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Remittance bards : the places, tribes, and dialects of Patrick White and Malcolm Lowry Williams, Clifton Mark 1983

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REMITTANCE BARDS: THE PLACES, TRIBES, AND DIALECTS OF PATRICK WHITE AND MALCOLM LOWRY By CLIFTON MARK WILLIAMS M.A., The U n i v e r s i t y o f Auckland, 1977 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Department o f E n g l i s h , U n i v e r s i t y o f B.C. We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the r e q u i r e d standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 198 3 © C l i f t o n Mark W i l l i a m s , 1983 In presenting t h i s thesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the Library s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. I t i s understood that copying or publication of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. Department of / / v ^ j ^ A The University of B r i t i s h Columbia 1956 Main Mall Vancouver, Canada V6T 1Y3 D a t e / k ' '"' 2-6 (3/81) ABSTRACT T h i s t h e s i s t r a c e s the e f f o r t s of P a t r i c k White and Malcolm Lowry between the years 1933 and 1957 to " p u r i f y the d i a l e c t of the t r i b e . " As young w r i t e r s i n the England of the T h i r t i e s both f e l t the language of the E n g l i s h middle c l a s s , the pre-dominant d i a l e c t of E n g l i s h f i c t i o n , to be exhausted. Some time i n the F o r t i e s , both chose to l i v e and w r i t e i n i s o l a t e d p l a c e s where they b e l i e v e d t h e r e to be E n g l i s h d i a l e c t s which possessed a v i g o u r and a c o n t a c t w i t h r e a l i t y absent i n the England they had abandoned. The t e x t u r e and s t r u c t u r e of t h e i r subsequent w r i t i n g demonstrate the e f f e c t s of t h i s c h o i c e of l o c a l e s . My i n t r o d u c t o r y chapter surveys the concern of both n o v e l i s t s , up to the end of the F i f t i e s , w i t h language, c l a s s , and p l a c e , and addresses the b i o g r a p h i -c a l f a c t s r e l e v a n t to these concerns. T h i s d i s c u s s i o n e s t a b l i s h e s the formal, l i n g u i s t i c , and i d e o l o g i c a l parameters of my approach to these n o v e l i s t s . The body of the t h e s i s i s d i v i d e d i n t o two s e c t i o n s : the f i r s t d e a l s w i t h the p e r i o d up to 1941, the second w i t h the post-war p e r i o d . Part A, chapter I addresses the c u l t u r a l back-ground and the i d e o l o g i c a l confusion of young middle-class writers i n England during the T h i r t i e s . The following three chapters set the early novels of both writers i n t h i s context. Part B begins by establishing the post-war l i t e r a r y milieu i n England from which the f i c t i o n of White and Lowry of f e r s a sharp break. The following f i v e chapters consider the continuing influence of T h i r t i e s dilemmas on t h e i r approach to form and the use of language, the attempts of both writers to f i n d formal means adequate to t h e i r readings of the contempo-rary world, and t h e i r progressive break with l i t e r a r y realism. The conclusion evaluates the l i t e r a r y r esults of these struggles with language: i n p a r t i c u l a r , the degree to which a creative use of d i a l e c t has extended the range of the English novel during a period charact-erized i n England by caution and retrenchment. - i v -TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction 1 - 38 Part A Reluctant Modernists: Before the War I The T h i r t i e s 40 - 88 II Happy Valley 89 - 115 III The L i v i n g And The Dead 116 - 165 IV Ultramarine 166 - 232 Part B Apocalypses and Pastorals: After the War I The Post-War Context 234 - 268 II The Aunt's Story 269 - 322 III The Tree of Man 323 - 402 IV Voss 403 - 453 V Under the Volcano 454 - 521 VI Lowry's Late F i c t i o n 522 - 570 Conclusion 570 - 585 Notes 586 - 623 Bibliography 624 - 640 -v-I should l i k e g r a t e f u l l y t o acknowledge the p a t i e n c e and encouragement of my s u p e r v i s o r , P r o f . W.H. New. I should a l s o l i k e to acknowledge my readers, P r o f e s s o r s Diana Brydon and Graham Good. Thanks a l s o t o S h e r r i n B i r d who typed w i t h a zealous eye f o r e r r o r . -1-Introduction To watch the corn grow, and the blossoms set; to draw hard breath over ploughshare or spade; to read, to think, to love, to hope, to pray, — these are the things that make men happy ... The world's prosperity or adversity depends upon our knowing and teaching these few things: but upon iron, or glass, or e l e c t r i c i t y , or steam, i n no wise. John Ruskin, Modern Painters England i s the country and the country i s England. Stanley Baldwin, On England - 2 -Dylan Thomas once d e s c r i b e d h i m s e l f to an American audience as a "remittance bard."