By Kieran Curran (auth.)
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Extra info for Cynicism in British Post-War Culture: Ignorance, Dust and Disease
Wilde 291) 48 Cynicism in British Post-War Culture Marriage would be abolished, which could be advantageous to the fractious couplings of Anger and The Entertainer. Individual agency is more important than a centralised and governed system; the result of such governance is tyranny. Again, this is under-theorised, but this is precisely what dovetails with Jimmy’s pivotal role as the key speech-giver in the play. “The form of government that is most suitable to the artist is no government at all” (291).
Narratives such as the ﬁctional Love on the Dole by Walter Greenwood or the non-ﬁctional The Road to Wigan Pier by George Orwell underlined the plight of many ordinary British people who were neither members of the capital-owning or industrial class nor the professional, better educated, comfortable middle class. Unemployment is pathologised in Greenwood’s novel: “it got you slowly, with the slippered stealth of an unsuspected, malignant disease” (169). And key to Orwell’s narrative are the pathetically poor living conditions of ordinary working people (for instance, the coalminers, “blackened to the eyes, with their throats full of coal dust” ) and the unemployed alike.
They are also key contributors to literary-aesthetic theory, yet their half-remembered thoughts are dismissed casually as “been wrong about that”. In this social situation, high-cultural, educated concepts cannot compare to “ordinary” experience; the effect is one of elevating the common sense of Dixon, whilst deprecating the academic, uncommon sense of an Aristotle/Richards. The coalescing of seemingly highly contrasting high and low culture categories occurs slightly later, when a reminiscence about classical 44 Cynicism in British Post-War Culture education occurs to Dixon when sharing a clandestine, romantic cup of coffee with Christine: He remembered some Greek or Latin tag about not even God being able to abolish historical fact, and was glad to think that this must apply equally to the historical fact of his drinking out of Christine’s coffee cup.