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Picture of Art, Politics and Society in Britain (1880-1914)

Art, Politics and Society in Britain (1880-1914)

Aspects of Modernity and Modernism

Editor(s): Trevor Harris
Contributors: Stephanie Prevost, Arnand Page, Stephanie Prevost, Arnand Page, Constance Bantman, David Cottington, Iasbelle Cases,

Book Description

The oldest word in politics is “new”. The oldest word in the writing of history may well be “modern”: it is, without doubt, one of the most overworked adjectives in the English language. But the indeterminacy is perhaps just another way of saying that the difficulties raised are of a kind which simply will not go away… This collection of eight essays on aspects of modernity and modernism takes up the challenge of examining the complex, but fascinating convergence of aesthetics, politics and a quasi-spiritual dimension which is perhaps typical of British modernist thinking about modernity. This may have produced figures whom we now dismiss as eccentrics or “aesthetes”, it none the less produced figures whom many still think of as in some sense embodying the national identity: what, after all, could be more “English” than a William Morris wallpaper design? Rather than towards socialism in any of its “scientific” guises, what the British modernist approach to modernity may have been pushing at was yet another mutation of liberalism: a libertarian-humanitarian hybrid in which indigenous radical and Evangelical legacies keep scientific socialism in check, where fellowship and domesticity edge out a larger-scale, more abstract “fraternity”, and where citoyenneté or civisme give way to what George Orwell was later to define simply as “decency”.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-1364-8
ISBN-10: 1-4438-1364-8
Date of Publication: 01/11/2009
Pages / Size: 155 / A5
Price: £34.99


Trevor Harris is Professor of British Civilisation in the Department of English Studies at the Université François-Rabelais, Tours, France. He has worked extensively on the intellectual history of Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and on British foreign policy. His most recent book is Une Certaine idée de l’Angleterre in the collection “L’Histoire au présent” (Paris: Armand Colin, 2006).