Perry Anderson

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I was also left unsatisfied by the second part of the essay, I feel like quite a bit was left unresolved. That said, it does make me want to read Powell (as well as The Dream of the Red Chamber and Malcolm Bowie on Proust), so there is that.

Federico Boswarlos, Friday, 24 August 2018 18:09 (one year ago) link

Good to be reminded of n+1. I should read more of it. Like this excellent reply from Wood:

the pinefox, Friday, 24 August 2018 18:27 (one year ago) link

Wouldn't we need to know more about how other countries, et al, handle it before we could say England was distinctive?

Or: Flaubert is in some ways reactionary. He's revered in France (by liberals and leftists, by Barthes, et al). So such traditions perhaps have their own versions of this?

the pinefox, Friday, 24 August 2018 18:29 (one year ago) link

In Germany, one or two of the big modern names have been on the left - Brecht, Grass, Wolf? - which does present a different scenario.

the pinefox, Friday, 24 August 2018 18:30 (one year ago) link

Yes, that's true but I always was under the impression in these other countries/literary traditions that they were more of an exceptional character?

I'll admit, I haven't fully thought this through at length, but I have had trouble coming up with other analogous examples where capital R reactionary authors are still held in the same esteem from other countries (there's Flaubert, Celine in France; Heidegger in the Continental Philosophy tradition). I definitely acknowledge more familiarity with Anglo-American literature than others, but still...! That said, I may be totally missing some obvious examples.

Federico Boswarlos, Friday, 24 August 2018 18:50 (one year ago) link

I would have thought that in France for instance, it could be shown that half the canon was conservative or reactionary in some way. It's an old canard that Marx loved Balzac 'despite' his royalism.

The difference you're pointing to, I think, is not about the historic canon but a more recent field - say, post-WWII. That would be a clearer, because more limited point of comparison.

Then there's also a difference between 'fascist modernism' and 'conservative English', ie / eg: between Pound and Larkin - very different sets of reactions and audiences involved.

the pinefox, Saturday, 25 August 2018 17:25 (one year ago) link

I had assumed it was perhaps in large part due to "high Tory" culture and its reproduction in the cultural institutions/universities in the UK?

I would say that that hasn't been reproduced much in universities (and to an extent elsewhere in the UK) since, say, the 1980s -- English Studies is very much a post-New-Left formation in which the default is liberal or left. In fact in a way, people like Larkin and Powell are *not* that respected in universities, and PA may be writing against that to a degree.

Whether other nations have remained more conservative, or been similar, etc, I don't know - but there have been very conservative (critical) traditions in France / Germany. My understanding is that Barthes and Derrida for instance were writing against much more rigid formations than existed in the UK, which partly explains why they didn't entirely fit our frameworks.

the pinefox, Saturday, 25 August 2018 17:29 (one year ago) link

Yes, those are totally fair points and I prob should have made a distinction b/w fascist and conservative reactionaries which, together with their audiences, are very different from one another.

Also, yes it doesn't seem to be something that has continued among younger generations - at least, I think most younger(ish) conservative/reactionary writers in the English speaking world seem to be, to use an Andersonism, "of little moment." Perhaps in the UK itself, this is in part due to or reflects the waning influence of high Tory culture over the course of the second half of the 20th century? I'll admit to being a bit out of my depth here - not being English and observing from abroad - so should probably stop making these somewhat sweeping generalizing speculations :)

Federico Boswarlos, Saturday, 25 August 2018 19:39 (one year ago) link

Where are you now Federico?

I agree about the waning of high Con culture. In a way this connects to the cultural change often described by old-time ilx poster Robin Carmody.

the pinefox, Sunday, 26 August 2018 07:10 (one year ago) link

Australia's most respected poet, Les Murray, is a tedious reactionary in his politics. (My contribution from a tiny country nobody cares about)

Mince Pramthwart (James Morrison), Sunday, 26 August 2018 23:50 (one year ago) link

I'm in Toronto where - curious if this is also the case in Australia - we've inherited some legacy of high Con culture too (though not nearly as strong).