-'- The e p i t h e t , though w i t -t i l y p l a c e d , i s not q u i t e j u s t . The p o i n t about remittance men i s t h a t the income which allows them to i n d u l g e t h e i r v i c e s i n d i s t a n t p l a c e s must come not from abroad but from home. Thomas was simply f o l l o w i n g t h a t l i n e of E n g l i s h poets and n o v e l i s t s who have toured America i n search of much needed cash. However outrageous h i s behaviour, no r e s p e c t -able r e l a t i v e was s u f f i c i e n t l y s c a n d a l i z e d to pack him o f f to the c o l o n i e s . However a p p e a l i n g to him was the n o t i o n of r e m i t t a n c e s , no-one was prepared to pay to keep him out of England. The l i f e o f Malcolm Lowry, on the other hand, i s a l a t e c l a s s i c i n the remittance man t r a d i t i o n . Malcolm Lowry was a t r u e r e m i t t a n c e bard. The youngest son i n a wealthy, Methodist, L i v e r -p o o l f a m i l y , Malcolm Lowry decided e a r l y i n l i f e to r e b e l a g a i n s t the " v i r t u e s " of h i s background. He would have no t r u c k w i t h r e s p e c t a b i l i t y , church going, money making, s o b r i e t y , and f i l i a l p i e t y . So he f l e d abroad to e x o t i c p l a c e s and ended up i n one of those E n g l i s h - s p e a k i n g back-waters which remained f o r Lowry's t r i b e , the E n g l i s h I m p e r i a l middle c l a s s , r i g h t up to the Second World War "the c o l o n i e s . " Throughout Lowry's t r a v e l l i n g s from 19 3 3 -3-on the unpurged image of h i s f a t h e r tormented h i s s o u l while the steady remittances h i s f a t h e r sent him helped to s l a k e h i s p r o d i g i o u s t h i r s t . To the Lowrys of L i v e r p o o l Malcolm was a w a s t r e l , a d r a i n on the f a m i l y resources and p a t i e n c e regarded 'with, mixed annoyance and p u z z l e d a f f e c t i o n . That w r i t i n g might be regarded as a" s e r i o u s o c c u p a t i o n seems never to have o c c u r r e d to A r t h u r 0. Lowry, Malcolm's f a t h e r . In 1942 A r t h u r Lowry wrote h i s son a l e t t e r which r e v e a l s an unabashed p h i l i s t i n i s m i n remarks such as these: I a s p i r e to no l i t e r a r y e f f o r t i n t h i s l e t t e r but j u s t to simple p l a i n f a c t s . I admire your l i t e r a r y g i f t s but l i t e r a -t u r e d e p r i v e d of simple human f a c t s i s not the food a f a t h e r ' s and mother's he a r t can feed upon.2 To the end of h i s l i f e , Lowry pl a y e d the r o l e of unrepen-t e n t p r o d i g a l to A.O. Lowry 1s v e r s i o n of the s t e r n but p o t e n t i a l l y f o r g i v i n g f a t h e r . Lowry s e n i o r saw the r e l a -t i o n s h i p i n e x p l i c i t l y B i b l i c a l terms, u r g i n g h i s son i n the l e t t e r a l r e a d y quoted to "Read the s t o r y of the P r o d i -g a l Son." Malcolm Lowry pla y e d the c o n g e n i a l r o l e of p r o d i g a l long a f t e r h i s f a t h e r ' s death. - 4 -As with a l l prodigals and remittance men Lowry never completely freed himself from the background he took such pains to f l e e . He remained a prisoner of the family, the class, and the place i n which he was born. We misunder-stand the man and his writing i f we f a i l to grasp the f a t a l flaw i n his r e b e l l i o n : Lowry remained dependent on a l l that he rejected. Even as a married man i n his t h i r t i e s , Lowry was prepared to write begging l e t t e r s to his father which o f f e r the c o n t r i t i o n and self-abasement demanded by the holder of the purse str i n g s . At the same time he despised everything his father stood for. Lowry had none of Earnest Pontifex's scruples when i t came to accepting money from sources whose values he repudiated. Like Samuel Beckett, his near contemporary, Lowry was both kept and