Shows how early twentieth-century intelletuals imagined the "masses" as semihuman swarms, drugged by popular newspapers and cinema, and ripe for extermination
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John Carey is an Emeritus Professor at Oxford University. His books include studies of Donne, Dickens and Thackeray, The Intellectuals and the Masses, What Good Are the Arts?and a life of William Golding. He is also the editor of The Faber Book of Reportage, The Faber Book of Science and The Faber Book of Utopias.From Kirkus Reviews:
The obscurities of modern art and literature, according to Carey (English/Oxford; John Donne, 1981), were devised by the intelligentsia to exclude the new reading public for whom they had contempt--a thesis that Carey applies here to, among others, George Gissing, H.G. Wells, Arnold Bennett, and Wyndham Lewis. Nietzsche, Yeats, Shaw, Flaubert, Ibsen, Ortega y Gasset, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce--indeed the entire modernist movement, says Carey, depicted the ``masses'' and the popular culture they generated with disdain. These writers, the author contends, worshiped the lofty, isolated, high-minded artist who produced an alienating art without human or narrative content to which the masses could relate. Followers of Freud, the intelligentsia feared crowds and condemned their suburban refuges as culturally impoverished ecological disasters. Gissing concluded that the masses were ineducable, while Wells considered them manifestations of a ``biological catastrophe.'' Meanwhile, Bennett, the ``hero'' of Carey's study, believed that the people could be redeemed through the study of literature, although Wyndham Lewis- -whom Carey compares to Hitler--felt that the democracy they believed in was effeminate. The author attempts to demonstrate how Mein Kampf was firmly rooted in the intelligentsia's orthodoxy--and how the incineration of Jews was an extension of it. Members of The intelligentsia, he says, believed that they formed a natural aristocracy united by an esoteric body of knowledge that protected them from the herd. Concluding with a chilling analogy, Carey suggests that the influence and style of the turn-of-the-century intelligentsia survives in the obfuscations of contemporary criticism. Provocative, courageous, certainly stimulating--and reflecting a profound understanding of the often invisible yet potentially insidious relationship between aesthetics and politics, as well as of how art can be used to camouflage the most repugnant ideas. -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Book Description St Martins Pr, 1993. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Never used!. Bookseller Inventory # P110312098332