Romantic Moderns (E–pub Download) × Alexandra Harris

Romantic Moderns

review ½ eBook, PDF or Kindle ePUB Ð Alexandra Harris

Across in a very easy to read style I have to admit that I m rather jealous of Alexandra Harris Not many PhD theses are this readable mine certainly isn t Broadly covering British culture between the wars a great over simplification her study is fantastically wide ranging Not only does she bridge the literary and visual arts with apparent ease but she manages to take in music cookery and gardening as well Despite this range it s remarkably focused That s in part of because of what it does leave out This is not A Book About Mass book about mass Its focus is very much on the taste and works of a small group of intellectuals *but these are intellectuals who profoundly impacted British culture broadlyIt s *these are intellectuals who profoundly impacted British culture broadlyIt s something of a masterpiece An engaging book about the attempts in British art and culture during the 1930s and 1940s to reconcile the formal experimentation of modernism with the traditions of British life Harris takes the reader on a journey through art John Piper features prominently as do critics like Roger Fry and Cyril Connolly and the Shell Mex adverts of the mid century literature Elizabeth Bowen Virginia Woolf T S Eliot Evelyn Waugh John Betjeman W H Auden food writing horticulture architecture and In each case she investigates the ways that thinkers tried to tap into strains of a specifically British traditions the village green the rolling hills the hedgerows the parish church the cloudy weather the country piles the gardens and bring them together with the abstract geometric progressive world of modernismThere s a tremendous amount of food for thought here The book is very much aimed at the general reader who will come away from this book with a renewed appreciation for the intellectual journey of a John Betjeman or an Osbert Sitwell But lurking in the background here throughout never ite mentioned openly is of course class Certainly many of these thinkers and their attempts to carve out a British modernism seem to revolve entirely around large country mansions landscaped gardens and other facets of a specific type of English life navailable to the majority Indeed cities and the working class people who live in them barely feature at all in Romantic Moderns which I think is a shame The 1930s and early 1940s were a critical period in the formation of British culture The Second World War was to mark a decisive turning point one that created a self image for many Britons that though now nder pressure from the dominance of a multi cultural globalist London imbued them with a sense of their own difference from Europe based on a nostalgia for aristocracy country and rural communityAlexandra Harris solid contribution to cultural history provides a welcome summary of that process the conservative side the creation of a modernising neo romanticism epitomised by artists and illustrators such as John Piper Edward Bawden Eric Ravilious Ivon Hitchens a modernising neo romanticism epitomised by artists and illustrators such as John Piper Edward Bawden Eric Ravilious Ivon Hitchens Rex Whistler but also by many writers and intellectuals photographers eccentrics garden designers architects and othersShe argues persuasively that the middle class English mind she does not argue in class terms and that she does not place her narrative within a wider historical context is a weakness adopted the intrusive modernist European culture in the early interwar period only to adapt it in the 1930s to a conservative traditionalist and earth bound and ruralist subject matterShe writes well although she falls into the classic trap of being so determined to do justice to specific works and writers that interesting little gobbets of data about key figures overwhelm any sense of a grand narrative Sometimes one wonders whether she has actually demonstrated her thesis rather than suggested that she might be able to demonstrate it when she has stopped entertaining The Rogues Omega The Rogue Pack usEach chapter is like an essay but the accumulation of essays does notite present the persuasive Nt and in England They showed that “the modern”need not be at war with the past constructivists and conservatives could work together and even the Bauhaus émigré László Moholy Nagy was beguiled into taking photos for Betjeman’s nostalgic An Oxford University ChestA rich network of personal and cultural encounters was the backdrop for a modern English renaissance This great imagina. There is much in this book that I admired but it also felt like a romp through 30s and 40s Britain At times it seemed to be a modernist stream of consciousness Fascinating account of the reaction of English artists and authors to modernism and how it influenced them even when they appeared to reject it From John Piper to Virginia Woolf to John Betjeman to Osbert Sitwell the author traces links and themes common to all of them in the 1930s and 40s This book really acts like a survey of all aspects of English cultural life from art to architecture to gardening and cookery during the interwar years Beautifully illustrated and an interesting Read In Romantic Moderns Alexandra In Romantic Moderns Alexandra takes a new approach to Modernism in art and literature as it manifested itself in England The movement here was not the one of clean lines white space and daring experiments in novels drama and poetry that we tend to think of in its continental guise Those trends were all present in England but fertilised by attachments to the past native landscapes architecture and flora and to the Church of England the results were somewhat different A softer romantic modernism developed Harris s scope is wide and her writing engaging and she makes a strong case for her thesis Virginia Woolf and John Piper are the anchors to which her case is most strongly attached but she takes in a very wide range of artists writers architects photographers with fascinating diversions into cookery and garden design The book itself is a beautiful object printed on fine cream paper bound so that it stays open at any point and fulsomely illustrated I can t join in the applause this book has been receiving I think the argument of the book isn t very well made and I suppose I have a slight aversion to the Little Englandism the artists musicians architects and writers covered in the book embody This is supposed to be a revisionist cultural history of the 30 s and 40 s arguing that England was not in fact the backward Modernism hating country people say it was and that our thinkers and creatives produced a native somewhat conservative version of Modernism that is as valid as what was coming