Culture and Society: 1780-1950
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Acknowledged as perhaps the masterpiece of materialist criticism in the English language, this omnibus ranges over British literary history from George Eliot to George Orwell to inquire about the complex ways economic reality shapes the imagination.
The problem, as it presented between the new moral itself to Owen, was one of social engineering: the phrase gives exactly the right stress. His basic principle he expresses in this way: Any general character, from the best to the worst, from he most ignorant to the most enlightened, may be at large, by given to any community, even to the world means are to a application of proper means; which titxe CULTURE AND SOCIETY 1780-1950 30 great extent at the command and under the control
Liberalism. in the early part of the Reflections, but is a very good horse to ride, but to ride think that you have only to get somewhere. You and to ride on the back of your horse Freedom away as hard as you can, to be sure of coming to the what right destination. If your newspapers can say Freedom . . . . . . . . . wellthey like, you think you are sure of being informed. 20 CULTXJBE AND SOCIETY 128 The text is still apt, and unanswerable. Arnold was an ex cellent analyst of
word. Frederic Harrison refers to 'this same . . . sauerkraut or culture'* 8 in the course of arguing that Arnold makes 'cul ture* mean whatever suits himself. Now, the challenge of the valuations concentrated in the idea of culture was to provoke hostility from defenders of the existing system. With such hostility, one wants no kind of truce. Yet this essential conflict has been blurred by adventitious ef bound Almost all the words standing for learning, seriousness and reverence have
Beauty. 5 Here, indeed, is the basis of his whole work. In his criticism of art, his standard was always this Typical Beauty*, the absolute evidence, in works of art, of the 'universal grand design*. In his social criticism, his concern was with the and with the conditions of the 'joyful and right exertion of perfect life in man'. The absolute standard of perfection in works of 'felicitous fulfilment of function in living things', art; the conditions of perfection in man: these are the com-
much happiness we rob their lives of. 36 That Morris could feel like this is of considerable impor tance. He was himself a hand-craftsman, and he had a re spect born from experience for work of that kind. In his Utopian writings, the removal of machines from the proc ess of work is often emphasized. Yet the reaction 'Morrishandicrafts get rid of the machines' is as misleading as the reaction 'Ruskin Gothic mediaevalism*. The regressive ele ments are present in Morris, as they were in RusHn.