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Americanizing BritainThe Rise of Modernism in the Age of the Entertainment Empire$
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Genevieve Abravanel

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199754458

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199754458.001.0001

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Make It Old

Make It Old

Inventing Englishness in Four Quartets

(p.131) 5 Make It Old
Americanizing Britain

Genevieve Abravanel

Oxford University Press

It is an irony of the interwar years that an American, T.S. Eliot, became the most influential tastemaker in England. More surprising than Eliot’s didactic ambitions, however, was the way that English writers and critics actually listened, taking up Eliot’s call for innovation through continuity. This chapter demonstrates that Eliot was able to produce such a compelling theory of culture because he both recognized the increasingly transatlantic character of modern England and devoted himself to repudiating America, an effort marked by his adoption of British citizenship in 1927. Exploring such works as Eliot’s Notes toward the Definition of Culture, his early Colombo and Bolo verses, and his late Four Quartets, this chapter argues that a crucial aspect of Eliot’s attempt to renew English culture arises from the intimate way in which he negotiates the threat of Americanization.T.S. Eliot

Keywords:   Englishness, transatlantic, Colombo and Bolo poems, four quartets, “tradition and the individual talent”, notes toward the definition of culture, popular, mass

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