By Jed Esty
This booklet describes a tremendous 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 worldwide battle II, but additionally a longer-term reversal of nationwide fortune. the 1st accomplished account of modernism and imperialism in England, A Shrinking Island tracks the joint eclipse of modernist aesthetics and British energy from the literary experiments of the Nineteen Thirties during the upward push of cultural reviews within the 1950s.
Jed Esty explores the consequences 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 stories pioneers (Raymond Williams and E. P. Thompson) to postwar migrant writers (George Lamming and Doris Lessing). concentrating on writing that converts the capability strength of the contracting British kingdom 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 demise of English literature. It portrays the survivors of the modernist iteration no longer as aesthetic dinosaurs, yet as individuals within the transition from empire to welfare kingdom, from metropolitan artwork 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 strains among modernism and postmodernism.
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Extra resources for A Shrinking Island: Modernism and National Culture in England
Imperial sciences like geography and anthropology produced vast amounts of new information, including works such as J. G. Frazer’s encyclopedic mythography, The Golden Bough (a famous source text for both Eliot and Lawrence). A stream of people, ideas, objects, and aesthetics was ﬂowing from the exotic fringes toward the metropolis, shaping and inﬂecting modernist form. Along these lines, Kumkum Sangari suggests this summary of metropolitan culture: “the freewheeling appropriations of modernism also coincide with and are dependent on the rigorous documentation, inventory, and reclassiﬁcation of ‘Third World’ cultural products by the museum/library archive.
Although his attachment to the wheel of progress falters, it is held together by habit, obligation, and a lingering suspicion that the Road cannot be escaped. But when the protagonist attempts to return to the Road of modernity, to heed what he calls the “destiny of our race,” his body recoils from the gate, unable or unwilling to break back through the hedge. ”2 As he loses consciousness, enfolded in the ground of the inner zone, the protagonist recognizes the face of a long-lost brother, another refugee from the Road.
27 On the other hand, as Said goes on to suggest, 30 CHAPTER ONE several of modernism’s aesthetic hallmarks—including that same pervasive irony—can be understood as formal correlates to high imperialism. This second view deemphasizes modernism’s sporadic rhetorical or critical engagements with the question of empire in favor of a set of hypotheses about imperialism’s indirect impact on modernist form. As I have suggested, both Fredric Jameson’s account of Forster’s stylistic inﬁnities and Raymond Williams’s concept of “metropolitan perception” represent key formulations of this second premise, in which epistemological privilege in the metropolis enables certain characteristic forms of modernist thought and expression.
A Shrinking Island: Modernism and National Culture in England by Jed Esty