Synopses & Reviews
In this landmark study, John Carey analyzes the elitest views of some of the most highly respected literary icons of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This book, as defined in his preface, "is about the response of the English literary intelligentsia to the new phenomenon of mass culture." Readers may be shocked to learn that H.G. Wells liked to think that this newly emerged "mass" would be eliminated by plague and atomic bombs; that Yeats wished them to perish in an apocalyptic war against the educated classes and that D.H. Lawrence visualized a huge lethal chamber in which they could be exterminated. John Carey's devastating attack on the intellectuals exposes the loathing which the mass of humanity ignited in many of the virtual founders of modern culture: G.B. Shaw, Ezra Pound, James Joyce, E.M. Forster, Virginia Woolf, T.S. Eliot and others. Professor Carey compares their detestation of common humanity to Nietzsche, whose philosophy helped create the atmosphere leading to the rise of Adolph Hitler. Any student of modern literature and history will find John Carey's incisive book both enlightening and disturbing, an essential read for a full understanding of where we are today.
"Witty, passionate and end-to-end readable." — The Guardian
"He denounces snobbish insularity with a gusto I hope will prove contagious in America." — New York Times Book Review
About the Author
John Carey is Merton Professor of English at Oxford University. A distinguished critic and broadcaster, he is the author of four previous books on history and literature, and the editor of The Faber Book of Science. He lives in England.