looking back at raymond williams


In The Country and The City, Raymond Williams brought to bear, against the well- entrenched, dominant conception of the English “country house” poetic tradition, a sense of historical context, and an understanding of the complex interplay between text and society, so powerful that it is simply not possible, ever again, to read it in the old way. Characteristically, this was no simple act of literary revaluation. The poems and their cultural settings are not downgraded, but re-claimed and re-ordered by the turning on to them of this penetrating critical- historical gaze. We weigh them differently. They are re-positioned in our imagination and understanding. The mystification of “agrarianism”, which still sustains the “Heritage” impulse in contemporary English cultural life, is slowly dissolved and becomes, in its suffocatingly philistine-civilised forms, untenable as a serious intellectual proposition.

more from The New Statesman here.