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

Denise Tart & David Green dtart at bigpond.net.au
Sun Sep 27 14:04:00 PDT 2009


Sumantra wrote:

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. 

Thanks Sumantra. I guess even Oxford and Cambridge dons can have deep Marxist tendencies - one thinks of Burgess, Philby and McClean who, although not dons, certainly attended those august institutions and became in effect class traitors. Being  Marxist and aspiring to redbrickness was very fashionable in the post war period say 1945 - 1989 when the destruction of a certain piece of masonry somewhat changed people's views.

I had seen and enjoyed your postings, as shown below, before and enjoyed them. The aesthetic style (if there is one) appears very much out of favour still. I can think of two Australian writers who have managed an aesthetic style in fairly recent times: Patrick White and, currently, Robert Dessaix whose Night Letters is well worth a read.

We are more in love with the likes of Tim Winton whose titles like Dirt Music and Breath suggest an earthy contact with urban and rural realities, as the author sees them OR

In the words of the Poet from the film Reuben Reuben "whose novels depict such contemporary Phenomena as slum clearance!"

or the suburban parochialism of Cloudstreet. Not that I have anything against Tim Winton. His books are highly evocative but they are not in the same genre as the Avignon Quintet


David Green
16 William Street
Marrickville NSW  2204
+61 2 9564 6165
0412 707 625
dtart at bigpond.net.au
www.denisetart.com.au

  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: Sumantra Nag 
  To: ilds at lists.uvic.ca 
  Sent: Sunday, September 27, 2009 8:35 PM
  Subject: Re: [ilds] ILDS Digest, Vol 30,Issue 8_ overprivileged aestheticism (Denise Tart & David Green)


  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.."


  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:
  ----------------------------------------------
  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..."
  --------------------------------
  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)
   ----------------------------------------------------------------------

  > 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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