strangled far into adult l i f e on a long parental leash. Even Lowry's poverty — Lowry always had a romantic and bourgeois-baiting enthusiasm for the trappings of poverty — rested upon an unearned income. As Earle Birney, the Canadian poet and Lowry 1s f r i e n d at Dollarton, notes i n the margin of h i s copy of Lowry's Selected Letters against Harvey B r e i t ' s impassioned introductory piece on Lowry's f i n a n c i a l d i s t r e s s : -5-his poverty was never 'complete'; he had an allowance from his father, small, but s i g n i f i c a n t i n the t h i r t i e s , and after 1947 an increasing income from books. He l i v e d free of rent and taxes at Dollarton. His poverty was the re s u l t of his alcoholism.3 Patrick White's l i f e story, considered i n the remittance-man t r a d i t i o n , has an unfamiliar twist: unwilling to f i t into the c o l o n i a l grazier world of his parents, he was supported i n London throughout the late T h i r t i e s by remittances from A u s t r a l i a . Born i n London i n 1912, three years aft e r Lowry was born, White spent his childhood i n Au s t r a l i a and was sent back to England at age thirteen to be educated, or "ironed out" as he himself has put i t , at a 4 m i l i t a r i s t i c public school, Cheltenham. After coming down from Cambridge i n 19 35 White was no more able to return to his class, the Australian version of the English country gentry, and act out the expected role as grazier than Lowry, when he came down i n 19 32, was able to return to the bosom of the p r o v i n c i a l Imperial middle class to c u l t i v a t e an int e r e s t i n the fate of o i l and cotton stocks. White, l i k e Katherine Mansfield before him, began to write as a reverse remittance man. Far from being sent to "the colonies" for alco h o l i c or other scandalous reasons, he was maintained comfortably i n London by a puzzled but -6-tolerant father unsure what to make of the cuckoo hatched i n an otherwise tidy nest: an a r t i s t . White's homosexuality does not seem to have been a problem for his family as was Lowry's drinking, i f only because i t was more e a s i l y ignored. The f a t a l brand of separateness that made White an outsider in his family, h i s class, and his country was neither drunkenness nor homosexuality but the mere fact of being an a r t i s t . At any rate, i t i s hardly surprising that White should have chosen l i k e so many other Australian writers and a r t i s t s between the wars to s e t t l e i n London where he wrote pale poems, derivative novels, and unstaged plays. There i s a photograph of Patrick White i n a Time-Life study of Aus t r a l i a and New Zealand published i n 1964 i n which we see a s t y l i s h l y dressed urbane figure against a background of modernist paintings and bric-a-brac. This same book also contains a series of photographs of the White family sheep station, " B e l l t r e e s . " ^ As White's autobiography, Flaws i n the Glass, reveals, "Belltrees" i s one of the several farms of "the White brothers," Patrick's father and uncles, whom we see i n a l l t h e i r Edwardian confidence — wealthy, decent, masculine, decidedly of the governing class — i n a photo--7-graph i n Flaws i n the Glass. What i s s t r i k i n g i s the s i m i l a r i t y of the Whites of "Belltrees" i n 1964 to the s o l i d Edwardian group i n Flaws i n the Glass. In both groups we sense an unassailable s t a b i l i t y , a fixed convict-ion of belonging to a superior class, and a supreme c o n f i -dence that one's family and i t s p r i v i l e g e s w i l l endure i n spite of time and change. Depicted at dinner on resplendent mahogany, the modern grazier Whites might have leapt from the pages of one of t h e i r cousin's novels set i n the 1910s. It i s s i g n i f i c a n t that the Time-Life book does not allude to the connection between the n o v e l i s t and the graziers. To outward appearances White has escaped t h e i r world; he i s no longer i d e n t i f i a b l e with his o r i g i n s . Yet i n his f i c t i o n of the F i f t i e s and S i x t i e s White returns again and again to the vanished world of Edwardian c o l o n i a l graziers. In h i s novels the world of "the White brothers" continues to figure as a point of s t a b i l i t y , although contemporary h i s -tory i s everywhere recorded as a series of savage declensions. Like Lowry, then, White never