might be stunned to profit that H.G. Wells beloved to imagine that this newly emerged "mass" will be eradicated by means of plague and atomic bombs; that Yeats needed them to perish in an apocalyptic warfare opposed to the knowledgeable sessions and that D.H. Lawrence visualized an immense deadly chamber within which they can be exterminated. John Carey's devastating assault at the intellectuals exposes the loathing which the mass of humanity ignited in lots of of the digital founders of contemporary tradition: G.B. Shaw, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot and others. Professor Carey compares their detestation of universal humanity to Nietzsche, whose philosophy helped create the ambience resulting in the increase of Adolph Hitler. Any pupil of recent literature and heritage will locate John Carey's incisive booklet either enlightening and aggravating, a vital learn for an entire realizing of the place we're this day.
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Extra info for The Intellectuals And The Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligensia, 1880-1939
The time must come, Ortega predicts, when society will reorganize itself into ‘two orders or ranks: the illustrious and the vulgar’. Modern art, by demonstrating that men are not equal, brings this historical development nearer. The means by which modern art antagonizes the masses is, Ortega observes, dehumanization. The masses seek human interest in art. In poetry, for example, they seek ‘the passion and pain of the man behind the poet’. They do not want the ‘purely aesthetic’. According to Ortega, these preferences prove the inferiority of the mass, because ‘grieving and rejoicing at such human destinies as a work of art presents or narrates [is] a very different thing from true artistic pleasure’.
Leavis writes in the belief that ‘culture is at a crisis’ unprecedented in history. The mass media – radio, film, Northcliffe’s newspapers – have brought about ‘an overthrow of standards’. The small minority capable of a discerning appreciation of art and literature, on whom ‘the possibilities of fine living at any time’ depend, is beleaguered and ‘cut off as never before from the powers that rule the world’. Authority has disappeared and, Leavis observes, an ominous new term, ‘highbrow’, has come into being to designate deviants like himself.
So was logical coherence. Irrationality and obscurity were cultivated. ‘Poets in our civilization, as it exists at present, must be difficult,’ decreed T. S. 46 How deliberate this process of alienating the mass audience was is, of course, problematic and no doubt differed from case to case. But the placing of art beyond the reach of the mass was certainly deliberate at times. As Val Cunningham points out in his British Writers of the Thirties, Geoffrey Grigson founded the periodical New Verse in 1933 quite explicitly as a reaction against mass values.
The Intellectuals And The Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligensia, 1880-1939 by John Carey