British Social Realism in the Arts since 1940

British Social Realism in the Arts since 1940

David Tucker

Language: English

Pages: 235


Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Social realism has been a vital element of British culture over the past seventy years, yet it has not gained anywhere near the critical attention its impact warrants. It can be a highly responsive genre, one that confronts its contemporaneous social, economic and political contexts with visceral immediacy, while at the same time retaining a focus on the individual, the domestic and the private. This fascinating analysis of the intertwined histories and legacies of British social realism across disciplines reveals
how important the changing genre has been for creative works since the Second World War, and how it resonates within contemporary contexts. With original contributions from leading scholars, this collection provides chapters on film, theatre, fiction, visual art, poetry and television, that show how social realism speaks to our own times as well as of the past.

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tragic disorder of contemporary capitalism is often tenacious, and one important way in which we can further approach this encounter is via questions of ethics. Ethics and social realism This is a turn that is reflected in Eagleton’s work too. The metaphysical, religious terms in which Eagleton chooses to explore the ethical does not represent a turning away from the political. Indeed Eagleton insists on their continuity (see Eagleton 2009b, pp. 299–300). Again, this has relevance to the current

discussions of the tragic form. In his recent work the tragic form is important because it enables a mediated encounter with aspects of our species-being. One of Eagleton’s most effective evocations of this human essence is through his discussion of the doubleness of the body and his deconstruction of the opposition between culturalism and naturalism. The body is both culturally constructed, its range and experiences historically changing, and at the same time it is marked by certain

the personal and the social, the ethical and the political. It is designed as a fundamental challenge to both the cynicism of neoliberal capitalist realism and a certain ethical idealism that also opposes the status quo. For the cynic the social is a sentimental fantasy projected onto the brute reality of some Hobbesian base. This is an aspect then of the demonic, destructive evil of the culture of neoliberalism – its persistent negation of the social as unreal, a sham. For the ascetic idealists

confrontation seems eccentric, a bizarre sideshow to the main business of the novel, but is in fact at the centre of its preoccupation with historical indirection. By contrast, the major part of the factory 94 British Social Realism in the Arts since 1940 worker’s experience involves an evasion of the present and its material circumstances, precisely as a means of escaping from the complexity of relations between past and future: Time flew while you wore out the oil-soaked floor and worked

This street then remains particular, ‘this’ one, and what it is by being ‘this’ is a street ‘to walk the length//of’: it is a particular street because there is a particular use for it. Not until the last line of the poem do we learn that it is ‘nora’ who walks the length of this particular street, that it is there so that she may do that; but rereading the poem it seems necessary to put her back into it from the start, to make that impersonal because infinitive verb ‘to walk’ as much as possible

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