completely freed himself from his o r i g i n s . And as with Lowry, the period i n which he f i r s t asserted his independence of his background -8-was one i n which he r e l i e d upon remittances from home to finance his self-expression. White made his break with family, c l a s s , and nation during the la t e T h i r t i e s when he set himself up as a writer on the f a i n t l y r a f f i s h border-land between g e n t i l i t y and bohemia on four hundred pounds per annum remitted. Ebury Street, where White l i v e d on coming down from Cambridge, was s t i l l s t y l i s h i n the T h i r t i e s , though declined from i t s former splendours. Situated where Belgravia s l i p s into Pimlico, i t had been elegant enough i n the pre-war period for George Moore to have rooms there. Osbert S i t w e l l r e c a l l s v i s i t i n g Moore P there around that time. Ebury Street i s chosen by V i r g i n i a Woolf i n The Years (1937) as a suitable place i n 1914 i n which to i n s t a l l an upper-middle-class bachelor of taste.^ Certainly, Ebury Street was not i n the late T h i r t i e s quite as r a f f i s h and bohemian as White paints i t i n Flaws- i n the G l a s s . 1 0 White's d i s t o r t i o n of his Ebury Street milieu i s not merely the r e s u l t of hi s romanticism. White declasses Ebury Street i n retrospect because there for the f i r s t time i n his l i f e , he had been able to put a distance between himself and his " t r i b e . " Ebury Street allowed him to make his f i r s t t e l l i n g gesture of independence, even i f h i s flamboyant denial of orig i n s was made possible -9-by a generous allowance from home. Having made t h i s gesture White was able to return to A u s t r a l i a i n 1947 without fear of being swallowed by family and cla s s . He had transcended the rebel's need to announce his r e b e l l i o n by means of an aggressive s t y l e . Henceforth he would express his flambo-yance i n his writing rather than i n his way of l i f e . He bought a small farm outside Sydney at Castle H i l l , a semi-ru r a l suburb i n those days, where he set himself to c u l t i v a t e humility. The White of t h i s period stares at us mournfully from beside the flank of his " i l l i c i t cow." 1 1 At Castle H i l l , White was able to observe his former t r i b e from a safe distance. Patrick White and Malcolm Lowry at c r u c i a l points in t h e i r careers both l e f t the London milieu i n which, however marginally, they were on th e i r way to becoming established as minor novelists who might yet produce major work. They moved as far as possible from the c i t y which u n t i l the Second World War was the i n t e l l e c t u a l centre of the English-speaking world. They did not content themselves with a cottage i n the Sussex countryside and the option of commuting to London. They did not choose to s e t t l e i n any of the favourite watering holes of expatriate English l i t e r a t i around the Mediterranean l i t t o r a l . The Mediterra--10-nean was very popular in the Twenties and T h i r t i e s among writers who, l i k e Norman Douglas and the Australian Martin Boyd, found the English-speaking world "chaste and castrated" 12 (the phrase i s Ezra Pound's). As C y r i l Connolly's nar-rator observes i n The Rock Pool (19 35) one could tour the South of France i n the T h i r t i e s by following the colonies of writers i n the various towns. J White, evidently, found such a l i f e s t y l e a t t r a c t i v e a f t e r the war, more a t t r a c t i v e anyway than that offered by an exhausted England. He narrowly rejected the l i f e of a Hellenic beach-comber i n favour of A u s t r a l i a i n 1946-7. 1 4 Nor can White and Lowry s a t i s f a c t o r i l y be grouped with a l l those English writers from public schools and Oxbridge who t r a v e l l e d abroad i n the T h i r t i e s i n search of exotic locales with which to compare a moribund English c i v i l i z a t i o n (so i t was widely perceived). Such expeditions, as Paul F u s s e l l shows i n his Abroad, were a l l the rage i n the doom-ridden T h i r t i e s . 