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A comparative study of tropes of cultural pessimism in postwar Britain and France.

Ben-Cnaan, N.; (2008) A comparative study of tropes of cultural pessimism in postwar Britain and France. Doctoral thesis , University of London. Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis examines the occurrence, convergence and divergence of tropes of cultural pessimism in British and French letters over the two decades following the Second World War. Like other forms of pessimism, cultural pessimism is a consistently negative approach to the future here it refers to the prospects of culture as a whole, seeing it as being in decline. The specific cultural context surveyed here has received little critical attention in the already limited declinism scholarship as a time of sweeping change, it is a particularly revealing juncture that also suggests new tropes for the cultural pessimism range. Although Britain and France had arrived at the end of the war in rather different circumstances, in the following twenty years they underwent similar social, economic and cultural processes: cultural massification, decolonisation, modernisation, Americanisation, postwar reconstruction and Cold War positioning. These processes are taken as the basis for this ad hoc thematic comparison. The first section discusses cultural pessimism with reference to class and social structure it surveys discourses on Culture and popular culture and expands on two illustrative works: Jean Genet's Le Balcon and Alan Sillitoe's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. In the second section, conceptions of national identity and collective memory come to the fore: similar reattachments to heritage, real or imagined, are explored through Angus Wilson's Anglo-Saxon Attitudes and Marguerite Duras's Hiroshima mon amour. The third section unpacks the morally ambivalent concept of youth along with the advent of youth culture and its greater adaptability to modernisation and Americanisation, and develops this alongside discussions of Boris Vian's L 'Ecume des jours and Colin MacInnes's Absolute Beginners..

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: A comparative study of tropes of cultural pessimism in postwar Britain and France.
Identifier: PQ ETD:592523
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by Proquest
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1445205
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