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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Arnold Bennett (and the new Blogger)

To quote Garth Algar "we fear change" I can't say that I spend a whole lot of time on Blogger but I don't really see a whole of point in change for changes sake. I guess that the worst thing for an internet entity like Google is stagnation. hey ho. The second plaque on the facade of Chiltern Court behind Baker Street tube is to Arnold Bennett (1867-1931) an author that im not over familiar with. He certainly doesnt chime with my conciousness in the same way that H.G.Wells does I guess because his tales of Edwardian life are by necessity dated in a way that Wells' nightmare tales of possible futures aren't. Its odd thinking of such recent literature being redundant - I guess its a reflection of the huge pace of change that has enveloped society over the last century in particular the post-war world. Maybe thats the definition of great literature - work that transcends the temporary circumstances of society and engages directly with the reader. I've said in the past that Dickens is my favourite author (debatable but still...) and I think that though his stories are obviously set in a victorian world they do transcend that chronology in a way that I'm not sure that many authors do. I guess for a slightly previous era Jane Austen also qualifies. Interestingly Bennett's tour of America in 1911 was greeted with the kind of acclaim not seen since Dickens' tours. Bennett's legacy is mixed having only recently being rescued from accusations of traditionalism and commercialism - again Dickens' chap book publishing were huge sellers utilising the cliffhanger device beloved of serial publishers to this day. Theres a kind of snobbery there that i dont really like - the idea that simply because something sells, because that its popular that its devalued. Art is meant to be devoured otherwise its masturbation - an act of self-absorbtion that I sometimes see in my bloggage - hmm the perils of over-thinking....

1 comment:

  1. Nobody from the Potteries would agree with you that Bennett's tales are dated. His great gift was characterisation and Potteries people appear not to have changed much in the last 100 years - his characters are still alive and well and living in Stoke! Have a look at my blog - it's better than a bat in the eye with a burnt stick.