Victoria (Eve's Alexandria)'s Reviews > Romantic Moderns: English Writers, Artists and the Imagination from Virginia Woolf to John Piper

Romantic Moderns by Alexandra Harris
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's review
May 19, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: history, literary-criticism, non-fiction
Read from April 15 to May 19, 2012

I really enjoyed this, although it begins to feel a little padded and directionless towards the end. Alexandra Harris excels at substantiating her broad general statements about visual and literary culture in the 1930s and 1940s with the pithy use of contemporary diaries, letters and fiction. She has me utterly convinced of her arguments about neo-romanticism vs modernism and the rise of place as an index of English identity. I felt, at times, that she was making this argument with half an eye to the polemic of it rather than as an objective observer of a trend and I found this a little troubling. But overall refreshingly interdisciplinary and passionate. I'm looking forward to reading her book about Virginia Woolf.

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Reading Progress

04/15/2012 page 87
27.0% "I can see exactly why this book won the Guardian First Book Award. What a fascinating jaunt through an alternative 1930s so far. She focuses on the ways British artists, architects and novelists mediated between Modernism and Functionalism and the meaning of the English past. I know very little about John Piper, who seems to be the key to her thesis, but I like what I read and see very much."
04/15/2012 page 87
27.0% "The book itself is an object of beauty too. The quality of the binding, the weight of the paper, the way the illustrations have been integrated into the text without loosing any of their colour or vibrancy. This is how this kind of publishing should be done. Bravo Thames and Hudson!"
05/15/2012 page 214
67.0% "Amazingly beautiful book, and so broad and interdisciplinary in its approach to 1930s 1940s art and culture. Can't wait to hear her speak at Hay festival."

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