Antidemocracy

THE POLITICS OF EARLY MODERNISM

In the previous two chapters, we have looked at the literary and philosophical backgrounds to Eliot's, Hulme's and Pound's poetry. This chapter is the first of two that focus explicitly on their political backgrounds (the other is Chapter 6). Until quite recently there were relatively few critical discussions of early modernist literature's politics: the aestheticist ancestry of early modernist verse and its lack of direct reference to contemporary events meant that it was often read as apolitical or antipolitical. Recently, however, critics have paid more attention to modernists' pre-war political beliefs and discovered that certain stylistic characteristics of their poetry were motivated by political, as well as literary and philosophical, considerations. These considerations can be broadly described as anti-democratic, though Pound's version of anti-democracy is quite different from that of Hulme and Eliot.

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