1 5 Aldous Huxley, Graham Greene, W.H. Auden, Christopher Isherwood, Robert Byron, Evelyn Waugh, and Peter Fleming — a l l made such journeys and wrote them up for a receptive public. The travels of White and Lowry i n t h i s period had d i f f e r e n t motivations and d i f f e r e n t outcomes from those of these others. White and -11-Lowry wrote no t r a v e l books proper, although t h e i r f i r s t novels have something i n common with the genre. Ultramarine (1933), l i k e many T h i r t i e s t r a v e l books, describes an uncomfortable and hazardous journey to out-of-the-way places undertaken by a young middle-class Englishman. Like so many of t h e i r generation, White and Lowry f e l t European c i v i l i z a t i o n to be i n imminent danger of collapse. But they were less sure than Auden or Waugh or Robert Byron of t h e i r own place within that guttering c i v i l i z a t i o n . They were more profoundly drawn to worlds outside the normal understanding of educated Englishmen than were these others. Between school and Cambridge both abandoned for a time the comforts of upper-middle-class l i f e and took up menial occupations: White as a "jackeroo" on outback sheep stations, Lowry as a deckhand on a fre i g h t e r . These descents into the labouring classes signal that White and Lowry were seriously seeking some alternative to " c i v i l i z a t i o n " as th e i r education had taught them to understand that term. Neither Auden nor Isherwood made such descents, and even Orwell did so primarily for research purposes. White and Lowry were drawn to the primitive and the proletarian not merely as something to observe but also as a possible way of l i f e . At any rate, i n the T h i r t i e s they were not -12-interested merely i n describing foreign or exotic expe-riences to a middle-class English audience. White and Lowry were by no means unusual i n t h e i r desire to f l e e England as i t was i n the late T h i r t i e s . The t i t l e of Osbert Si t w e l l ' s book written at the end of the T h i r t i e s , Escape with Me (1939), bespeaks the mood of a generation of English i n t e l l e c t u a l s eager to discover some part of the globe not "made and governed i n the image of Manchester or Detroit. "-^ Whether from horror of the ghosts of grandfathers, of reigning dullness, or of impending bombs, England by 19 39 was widely held to be a place to get out of. White and Lowry are unusual i n the u n l i k e l y places for which they traded a depressed and depressing England. Both chose places where they could expect to f i n d l i t t l e i n the way of l i t e r a r y communities or s i g n i f i -cant new reading publics. White, of course, had the a t t r a c t i o n of a remembered landscape to p u l l him back to A u s t r a l i a . But no less than Lowry he found the inhabitants of the desired landscape i n t o l e r a b l y d u l l . And more than Lowry, who always preferred nature to culture, the rough-and-ready to the polished, White missed i n A u s t r a l i a the 17 " c i v i l i z e d surroundings" he had known i n London. -13-It was a landscape without figures to which he chose to return. I t i s worth considering just how un l i k e l y were B r i t i s h Columbia and A u s t r a l i a as places of residence for Lowry and White i n the F o r t i e s . They were backwaters inhabited,according to both writers, largely by p h i l i s t i n e s . They were bourgeois i n the sense i n which bohemians and dandies understand the term. They were p r o v i n c i a l and John B u l l i s h . And they were those parts of the English-speaking world least tolerant of each writer's p a r t i c u l a r "vice." Lowry, the drunk, chose to s e t t l e i n B r i t i s h Columbia where, despite the fortunes made by Vancouver businessmen i n the Twenties running rum to pr o h i b i t i o n America, liquor laws that Lowry 1s Wesleyan father might have dreamed up, and the hideousness of what passed i n the province for drinking establishments meant that drinking was decidedly "beset" for a "self-respecting drunkard" 18 l i k e Malcolm Lowry. White, the homosexual, chose to set up house with his Greek lover i n A u s t r a l i a at a time when Greeks were considered black and "poofteroos," i f 19 they were suspected, were altogether beyond the pale. Much of what White has written about l i f e i n A u s t r a l i a and Lowry about l i f e i n Canada i s so scathing -14-that one i s forced to wonder how or why either managed to endure his long stay. There i s a quality of hysteria i n both cases. White's survey of contemporary A u s t r a l i a i n "The Prodigal Son," an essay written i n the F i f t i e s that i s part apologia, part