British Writers and the Media, 1930–45 by Keith Williams

By Keith Williams

Richly informative a couple of host of writers from Auden to Priestley, and theoretically educated, this wide-ranging new examine demonstrates that the Thirties, remembered often for simple political engagement, can otherwise be visible as beginning the most important components of postmodernism, constructing the individual's feel of `elsewhere' via new expertise of illustration and propaganda. Keith Williams analyses the connection among the leftist writers of the last decade and the mass-media, exhibiting how newspapers, radio and picture have been handled of their writing and the way they appreciably reshaped its kinds, assumptions and imagery.

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External things over which I had no control had usurped my own deepest personallife, so that my inner world became dependent on an outer one, and if that outer one failed to provide me with its daily stimulus of crime and indignation, I often felt a kind of emptiness. And in 'To A Spanish Poet' Spender wrote, 'reading the news, my imagination breeds/The penny-dreadful fear that you are dead.! 56 Reconstructing the moment of the thirties sublime might provide some pointers and warnings for an ethical Postmodernism.

A year later Rothermere sold it, inadvertently midwifing the most successful left-of-centre paper of the time. Before long others were featuring similarly huge headlines and telegraphic sentences, shrinking text in inverse proportion to photographs and strip cartoons, breaking neat columns into the 'staggered jigsaw' layout. MacNeice caught the paradox of vicarious intimacy which the transfiguration of events into the selective discourses of the press often provided for its readers. In his view, stories coalesced into an unconscious, ceaselessly reinforced pattern, causing the subject to withdraw from the actuality with which they seemed to hold out virtually tangible contact: firstly, the newspaper heroes, sportsmen or politicians, are for them dream-figures, though they know they are real people; secondly, A Twisted Skein: The Media Background 25 the repetition with variations of their performances (Mr Ramsay MacDonald ...

However, it is a myth that the BBC always pusillanimously eschewed contentious topics in the thirties. Reith kicked strenuously against the traces, especially the ban on political, industrial and religious controversy in the BBC's Charter. 36 The evolution of BBC news exemplifies how politicians combined 28 British Writers and the Media, 1930-45 with vested interests to baulk his ambitions - a proper news department was not established until the end of 1934. 37 News was always compiled on the principle that it was far more sensational to hear of a crime or disaster in a broadcast than to read it in a newspaper, because the spoken word was somehow assumed to have a more unmediated relationship with the reality, although the BBC modelled the sobriety and structure of its format on the establishment Times.

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