The Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice Among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939

By John Carey

A critic of the founders of contemporary tradition exhibits how early twentieth-century intellectuals imagined the ""masses"" as semihuman swarms, drugged via well known newspapers and cinema and ripe for extermination, referring to this revulsion to Nietzsche's Superman.

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Civilization additionally stunts Thorne’s physique. He has a slender chest and one shoulder greater than the opposite, and he fears that clerks aren't actual males. He envies bricklayers and navvies, and daydreams approximately becoming a member of his brother, who has emigrated to New Zealand. He imagines himself outdoor a log cabin, stripped to the blouse, tucking right into a titanic meal of bacon and beans. in the direction of the top of the unconventional the decision of the wild proves impossible to resist. Thorne makes his gigantic choice, buys tickets for brand spanking new Zealand and heads for ‘freedom, lifestyles, the open air’. He desires his young ones to have ‘a likelihood of being anything larger than typists and clerks’. 24 a dead ringer for the clerk as stunted used to be normal in highbrow portrayals. Leonard Bast has a ‘spine that will were directly’ and a ‘chest that would have broadened’ – may have, it really is defined, had his forebears stayed within the state, permitting him to turn into a shepherd or ploughboy. 25 one other substandard clerk good points in George Bernard Shaw’s Misalliance of 1910. Shaw’s irreverence and novelty attracted the clerkly readership, as Crosland famous, yet his cult of private dynamism concerned a level of contempt for dogsbodies of the clerkly variety. basically he was once a sentimental pseudo-Nietzschean who disparaged the democratic citizens (‘the promiscuously bred masses’) and common schooling, which, he estimated, may well by no means ‘raise the mass above its personal level’. He was once even in a position to announcing that ‘the majority of fellows at the moment in Europe haven't any company to be alive’ (compare Nietzsche: ‘The nice majority of fellows haven't any correct to life, yet are a misfortune to better males. ’) within the Preface to at the Rocks he rejects the doctrine of the sacredness of human lifestyles, insisting: Extermination needs to be wear a systematic foundation whether it is ever to be conducted humanely and apologetically in addition to completely … if we need a convinced kind of civilization and tradition, we needs to exterminate this kind of those that don't healthy into it. regardless of those Nietzschean noises, all Shaw really subscribed to was once woolly-headed socialist mysticism of a superbly innocuous style, in accordance with which a benevolent strength referred to as variously the ‘Life strength’ or ‘Nature’ used to be at paintings within the universe, suffering to conform a better kind of man or woman (Superman) who will be extra highbrow and not more obsessed through intercourse than the present version – in truth, remarkably like Shaw himself. It used to be the obligation of people, Shaw preached, to assist the efforts of the lifestyles strength by way of working towards eugenics, which might ‘eliminate the Yahoo’. The medical and socio-legal information of this removal, Shaw left obscure. In perform his ‘Vitalism’ amounted to not more than admiration for forceful humans and genial scorn for weaklings and screw ups. The clerk, Julius Baker, who bursts in at the filthy rich Tarletons’ country-house weekend in Misalliance belongs to either one of the final different types. His mom was once seduced years in the past through the elder Tarleton, and he has come armed with a revolver to hunt revenge.

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