Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper
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Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper

In the 1930s and 1940s, while the battles for modern art and modern society were being fought in Paris and Spain, it seemed to some a betrayal that John Betjeman and John Piper were in love with a provincial world of old churches and tea shops.

Alexandra Harris tells a different story: eclectically, passionately,
wittily, urgently, English artists were exploring what it meant to be alive at that moment and in England. They showed that “the modern”
need not be at war with the past: constructivists and conservatives could work together, and even the Bauhaus émigré László Moholy-Nagy was beguiled into taking photos for Betjeman’s nostalgic An Oxford University Chest.

A rich network of personal and cultural encounters was the backdrop for a modern English renaissance. This great imaginative project was shared by writers, painters, gardeners, architects, critics, and composers. Piper abandoned purist abstracts to make collages on the blustery coast; Virginia Woolf wrote in her last novel about a village pageant on a showery summer day. Evelyn Waugh, Elizabeth Bowen,
and the Sitwells are also part of the story, along with Bill Brandt and Graham Sutherland, Eric Ravilious and Cecil Beaton.

Title:Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:320 pages

    Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper Reviews

  • Tim Pendry
    Aug 10, 2013

    The 1930s and early 1940s were a critical period in the formation of British culture. The Second World War was to mark a decisive turning point, one that created a self-image for many Britons that, th...

  • Darran Mclaughlin
    Jul 27, 2011

    I can't join in the applause this book has been receiving. I think the argument of the book isn't very well made, and I suppose I have a slight aversion to the Little Englandism the artists, musicians...

  • Ade
    Oct 07, 2016

    Excellent and well-researched work covering a lot of ground and drawing many interesting connections. The opening and closing paragraphs (respectively, John Piper's ecstatic encounter with the font at...

  • Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)
    May 19, 2012

    I really enjoyed this, although it begins to feel a little padded and directionless towards the end. Alexandra Harris excels at substantiating her broad general statements about visual and literary cu...

  • Sophie
    Feb 23, 2011

    This is the sort of book that makes me feel inadequate. Just 30 years old and Alexandra Harris has managed to pull off a book that is immensely readable and enjoyable, yet serious and academic at the ...

  • Diana
    Feb 16, 2014

    Not sure I can give an unbiased review of this book as I was closely involved with the book from a publishing perspective. Let's just say I think Alex Harris is an incredibly talented writer, who make...

  • The Book : An Online Review at The New Republic
    Aug 22, 2011

    Can the masterworks of T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf be discussed in the same pages as the perfectly delightful but infinitely less significant work of the photographer Cecil Beaton and the graphic a...

    Jul 03, 2014

    This was really an interesting essay, which offers a vision of the years ranging from 1939 to 1940 through the figures of various artists, from writers to painters through architects and their works, ...

  • Steven Pilling
    Apr 11, 2013

    hmm this book looks way more interesting than it is. Harris has an ability to write and has interesting things to say but and i appreciate that this is possibly just me it isnt interesting to me.The s...

  • Delphine
    Jun 03, 2016

    Interesting account of the modernist wave in England during the 1930s and its clashes and embraces with English romantic conservatism. Alexandra Harris doesn't stop at architecture, literature or pain...