By Jed Esty

This e-book describes an enormous literary tradition stuck within the act of turning into minor. In 1939, Virginia Woolf wrote in her diary, ''Civilisation has shrunk.'' Her phrases captured not just the onset of worldwide battle II, but in addition a longer-term reversal of nationwide fortune. the 1st entire account of modernism and imperialism in England, A Shrinking Island tracks the joint eclipse of modernist aesthetics and British strength from the literary experiments of the Thirties during the upward push of cultural reviews within the 1950s.

Jed Esty explores the consequences of declining empire on modernist form--and at the very which means of Englishness. He levels from canonical figures (T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf) to influential midcentury intellectuals (J. M. Keynes and J.R.R. Tolkien), from cultural reviews pioneers (Raymond Williams and E. P. Thompson) to postwar migrant writers (George Lamming and Doris Lessing). targeting writing that converts the aptitude strength of the contracting British country into the language of insular integrity, he argues that an anthropological ethos of cultural holism got here domestic to roost in late-imperial England. Esty's interpretation demanding situations well known myths concerning the dying of English literature. It portrays the survivors of the modernist new release no longer as aesthetic dinosaurs, yet as members within the transition from empire to welfare kingdom, from metropolitan paintings to nationwide tradition. blending literary feedback with postcolonial conception, his account of London modernism's end-stages and after-lives presents a clean tackle significant works whereas redrawing the strains among modernism and postmodernism.

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Additional resources for A Shrinking Island: Modernism and National Culture in England

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This second view deemphasizes modernism’s sporadic rhetorical or critical engagements with the question of empire in favor of a set of hypotheses about imperialism’s indirect impact on modernist form. As I have suggested, both Fredric Jameson’s account of Forster’s stylistic infinities and Raymond Williams’s concept of “metropolitan perception” represent key formulations of this second premise, in which epistemological privilege in the metropolis enables certain characteristic forms of modernist thought and expression.

Chapter 4 juxtaposes the “home anthropology” of English cultural studies to the “reverse ethnography” of colonial writers like Doris Lessing, Sam Selvon, and George Lamming, arguing that both projects aim to objectify Englishness, to consolidate and identify its sources of integrity and rediscover its local color. Both projects redress an Arnoldian legacy in which England plays the role of secular modern center—a blank metaculture tethered by British power to an array of colorful subordinate cultural nationalisms.

A. Hobson’s Imperialism (1902). Hobson, like Forster, wrote in the aftermath of the Berlin Conference (1884) and the Boer War (1899–1902)—two events that defined the vast scope of European imperialism in theory and revealed its strategic shakiness as a practice. Hobson roundly criticized the Great Powers for their conduct of global empire building. He called for Britain to abandon Joseph Chamberlain’s expansionist policy in favor of a more genuinely internationalist federation. Hobson’s Imperialism has become a wellknown text in the history of British colonial and anticolonial cultural debate, in part because Hobson—chiefly an economist—describes imperialism’s bad spiritual and aesthetic consequences.

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