By Jed Esty
This e-book describes a massive literary tradition stuck within the act of changing into minor. In 1939, Virginia Woolf wrote in her diary, ''Civilisation has shrunk.'' Her phrases captured not just the onset of global conflict II, but additionally a longer-term reversal of nationwide fortune. the 1st entire account of modernism and imperialism in England, A Shrinking Island tracks the joint eclipse of modernist aesthetics and British strength from the literary experiments of the Thirties throughout the upward thrust of cultural experiences within the 1950s.
Jed Esty explores the results of declining empire on modernist form--and at the very that means of Englishness. He levels from canonical figures (T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf) to influential midcentury intellectuals (J. M. Keynes and J.R.R. Tolkien), from cultural experiences pioneers (Raymond Williams and E. P. Thompson) to postwar migrant writers (George Lamming and Doris Lessing). targeting writing that converts the capability power of the contracting British country into the language of insular integrity, he argues that an anthropological ethos of cultural holism got here domestic to roost in late-imperial England. Esty's interpretation demanding situations renowned myths in regards to the loss of life of English literature. It portrays the survivors of the modernist iteration now not as aesthetic dinosaurs, yet as individuals within the transition from empire to welfare country, from metropolitan paintings to nationwide tradition. blending literary feedback with postcolonial concept, his account of London modernism's end-stages and after-lives offers a clean tackle significant works whereas redrawing the traces among modernism and postmodernism.
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Additional resources for A Shrinking Island: Modernism and National Culture in England
Eliot and Forster experimented with the production of pageant-plays, while Woolf’s ﬁnal novel, Between the Acts, takes a village pageant as its central subject. Few critics have taken account of this antiquarian, distinctly unmodernist genre, but its sudden prominence points up key dimensions of English modernism’s closing chapter. Modernist interest in folk-dramatic forms no doubt reﬂects at some level the need to establish alternative public ceremonies to the corporatist rituals of fascist Europe (and to mass cultural forms at home), but this renewed interest in native and Anglocentric rituals also takes shape within the broader logic of the anthropological turn.
A. Hobson’s Imperialism (1902). Hobson, like Forster, wrote in the aftermath of the Berlin Conference (1884) and the Boer War (1899–1902)—two events that deﬁned the vast scope of European imperialism in theory and revealed its strategic shakiness as a practice. Hobson roundly criticized the Great Powers for their conduct of global empire building. He called for Britain to abandon Joseph Chamberlain’s expansionist policy in favor of a more genuinely internationalist federation. Hobson’s Imperialism has become a wellknown text in the history of British colonial and anticolonial cultural debate, in part because Hobson—chieﬂy an economist—describes imperialism’s bad spiritual and aesthetic consequences.
But Cultural Studies nativism has not been fully contextualized as a postimperial effect, nor as the fulﬁllment of a latemodernist domestication of anthropology. As my readings will suggest, early Cultural Studies echoes the demetropolitanizing logic by which England becomes the archetype of cultural partic- L AT E M O D E R N IS M 21 ularism. This second-order universalism surfaces in the recurrent claim that England bears an exemplary relation to modernity: the country where industrial, imperial capitalism hit ﬁrst and hit hardest is also the country ﬁrst out the other side; it is the very paradigm of demodernization.
A Shrinking Island: Modernism and National Culture in England by Jed Esty