[ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 30, Issue 8_ overprivileged aestheticism (Denise Tart & David Green)

Sumantra Nag sumantranag at gmail.com
Sun Sep 27 03:35:33 PDT 2009


Re: Message: 2
Date: Sat, 26 Sep 2009 08:56:06 +1000
From: "Denise Tart & David Green" <dtart at bigpond.net.au>

David wrote: "I reckon Larry wrote quite consciously against the style of which reb brick university Eagleton would have approved.."

David, I wonder if the label of "Redbrick" is of significance any more. Terry Eagleton read English at Cambridge where he was also  research fellow and then spent many years at Oxford where he became Thomas Warton Professor of English Literature before moving on to Manchester and Lancaster. And F.R. Leavis at Cambridge was of course a major influence in literary criticism during and after his time. 

I don't know whether you noticed my recent post on ILDS where the tastes and prejudices of readers and Oxford critics alike are examined. (ILDS Digest, Vol 30, Issue 5, Sept. 24.) There is a marked antipathy towards "aestheticism" in literature. Am just giving the reference with a few pointers:
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1. http://www.lrb.co.uk/v27/n20/wood02_.html   
"...the three most prominent Oxford professors of English since the war...John Carey, scourge of Modernist 'intellectuals' and reliable dribbler of cold water on all forms of overheated aestheticism, comes across as the last defender of sensible English decency. Terry Eagleton, ... increasingly presents himself as the sensible Marxist alternative to toothless and ornate theory in America and continental Europe. And John Bayley ...attempts to defend the sensible common reader against academic criticism tout court. In their puritanism (Carey), suspicion of overprivileged aestheticism (Carey and Eagleton), ...all three critics are far more marked by F.R. Leavis than they would probably like to admit; they would all agree, for instance, along with Leavis, to a marked suspicion of Virginia Woolf, for interestingly similar reasons..."

2.  http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/journal_of_modern_literature/v026/26.3levitt01.pdf

"We will never, I fear, fully comprehend the mystery of the English hostility to the Modernist novel after the Second World War, a rejection so profound that it seems to the outsider to be positively perverse....the extreme, reactionary chauvinism that motivated English critics and novelists alike from 1945 until well into the 1980s..."
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David closes his post with the following brave unequivocal toast to aestheticism:

"I would like to propose a toast in the finest wine known to humanity to overprivileged aetheticism, long may it continue to grace the world as a civilised and restraining influence on Wildean model or the model of Norman Douglas."

What about a revival of literary aestheticism? But where are the novelists or writers in prose? I can't comment adequately about poetry at present. 

Best wishes

Sumantra


----- Original Message ----- 
>   2. overprivileged aestheticism (Denise Tart & David Green)
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> Message: 2
> Date: Sat, 26 Sep 2009 08:56:06 +1000
> From: "Denise Tart & David Green" <dtart at bigpond.net.au>
> Subject: [ilds] overprivileged aestheticism
> To: "Durrel" <ilds at lists.uvic.ca>
> Message-ID: <7B3FE25962B64827A4BF92002FA9E722 at MumandDad>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
> 
> Terry Eagleton comes across as an old style intellectual commo of a type I was very familiar with at University in the early 80's. You can tell by the text Sumatra posted that he has that hate mongering leftist tone such one used to find in the Guardian newspaper. I can easily imagine that Durrell's Raj background and literary aspiration without a university degree would have annoyed the puritanical Eagleton enormously - in the same way that Albert Finney did not get on with Gerald when the two were working on a film version of My Family and Other Animals. Here is Douglas Botting:
> 
> Gerald and Finney were unable to form much personal rapport, for Finnet regarded Gerald as an overprivileged product of the Raj - or so it seemed to Gerald - while Gerald grew weary of Finney's exegesis of his own underprivileged working class childhood (pp 344 - 345 Harper Collins paperback)
> 
> I reckon Larry wrote quite consciously against the style of which reb brick university Eagleton would have approved. His work is deliberate rejection of post war marxism - just look at the cast of characters and the settings in the quartet and the quintet - as for the languid,philosphic idle of Prosperos Cell, the likes of Eaglton must have choked on this when they read it! This is probably why I like it so much. The Count D is my hero.
> 
 I would like to propose a toast in the finest wine known to humanity to overprivileged aetheticism, long may it continue to grace the world as a civilised and restraining influence on Wildean model or the model of Norman Douglas.
> 
> As for being working class, as a former premier of New South Wales said; "the best thing about being working class is the chance to get out of it!" as I am sure Finney and possibly Eagleton have. And as for trying to put Larry down for avoiding World War Two - sure, why not. War is a capitalist Imperialist plot anyway. Eagleton should have approved.
> 
> 
> David Green
> 16 William Street
> Marrickville NSW  2204
> +61 2 9564 6165
> 0412 707 625
> dtart at bigpond.net.au
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