Committed Styles: Modernism, Politics, and Left-Wing Literature in the 1930s

Hardcover | September 14, 2014

byBenjamin Kohlmann

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Committed Styles offers a new understanding of the politicized literature of the 1930s and its relationship to modernism. It reclaims a central body of literary and critical works for modernist studies, offering in-depth readings of texts by T.S. Eliot and I.A. Richards, as well as by keyleft-wing authors including William Empson, David Gascoyne, Charles Madge, Humphrey Jennings, and Edward Upward. Building on substantial new archival research, Benjamin Kohlmann explores the deep tensions between modernist experimentation and political vision that lie at the heart of these works.Taking as its focus the work of these writers, the book argues that the close interactions between literary production, critical reflection, and political activism in the decade shaped the influential view of modernism as fundamentally apolitical. Intervening in debates about the long life ofmodernism, it contends that we need to take seriously the anti-modernist impulse of 1930s left-wing literature even when attention is paid to the formal complexity of these "committed" works. The tonal ambiguities which run through the politicised literature of the 1930s thus effect not adisengagement from but a more thorough immersion in the profoundly conflicted political commitments of the decade. At the same time, the study shows that debates about the politics of writing in the 1930s continue to inform current debates about the relationship between literature and politicalcommitment.

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Committed Styles offers a new understanding of the politicized literature of the 1930s and its relationship to modernism. It reclaims a central body of literary and critical works for modernist studies, offering in-depth readings of texts by T.S. Eliot and I.A. Richards, as well as by keyleft-wing authors including William Empson, Davi...

Benjamin Kohlmann is Assistant Professor of English at Freiburg University, Germany, having previously held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. His most recent articles have been published in ELH, PMLA, Modernism/Modernity, and Textual Practice.

other books by Benjamin Kohlmann

Format:HardcoverDimensions:228 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.98 inPublished:September 14, 2014Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198715463

ISBN - 13:9780198715467

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Table of Contents

Introduction1. 'Responsible Propagandists': I. A. Richards, T. S. Eliot, and Cambridge Experiment2. An Honest Decade: William Empson and the Uses of Poetry3. Between Communism and 'Purity' of Style: The Revolutions of English Surrealism4. Social Facts and Poetic Authority: The Political Aesthetic of Mass-Observation5. Bad Dreams: Edward Upward and Marxist ProphecyCodaBibliography