American Culture and Society since the 1930s by Christopher Brookeman

By Christopher Brookeman

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The poem by Allen Tate, though occasioned by a human tragedy, shares many of the qualities to be found in the poem by Stevens. Despite what Ransom calls 'the contagious fury of the poem', he admires the way that Tate 'conscious that he is elose to moralising' draws back from commentary by employing 'an effect of obscurity' (WB, p. 60). Ransom likens the shift away from a concern with moral content to 'strict aesthetic effects' (WB, p. 59) to the ways the Impressionist painters turned their backs on the great social and sacred themes ofEuropean art and instead concentrated on virtuoso effects of technique and heightened visual perception: 'Cezanne, painting so many times and so lovingly his foolish littIe bowl offruits' (WB, p.

A poetry ofsynthesis is replaced by one of fragmentation and alienation. As a result ofEliot's arguments, Dante and Donne became monuments of artistic excellence, the 'ideal order' that modern poets should follow. It is no coincidence that Eliot's dividing line between unification and dissociation coincides with the demise of feudalism and Roman Catholicism, and the rise of capitalism and protestantism. Eliot's ideas are basic to a whole generation of critics who celebrated the arts, and poetry in particular, as elaborate linguistic structures that were not expressions of a single unsubstantial self but were rather complex treatments of inherited traditions.

In their pre-Iapsarian state, Adam and Eve, in the main, work together in the garden. Ransom then comments that 'it was only when they had separated in the process of specialization that the blandishments of Satan stood a chance to succeed'. From that fatal division of labour ensued the forbidden act of eating the apple of 34 AMERICAN Cl'LTl'RE AND SOCIETY SINCE THE 1930s knowledge which for Ransom represents 'the adoption of a secular attitude; in having unlimited faith in the powers ofhuman science; in regarding nature not romantically but possessively, and as an enemy' (GWT, p.

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