American Culture and Society since the 1930s by Christopher Brookeman

By Christopher Brookeman

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The insights produced by the first stage of consciousness in wh ich contradictory impulses are set in motion, are refined and moved towards an ideal of balance, harmony, of 'equilibrium' . Richards and T. S. Eliot became the key influences on a whole generation of Anglo-American critics. To Eliot's defence oftradition, Richards added the central idea that poetry could be defended in an age of science if its special linguistic status could be established. Richards had no doubt that the complex linguistic devices, ideas and subtle emotional states that could be explored in poetry were essential to modern society: Nine-tenths, at the least, of the ideas and the annexed emotional responses that are passed on - by the cinema, the press, friends and relatives, teachers, the clergy ...

46). D. H. Lawrence's story The Shadow in the Rose earden exhibits 'the absence of any moral or social sense' (ASe, p. 37). Only Joyce has created works 'penetrated with Christian feeling' (ASe, p. 48). This parlous state of cultural affairs is the consequence of a modern social system 'worm-eaten with liberalism' (ASe, p. 13) from which 'the idea of original sin' and the 'idea ofintense moral struggle' (ASe, p. 42) have disappeared. In this climate, Eliot particularly welcomes the antiindustrial programme ofthe authors of I'll Take my Stand although he accepts that: 'It will be said that the whole current of economic determinism is against them' (ASe, p.

WB, p. 329). The 'professionals' who will carry out the new critical programme do not include the creative artist whose 'understanding is intuitive' (WB, p. 327), or the philosopher who specialises in general theories rather than 'an acute study of particulars'. The responsibility for carrying out the new programme is on the university teacher of literat ure, but not on the literary historian who spends 'a lifetime in compiling the data of literature and yet rarely or never commits himselfto a literaryjudgement' (WB, p.

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