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Dividing Lines: Poetry, Class and Ideology in the 1930s (Cultural Politics)

Caesar, Adrian

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ISBN 10: 0719033764 / ISBN 13: 9780719033766
Published by Manchester Univ Pr
Used Condition: Very Good Soft cover
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Title: Dividing Lines: Poetry, Class and Ideology ...

Publisher: Manchester Univ Pr


Book Condition:Very Good

About this title


The author states that literary historians appear to see the development of poetry 1930-1960 as a series of actions and reactions, taking place with remarkable consistency decade by decade. In this model certain groups of poets are chosen as "representative" of a decade. In this way Auden and his supposed acolytes are said to represent the 1930s and the social and political interest of that decade. The poetry of the 1940s is then dismissed as an unfortunate reaction, both political and aesthetic, to Auden and the "Audenesque", and is characterized by the words "Neo" or "New" Romanticism. The poets of the New Apocalypse movement are seen as indicative of this trend, as is the work of Dylan Thomas. Finally in the 1950s, Larkin and the "Movement" poets are seen in turn reacting against Neo-Romanticism, and their bete noir, Dylan Thomas: they vote labour, espouse "reason" and "purity of diction". Itseemed that poets and editors in each decade, anxious to carve out a place and a career for themselves, had advertised themselves in these terms and succeeded, in so far as their not disinterested versions of what they were doing had been accepted and repeated by later literary historians. Furthermore, it seemed that this pattern of literary historical development entailed a willingness to ignore or distort much that was being written in each decade. Certain styles with their attendant aesthetic and political ideologies were being privileged at the expense of others that were not necessarily inferior. The author concludes that a process is at work which "mythologises" each decade, in the sense that Roland Barthes uses the word "myth". Ideas, images and words are linked by habitual association and accrue significances not necessarily inherent in them, which can come to have the appearance of truth. It is in this way that it has become "natural" when thinking of poetry of the 1930s to think immediately of Auden firstly, and then of Day Lewis, Spender and MacNeice. In this book the author examines the matrix of ideas, words and images which constitute this myth of the 1930s.

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