out of France or Spain or Germany I don t think Harris argument is very revisionist I don t think anyone is arguing that English creatives didn t adopt some of the features of Modernism but we produced very few full blooded Modernists the features of Modernism but we produced very few full blooded Modernists than a few examples such as Virginia Woolf compared to other major European countries I think this is demonstrated by how few of the creatives and artists who were around at this time had any influence or impact beyond our shores The world wasn t paying attention to Betjamin the way they were to Rilke or Lorca and they weren t blown away by the paintings or John Piper as they were by Picasso or Kandinsky I also HATE THE INSISTANCE OF SEVERAL OF THE FIGURES COVERED the insistance of several of the figures covered this but and endorsed by Harris that Englishness is this cosy rustic thing redolent of villiage greens and Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture:: An Anthology of Architectural Theory 1965 - 1995 uaint churches and elevenses It ignores the violent strident dynamic Englishness of the civil war or the industrial revolution or the largest empire the world has ever seen Further reading this has convinced me that I should never read Brideshead Revisited I love Vile Bodies and Scoop but it sounds like Waugh really lost it later A very enjoyable journey into the Modernist movement in Britain during the 1930s and 1940s with well developed themes and exploration of the artists and writers who defined it Very well written and presented with niceality illustrations I ve been meaning to read this book for years It s a period of history and cast of characters I m Children of the Sun A History of Humanity's Unappeasable Appetite for Energy uite interesting inAlexandra Harris writes about the particular strain of English modernism not gleaming as you might see it on the continent but harking back to earlier times It covers a wide gamut of topics all of it put. In the 1930s and 1940s while the battles for modern art and modern society were being fought in Paris and Spain it seemed to some a betrayal that John Betjeman and John Piper were in love with a provincial world of old churches and tea shopsAlexandra Harris tells a different story eclectically passionatelywittilyrgently English artists were exploring what it meant to be alive at that mome. ,
Rgument that it should especially as there is an almost wilful neglect of the eually or dominant trends that drove the progressive middle class and the popular culture of the working class Not that she should have discussed these other trends in any depth which was not her mission but only that it might have been Game Theory Katerina Carter Fraud useful if we had been given a better idea in passing of what was competing for the attention of the publicBy way of a small example we may take the short reference to a film of significance Powell and Pressburger s A Canterbury Tale This is a wartime propaganda piece of 1944 which can easily be found on YouTube and is a minor masterpiece of the neo romantic sensibility Her account of it is excellent and insightful but short and because the nuances are not covered from lack of space and of interest in the sociology of culturenintentionally potentially misleading The film is propaganda precisely because by 1944 the conservative middle classes in the country had been relatively neglected in terms of mass mobilisation Although the rban characters are definitely ruralised into some conservative values partly to appeal to the evidently targeted mid Western American audience that also needed to persuaded of the value of coming sacrifices the bottom line is still a needed to be persuaded of the of coming sacrifices the bottom line is still
a like colonel 
like Colonel s the world has changed and you have to change tooThe country suire who pours glue into girls hair is let off the hook because he is a decent conservative cove but he is left alone at the end ignored even as a petty criminal of sorts So much Harris gets but the message that there is in fact no room for pure traditionalism is I believe much strongly expressed than is implied This is not about traditionalists sing modern methods in support of traditional values but something ite different a respect for the junior role of traditional values and skills within an essentially modernist ideology of victory planning and reconstruction This is closer by an edge to Soviet support for Uzbek folk dancing than it is to the values of most of the writers and artists outlined in the book Artists also have to eat so we have Shell s important patronage of the neo romantics to consider and the neo romantic aspects of the Festival of Britain in much the same terms the appropriation of traditionalist memes and images for essentially modernist purposes reversing at this point the originating thesis of Harris book which is the appropriation of modernist ideas and techniues to reinvigorate traditional arts where she is absolutely right in her analysisInterestingly the film did not do particularly well critically at the time It is instructive that lauded though they are today neo romantic ideas did not really reach into popular or even elite culture ntil after the war and sponsorship by very modern institutions such as advertising agencies and government information operations far fr I had had my eye on Alexandra Harris Romantic Moderns for tre soi dans l'instant prsent uite a while before picking itp both as a generally interesting piece of writing and an aid to my PhD thesis Physically it is a gorgeous tome with heavy cream paper and lavish colour illustrations throughout In her book Harris discusses the modern English renaissance which occurred during the 1930s and 1940s in ite staggering detail She npicks the period looking at art architecture the nature of possessions literature and reclaiming heritage amongst others Whilst a lot of the art did not personally appeal to me I found the wording and things which Harris touched pon fascinating on the whole I particularly enjoyed the chapters on the modernisation of cookery and weather I am also fascinated by the English village and found the chapter which deals with its preservation far reaching and insightful Harris writes wonderfully her style is at times academic but feels readily accessible to a wider audience. Tive project was shared by writers painters gardeners architects critics and composers Piper abandoned purist abstracts to make collages on the blustery coast; Virginia Woolf wrote in her last novel about a village pageant on a showery summer day Evelyn Waugh Elizabeth Bowenand the Sitwells are also part of the story along with Bill Brandt and Graham Sutherland Eric Ravilious and Cecil Beat. ,