To go back to PA's essay, I'm surprised they didn't inspire a larger response in the Letters pages. The journalist/critic Jeet Heer managed to have a successful Twitter poll on it, though.

Anthony Powell is:

— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) August 17, 2018

Federico Boswarlos, Monday, 27 August 2018 15:09 (one year ago) link

I know the poll is presumably a light-hearted jape, but its two options are not really alternatives.

Is Anthony Powell:

a) inferior to Samuel Beckett,
b) superior to Doris Lessing?

Think carefully before you answer.

the pinefox, Tuesday, 28 August 2018 11:05 (one year ago) link

do i have to read any of their books tho

mark s, Tuesday, 28 August 2018 11:09 (one year ago) link

re letters: Yes, just one response so far in the LRB? Which made an OK point about retrospective insight into a body of work but was itself ultimately unconvincing. I mean this is literally laughable:

"Without the relation to Balzac, Proust’s project is both unintelligible and, to some extent, pointless."

We might as well all write in, one per issue, saying things like:

"We have forgotten Flaubert. He remains, of course, the master - and Proust's"

"Well and good. But the true wellspring of the Proustian ethos is, of course, Stendhal"

"That Proust is fundamentally unreadable without an expert knowledge of the Goncourts used to be well understood. No longer, to judge from the recent pages of the London Review"

the pinefox, Tuesday, 28 August 2018 11:11 (one year ago) link

this entire exercise is perry dodging the 91 balzac novels he knows he ought to have read (bcz marx) but hasn't

mark s, Tuesday, 28 August 2018 11:16 (one year ago) link

two weeks pass...

My game plan: read a million words of Powell, a million words of Proust, then some biographies & criticism. Eventually compose 8 or 9 tweets refuting Perry Anderson's views of both. Never say I don't work for you people.

— Jeet Heer (@HeerJeet) September 15, 2018

mark s, Saturday, 15 September 2018 22:37 (one year ago) link

jeet go on ilx

mark s, Saturday, 15 September 2018 22:37 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

ugh jeet he did a series on tweets on how Powell/that generation of writers had a 'thing' for Thatcher.

I revive with this New Yorker write-up on Spurling's biog, which made me think that oh of course Anderson doesn't even make an attempt at reviewing it.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 29 November 2018 22:29 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

The teratology of the contemporary political imagination – plentiful enough: Trump, Le Pen, Salvini, Orbán, Kaczyński, ogres galore – has acquired a new monster.

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 31 January 2019 00:05 (one year ago) link

Guess who's back?

xyzzzz__, Thursday, 31 January 2019 00:05 (one year ago) link

actually didn't know about the meaning of this word at all.

the pinefox, Thursday, 31 January 2019 10:39 (one year ago) link

Thanks for pulling that out PF. I can see how he comes off as pompous with his wider vocabulary, but in this instance it does the job.

xyzzzz__, Saturday, 2 February 2019 18:10 (one year ago) link

Finished this tonight. It's not my idea of a very good PA essay.

The Lula material is partly reheated, simply in that he's written at length on Lula before (but not about his trial, successors, etc). He comes out as quite partisan for Lula's PT / workers' party - that's one of the things that most interests me about the essay. PA still has an ability to be very impressed by certain people, like the analyst he compares to Marx, and Lula himself.

But then the treatment of Bolsonaro: we get the standard PA problem that he hates 'bien pensants' more than anyone else, and is more keen to take swipes at them than to make any serious criticism of the political Right - in this case, by the sound of it, far Right. This particular strain of contrarianism is tired. The things that Bolsonaro has said and done, as I understand it so far, are worrying and dangerous towards several groups of people. PA makes light of most of this.

the pinefox, Friday, 8 February 2019 00:00 (one year ago) link

two months pass...

smh at everyone not knowing what teratology means, do you not read stephen jay gould ppl, everyone familiar* with the paling corpses of birth-dead monsters in 19th century pickle jars knows this word

*i mean like from books shut up

mark s, Wednesday, 17 April 2019 11:04 (ten months ago) link

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