Commonwealth of Letters: British Literary Culture and the Emergence of Postcolonial Aesthetics (Modernist Literature and Culture)

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9780199977970: Commonwealth of Letters: British Literary Culture and the Emergence of Postcolonial Aesthetics (Modernist Literature and Culture)

Commonwealth of Letters examines midcentury literary institutions integral to modernism and postcolonial writing. Several organizations central to interwar modernism, such as the BBC, influential publishers, and university English departments, became important sites in the emergence of postcolonial literature after the war. How did some of modernism's leading figures of the 1930s-such as T.S. Eliot, Louis MacNeice, and Stephen Spender-come to admire late colonial and early postcolonial literature in the 1950s? Similarly, why did late colonial and early postcolonial writers-including Chinua Achebe, Kamau Brathwaite, Claude McKay, and Ngugi wa Thiong'o-actively seek alliances with metropolitan intellectuals? Peter Kalliney's original and extensive archival work on modernist cultural institutions demonstrates that this disparate group of intellectuals had strong professional incentives to treat one another more as fellow literary professionals, and less as political or cultural antagonists.

Surprisingly, metropolitan intellectuals and their late colonial counterparts leaned heavily on modernist theories of aesthetic autonomy to facilitate their collaborative ventures. For white, metropolitan writers, T.S. Eliot's notion of impersonality could help recruit new audiences and conspirators from colonized regions of the world. For black, colonial writers, aesthetic autonomy could be used to imagine a literary sphere uniquely resistant to the forms of racial prejudice endemic to the colonial system. This strategic collaboration did not last forever, but as Commonwealth of Letters shows, it left a lasting imprint on the ultimate disposition of modernism and the evolution of postcolonial literature.

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About the Author:


Peter Kalliney is Associate Professor of English at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of Cities of Affluence and Anger: A Literary Geography of Modern Englishness.

Review:


"Peter Kalliney's fine book combines a subtle historical sociology of literature with skillful close readings of literary texts to provide a new mapping of the period of late literary modernism and early postcolonial literature. ... Kalliney has a rare gift for joining clear, consistent argument to subtle analysis that is open to complexity and contradiction. ... This book should change the way that scholars of postcolonial literature and modernist literature view the cultural history of this period." --New West Indian Guide


"Commonwealth of Letters is an original and revisionist account of the historical encounter between the writers and institutions of English modernism and late colonial intellectuals, informed by solid archival research and refreshing new readings of the postcolonial canon, and keenly attuned to the complex history of cultural exchanges across the Atlantic." --Simon Gikandi, author of Slavery and the Culture of Taste


"For too long, modernist autonomy and postcolonial politics were thought to be antithetical. This book's splendid research deals this dichotomy a convincing blow. With illuminating insights into crossracial networks in radio, publishing, and other cultural institutions, Kalliney brilliantly shows how modernism enriched African and Caribbean literatures and was itself sustained by them." --Jahan Ramazani, author of A Transnational Poetics


"A fascinating study which explores how modernist ideas influenced a generation of black and white writers-often working sideby-side-and created international networks of affiliation which rise up above race or geography. An illuminating and convincing examination of Anglophone literary history in the second half of the twentieth century." -- Caryl Phillips, author of Color Me English: Migration and Belonging Before and After 9/11


"This densely argued study covers a lot of ground, from literary modernism to postcolonial Anglophone literature from the West Indies and Afria. The book's bibloiography testifies to Kalliney's prodigious research." --M.S. Vogeler, emerita, California State University, Fullerton, CHOICE


"Kalliney's argument is extensive, meticulously researched, and compellingly revisionist... Kalliney provides a startling and thorough reimagining of the complex lines of aesthetic, philosophic, and institutional affiliation between metropolitan and colonial authors in the period 1930-70." --Novel


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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2013. Hardback. Book Condition: New. 239 x 155 mm. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Commonwealth of Letters complicates the traditional understanding of the relationship between elite, aging modernists like T.S. Eliot and the generation of colonial poets and novelists from Africa and the Caribbean- Kamau Brathwaite, Ngugi wa Thiong o, Jean Rhys, and others-who rose to prominence after World War Two. Rather than a mostly one-sided relationship of exploitation, Kalliney emphasizes how both groups depended on-and thrived off-one another. The modernists, dispirited by the turn to a kind of bland, welfare-state realism in literature and the rise of commercial mass culture, sought rejuvenation and kindred spirits amongst a group of emigre writers from the Caribbean and Africa who had been educated in the literary curriculum exported to the colonies in the years before 1945. For their part, the postcolonial writers, ambitious for literary success and already skeptical of the trend toward corruption and philistinism among their compatriot anticolonial politicians, sought the access to cultural capital and the comforting embrace of literature provided by metropolitan modernists. As a result, modernist networks became defined by the exchange between metropolitan and colonial writers. In several chapters, Kalliney provides compelling analyses of colonial writers in postwar cultural institutions, such as the BBC, literary anthologies, and high profile English publishers such as Faber Faber and Heinemann, developer of the African Writers Series. Throughout, Kalliney acknowledges the elements of cultural imperialism, and paternalism involved in these relationships; however, he broadens our perspective on postcolonial writers by emphasizing the strategic ways they manipulated these elite modernist networks to advance their own cultural agendas.Transatlantic Modernism and the Emergence of Postcolonial Literature is a study of midcentury literary institutions integral to modernism and postcolonial writing. Several organizations central to interwar modernism, such as the BBC, influential publishers, and university English departments, became important sites in the emergence of postcolonial literature after the war. How did some of modernism s leading figures of the 1930s, such as T.S. Eliot, Louis MacNeice, and Stephen Spender, come to admire late colonial and early postcolonial literature in the 1950s? Similarly, why did late colonial and early postcolonial writers-including Chinua Achebe, Kamau Brathwaite, Claude McKay, and Ngugi wa Thiong o-actively seek alliances with metropolitan intellectuals? Peter Kalliney s original archival work on modernist cultural institutions demonstrates that this disparate group of intellectuals had strong professional incentives to treat one another more as fellow literary professionals, and less as political or cultural antagonists. Surprisingly, metropolitan intellectuals and their late colonial counterparts leaned heavily on modernist theories of aesthetic autonomy to facilitate their collaborative ventures. For white, metropolitan writers, T.S. Eliot s notion of impersonality could help recruit new audiences and conspirators from colonized regions of the world. For black, colonial writers, aesthetic autonomy could be used to imagine a literary sphere uniquely resistant to the forms of racial prejudice endemic to the colonial system. This strategic collaboration did not last forever, but it left a lasting imprint on the ultimate disposition of modernism and the evolution of postcolonial literature. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780199977970

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Book Description Oxford UP Inc, 2013. Book Condition: Brand New. Peter Kalliney's original archival work demonstrates that metropolitan and colonial intellectuals used modernist theories of aesthetic autonomy to facilitate collaborative ventures. Bookseller Inventory # a26929

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Book Description 2013. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. 152mm x 28mm x 236mm. Hardcover. Commonwealth of Letters complicates the traditional understanding of the relationship between elite, aging modernists like T.S. Eliot and the generation of colonial poets and .Shipping may be from our Sydney, NSW warehouse or from our UK or US warehouse, depending on stock availability. 316 pages. 0.635. Bookseller Inventory # 9780199977970

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