manifesto, r e c a l l s T.S. E l i o t ' s "immense panorama" of the modern world i n "Ulysses, Order, and Myth." 2 0 Everywhere there i s ugliness, f u t i l i t y , the sprawling emptiness of a f a l l e n democratic world. Eschew-ing E l i o t ' s empyrean tone, White p i l e s image upon image of the ugly, the banal, the fatuous. For White, l i k e E l i o t , the dung-heap of modernity i s b u i l t up out of the leavings of democracy, and A u s t r a l i a with i t s l e v e l l i n g and ranco-rous democratic s p i r i t i s the most f a l l e n of possible worlds. The c u l t of the average that s a t i s f i e s the p a l t r y desires of the common man produces i n e v i t a b l y for White a c u l t u r a l wasteland. Such an authorial attitude i s to be found, sometimes concealed, sometimes overt, i n a l l White's Australian f i c t i o n . At times, White seeks to d i s t r a c t our attention from t h i s ideology by his public statements i n favour of the Australian Labour Party and by his deter-mination to depict ordinary Australian l i f e . But his formal method, hi s s t y l e , his narrative stances have always been at odds with such democratic statements. -15-White's method has been not to depict but to aestheticize ordinary experience. In "The Prodigal Son" White makes clear that his intention from his a r r i v a l i n A u s t r a l i a was to render from a symbolist perspective and with high roman-t i c colourings the t r a d i t i o n a l material of r e a l i s t i c f i c t i o n . His problem was that he found A u s t r a l i a as i t  was quite unsuitable for the kind of art he had i n mind to produce. In White's aestheticism which finds expression above a l l i n his s t y l e we f i n d most c l e a r l y evidence of his distaste for the common experience of A u s t r a l i a . I t i s as though the s t y l e i s designed to hold at arm's length the vulgar matter of the narrative. Lowry's loathing of Canadian urban l i f e i s Jeremian i n the violence of i t s expression and i n the range of i t s condemnation. His incessant r a i l i n g s against Vancouver exceed the licence we allow a drunkard thwarted i n h i s addiction by the puritanism and provincialism of B r i t i s h Columbia i n the F o r t i e s . Reading his l a t e r work, one feels that his love of the Canadian landscape was achieved at the expense of an i n j u s t i c e to Canada as a whole. Lowry's love of Dollarton was i n inverse propor-ti o n to his hatred of Vancouver. It i s as though he could only express the one i n terms of i t s negation of the other. -16-Lowry needed Vancouver at close hand to stand as a ready example of a l l that was wrong with the modern world so that Dollarton by contrast might be invested with the numinous aura of a wholeness that had elsewhere succumbed to the fragmentation of modern history. Patrick White and Malcolm Lowry share a d u a l i s t i c habit of mind which in f e c t s not only t h e i r handling of character but also t h e i r a b i l i t y to see whole t h e i r adoptive countries. White's A u s t r a l i a i s either a land-scape which encourages mystical p o s s i b i l i t i e s or the end-less banality of suburbia. Lowry's Canada i s either the unspoiled wilderness of Dollarton or the i n f i n i t e squalor of downtown Vancouver. Both writers, i t i s true, expe-rimented with various means of including these d u a l i t i e s within larger wholes, but neither ever managed to shuck off his i n i t i a l d u a l i s t i c response to the country i n which he had chosen to l i v e and write. Given t h e i r common contempt for the s o c i e t i e s they found i n t h e i r respective backwaters and given the novelist's need of a r i c h s o c i a l l i f e on which to draw, why did White and Lowry remain so long i n such u n l i k e l y places? -17-Th e simple answer to t h i s question i s that both writers were averse to society i n nearly a l l i t s contempo-rary forms and preferred uncluttered nature. Such an explanation at le a s t serves to account for the extraordinary degree of i s o l a t i o n they accepted. Lowry almost e n t i r e l y cut himself o f f from the outside world, protecting his hard-won domestic b l i s s i n a squatter's shack on the beach at Dollarton. White s e t t l e d down on a small farm outside Sydney, c u l t i v a t i n g a stormy but intermittently b l i s s f u l domesticity