Committed Styles: Modernism, Politics, and Left-Wing Literature in the 1930s (Oxford English Monographs)

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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 key left-wing authors including William Empson, David Gascoyne, Charles Madge, Humphrey Jennings, and Edward Upward. Building on substantial new archival research, Benjamin Kohlmann explores the deeptensions 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 of modernism, 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 tonalambiguities which run through the politicised literature of the 1930s thus effect not a disengagement 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 toinform current debates about the relationship between literature and political commitment.
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ISBN-13: 9780198715467
ISBN-10: 0198715463
Pagini: 234
Ilustrații: 4 black-and-white halftones
Dimensiuni: 145 x 223 x 18 mm
Greutate: 0.42 kg
Editura: Oxford University Press
Colecția OUP Oxford
Seria Oxford English Monographs

Locul publicării: Oxford, United Kingdom


This highly original study challenges widely held assumptions about 1930s writing ... Benjamin Kohlmann brings knowledge and insight to this seemingly inexhaustible subject in a scrupulously researched and richly rewarding study of a period that seems both remote and ominously closer.
The account of the way in which writers turned to politics is one of the book's finest achievements ... The book opens up debate about 1930s political writing by showing that the decade's battle-lines were less clear than has been supposed. In this the book is highly successful: its readings are astute, its arguments elegant.
Kohlmann's study traces in fascinating detail the extent, complexity and significance of Richards's ideas for a group of writers, who contributed to an enormous amount of contemporary debate about literature and politics ... The project of Kohlmann's book is an important and thoroughly realised one ... [There are] illuminating analyses of individual creative works always with a careful sense of the influence of unfolding historical events.
Kohlmann's subtle and extremely informative study of the literature of the 1930s addresses the uses to which literature was put ... This study is invaluable for scholars of 1930s literature interested in the relationship between literary production, critical reflection and political activism.
Each richly historicised chapter of Kohlmann's book has something fresh and interesting to say about the literary and cultural climate of the interwar period. This is an original, subtle, and very stylish contribution to the study not only of British literature in the 1930s, but of the history of English criticism too.
... an important and useful book, one which I hope will contribute to the continuing attempt to break down barriers between modernism and left-wing commitment, between the twenties and thirties (and after), and perhaps even the recognition that the same problems still face writers today.
Kohlmann's prose is consistently lucid and precise ... Committed Styles challenges dominant conceptions of interwar literature. It opens the way for a more generous, diverse, and challenging view of the decade and a renewed engagement with political literature more generally. Scholarly, perceptive, and carefully argued, it deserves to be widely read.

Notă biografică

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.