The communication of culture: Kingsley Amis's criticism

Ksiazek, Agnieszka (2000) The communication of culture: Kingsley Amis's criticism. MPhil(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Kingsley Amis was a prolific writer of fiction and poetry, but alongside his literary works he wrote a considerable amount of literary criticism. The body of his non-fiction writing consists of book reviews which appeared in a wide range of periodicals: The Spectator, The New Statesman, The Observer and The Listener and two collections of essays What Became Of Jane Austin? and Other Questions and The Amis Collection. Amis, as a 'man of letters' wrote prefaces and introductions to other writers' books and edited anthologies of poetry. The subject of this dissertation is Amis's politics of writing, his views on the work and skills of the novelist, the poet and the critic. Chapter One is a discussion of Amis's criticism in the context of literary tradition in Britain. Starting from the 1950s and throughout his career as a writer, Amis opposed the tradition of Modernism and the regime of elitist literary Establishment which promoted 'highbrow' art. He also engaged in debates with British critics like F.R. Leavis, W.P. Ker, A.T. Quiller-Coach and William Empson. Opposing their approaches to literature and their style of writing. Amis offered his own style of criticism - colloquial, accessible and not requiring a profound knowledge of literary theories. Amis's politics of writing are to a great extent reflected in what he says about the art of the novel, and what constitutes 'good' or 'bad' examples of the genre. It is important how Amis relates to the writers who had dominated British literary scene in the time when he started writing, as well as it is interesting to investigate how he evaluates new movements in the novel after the war. Amis's reviews of poetry and the literary debates he engaged in focus on the same principle as the rest of his criticism, namely accessibility to the 'general reader'. Poets, whose aim was to communicate (Victorian writers) were, in his opinion, successful; whereas those who cultivated artistic detachment (Romantics and Modernists) remain in the interest of highbrow academics.

Item Type: Thesis (MPhil(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Additional Information: Adviser: David Pascoe
Keywords: British & Irish literature
Date of Award: 2000
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2000-73270
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 14 Jun 2019 08:56
Last Modified: 14 Jun 2019 08:56
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/73270

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