while r a i s i n g dogs, goats, flowers, and vege-tables. A major source of t h e i r s a t i s f a c t i o n with t h e i r respective backwaters i s suggested by the bucolic a c t i v i -t i e s to which they turned: milking on i l l i c i t cow, building a makeshift pier, growing cabbages, observing the seasons. In a world of technology, u t i l i t y , motion, and masses we detect the ri n g of a Ruskinite l i t a n y . White and Lowry are f i g h t i n g t h e i r way back against the d i r t y stream of contemporary history and have, i t would seem, stumbled on s t i l l unspoiled worlds of organic v i r t u e . Yet there were s t i l l plenty of r u r a l backwaters in the England of the T h i r t i e s loaded with charm, history, and thatched cottages. Moreover, the modern world had -18-unequivocally reached both B r i t i s h Columbia and Sydney by the outbreak of World War I I . White's semi-rural retreat was engulfed during the F i f t i e s and S i x t i e s by the red brick march of suburbia. Lowry's shack at Dollarton faced an o i l r e f i n e r y which belched through the war years, o i l i n g the machinery of a c i v i l i z a t i o n bent on s e l f - d e s t r u c t i o n . There was, however, a signal advantage that Dollarton and Castle H i l l enjoyed over an English cathedral town or a pleasant backwater l i k e Zennor, a town which Auden favoured as a holiday spot and ..in . which White wrote Housman.-like 21 poems in the mid T h i r t i e s . The advantage was simply that modernization had gone further i n England, i t s pre-sence was f e l t more ubiquitously. This meant that i t was d i f f i c u l t i n England by the T h i r t i e s to f i n d any place where the t r a d i t i o n a l ways not only lingered on as quaint r e l i c s of the past but also possessed more than a remnant of t h e i r former l i f e . The connection between the past and present had been too sharply broken. It was possible to mourn the old ways but not to o f f e r them as constituting a s t i l l v i able way of l i f e . In England during the Twenties and T h i r t i e s the process of the eradication of t r a d i t i o n a l ways of l i f e -19-was more or less consolidated. The old organic world was expunged from the countryside by the new towns, ribbon developments, modern factories i n the south, mock-Tudor suburbia, and a r t e r i a l highways. This i s the process op-posed most vehemently by Lawrence i n the Twenties and Leavis i n the T h i r t i e s . But i t was opposed also by a large number of T h i r t i e s writers who did not at a l l share Lawrence's conservative p o l i t i c s . It was opposed, for instance, by C. Day Lewis, George Orwell, and John Betjeman, to compile a promiscuous l i s t . It i s clear that English writers of the T h i r t i e s f e l t that a point of no return had been reached. Modernity was triumphant and only a few pockets of t r a d i t i o n , a few l a s t outposts of the old or-ganic order, remained to be mopped up. In A u s t r a l i a and in B r i t i s h Columbia the process had not gone so f a r . White and Lowry d e l i b e r a t e l y positioned themselves on f r o n t i e r s between two worlds: the t r a d i t i o n a l r u r a l world in which man supposedly f e l t himself to be part of natural process and the modern world i n which man i s alienated from natural process. F i f t y years previously, as Raymond Williams observes i n Culture and Society (1958), D.H. Lawrence had found himself on just such a f r o n t i e r at Haggs Farm where he loved Jessie Chambers, the "Miriam" - 2 0 -of Sons and Lovers. At Haggs Farm, Lawrence was able to observe and evaluate the new r e a l i t y from the standpoint of a vanishing r e a l i t y . The advantage of Dollarton and Castle H i l l for Lowry and White was that these places offered what Haggs Farm had offered Lawrence: a perspective from within an i n t a c t organic order that was threatened but not yet on the point of being squeezed out of r e a l i t y . In England by the T h i r t i e s Williams' " f r o n t i e r , " a word which suggests a demarcation between separate and roughly equivalent forces, had collapsed. According to Leavis by the early T h i r t i e s the organic community of the old England "had so nearly disappeared from memory that to make anyone, however educated, r e a l i z e what i t was i s 2 3 commonly a d i f f i c u l t undertaking." Yet