Edited By Christine Reynier
Mediterranean cultures are shown to haunt American and British culture and artistic productions. The relation between British and American literature and art on the one hand, and Mediterranean arts on the other goes beyond the mere inscription of British and American culture in a Mediterranean tradition. British and American culture and art come out as unearthing a wide variety of Mediterranean artistic forms, renewing and transforming them.
This collection shows how lively the encounter between the Mediterranean and the English-Speaking worlds still is. It highlights how much English as well as American culture and art owe today to the Mediterranean ones; how, mainly in the fields of literature and art, the two civilisations have never discontinued the dialogue they adumbrated centuries ago.
CHRISTINE REYNIER - Confronting Mediterranean and English Values in Clive Bell’sCivilisation and Art: Towards a Redefinition of Formalism - 179
CHRISTINE REYNIER Confronting Mediterranean and English Values in Clive Bell’s Civilisation and Art: Towards a Redefinition of Formalism When Roger Fry was asked by Chatto and Windus to write a book about modern art, he declined for want of time and asked Clive Bell to do it: the result was Art, a now famous essay in art criticism. What is less known is that the book was initially meant to be part of a trilogy entitled The New Renaissance, which ‘was to have given a picture of contempo- rary art, thought, and social organisation’ (Bell 1928, ‘Dedication to Vir- ginia Woolf’: V). Art was first published separately in 1914;102 in 1919, another chapter was extracted from the manuscript and published under the title ‘On British Freedom’;103 and finally, an essay on civilisation was extracted from it and published in 1928. While Art has been influential from the first and is still a reference in art criticism, Civilisation is rarely mentioned today, even if it attracted some critical attention when it came out,104 and a few years later, Leonard Woolf’s response in Barbarians at the Gate which denounced the political solution advocated by Bell. The focus here is not so much the political regime Bell praises at the end of Civilisation – which is certainly debatable – as the bulk of his es- say which bears on civilisation, its Mediterranean roots and values. And since Civilisation and Art were planned simultaneously and meant to be part of the same volume,...
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