Raymond Williams Essays

Raymond Williams Essays-8
In '' Communications, Technologies and Social Institutions,'' Williams argues, as he does in the books, '' Communications'' and '' Television: Technology and Cultural Form,'' that ''a technology is always, in a full sense, social. Approximately half the remaining essays examine the social history and political impact of the great technologies of modern democratic culture: the popular press, film and television.

Raymond Williams was perhaps one of the greatest British cultural historians of this century, less well known here than he might have been because he was a Marxist.

Such a mind would be particularly interested in an anecdote Williams tells twice, each time without comment, about a Cambridge meeting at which Williams and Leavis sat side by side.

Thus tested, he never turned away in bitterness from the socialist politics he considered his primary commitment in life. This situation is still, in general, too little understood. Now the bumptious arresting music, the spinning image of the world, the celebrity reader, induce forms of attention and of stress which are often justified, though the signals occur whether there is anything of substance to follow them or not.

All the essays in '' What I Came to Say'' emerge from that commitment, as is evident from such titles as '' Adult Education and Social Change,'' '' The Red and the Green,'' '' Marx on Culture,'' '' Brecht.'' In a lecture on film history misleadingly called '' A Defence of Realism,'' Williams writes that ''we live in a society which is in a sense rotten with criticism, in which the very frustrations of cultural production turn people from production to criticism, to the analysis of the work of others.'' But if all analysis of the work of others were like Williams's, our society would be ripe rather than rotten with criticism. ''' I see the news is bad again.'' The banal phrase punctuates my memories of the late 1930s. The banal phrase of our current years is a rhetorical question: '' Isn't the news terrible?

While this is helpful in considering that he can see the situation from two polar opposites of class, that being working class and academic, occasionally Williams tends to rely on this as fact and causes his essay to lose credibility.

In aid of understanding Williams’ notion of culture, three Marxist principles are explored, only one of which is accepted.

According to Williams however, 'culture' is an unstable mode that moves simultaneously with social changes and is therefore subject to continual reinterpretation, hen...

This is a digitized version of an article from The Times’s print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. These essays therefore have a jerky rhythm and are frequently elliptical and undeveloped.

The use of its fine language is significant in order to create a culture with the experience of history given in literature (Leavis, 1972).

Leavis experienced the traditional English culture as threatened by changes of genre, language and fragmentation in literature, whereby the increased mass media cause a loss of "intelligence, memory and moral purpose" (Leavis, 1972: 202).


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