Leavis claimed not only that i t s traces were detectable i n England but also that such communities continued to e x i s t outside England. Scrutiny writers were wont to use two books in p a r t i c u l a r as evidence that such a thing as "the organic community" had ever existed and that i t s passing ought to be considered a loss. One of these was Stuart Chase's Mexico, a work which Lowry knew and admired. Chase's book was a t t r a c t i v e to -21-Leavisites because i t suggested that i n the organic qua l i t y of Mexican peasant l i f e was to be found an answer to the ugliness, the frenzy, and the dislocations of modern l i f e . In other words, Mexican peasants with t h e i r poverty, t h e i r i l l i t e r a c y , t h e i r superstitions, the handicrafts, t h e i r subsistence agriculture provided an a t t r a c t i v e a l t e r n a t i v e to the u t i l i t a r i a n - i n d u s t r i a l kind of l i f e that Manchester and Detroit were successfully exporting a l l over the world. "Mexico," Chase asserted, was "one of the l a s t stands of the handicraft age,"^ and t h i s was enough to recommend i t to disgruntled observers of the modern world, Lowry among them. That Lowry shared Leavis' and Chase's notions about the organic virtues of Mexican peasant l i f e i s shown not only by the echoes of Chase's book i n Under the  Volcano (1947) but also i n an a r t i c l e which Lowry had typed during his second v i s i t to Mexico i n 1945-6 and which he used as working notes for a novel uncompleted at the time of his death, "La Mordida." The a r t i c l e i s e n t i t l e d "Vanishing Enchantment" and i t attributes the loss of the old Mexican sense of the beauty and enchantment of the world to prosperity, to ugly modern -22-architecture, and to tourism. Its author l i b e r a l l y quotes from the English journal, Country L i f e , as evidence in support of his claim that t r a d i t i o n a l r u r a l l i f e offered the Mexican peasant a sense of at-homeness i n the world and kept a l i v e his sense of wonder. In t h i s somewhat grotesque transposition of English nostalgia for the world before i n d u s t r i a l i s m to Mexican conditions we f i n d the kind of longing that drew Lowry to Mexico i n the mid T h i r t i e s . The second book Leavis and his followers used as evidence that the organic community was not a myth but an authentic part of the English past was George Sturt's The Wheelwright Shop (1923). Leavis quotes a passage from t h i s work i n his Culture and Environment (19 33) which reveals the shape of the nostalgia that a f f l i c t e d Leavis, Lowry, and White. The passage i s worth quoting: The men, unlettered, often t a c i t u r n , sure of themselves, muscular, not e a s i l y t i r e d , were in a sort of way an epitome of the indomitable adaption of our breed to land and to climate. As a wild animal species to i t s habitat, so these workmen had f i t t e d themselves to the l o c a l conditions of l i f e and death. - 2 3 -Individually they had no special claim to notice; but as members of old-world communities they exemplified well how the South English t r i b e s , traversing t h e i r f e r t i l e v a l l e y s , t h e i r shaggy h i l l s , had matched themselves against problems without number, and had handed on, from father to son, the accumulated store of experience. If one could know enough, one might see, i n ancient v i l l a g e c r a f t s l i k e that of the sawyers, the r e f l e c t i o n s as i t were of the p e c u l i a r i t i e s of the countryside -- the d i f f i c u l t i e s and dangers, the d a i l y conditions — to which these c r a f t s were the answer. ... they themselves, you found, were s p e c i a l i s t s of no mean order when i t came to the problem of getting a heavy tree — half a ton or so of lumber — on a saw p i t and s p l i t t i n g i t l o n g i t u d i n a l l y into s p e c i f i e d thicknesses, no more and no l e s s . What though the i n d i v i d u a l looked stupid? That lore of the English t r i b e s as i t were embodied i n them was not stupid any more than an animal's shape i s stupid. I t was an organic thing, very d i f f e r e n t from the organized effects of commerce.^ This i s pre c i s e l y the world of Stan Parker at "Du r i l g a i " i n Patrick White's The Tree of Man (1955). Stan Parker, White's pioneer small farmer, i s "muscular", "tac i t u r n " , and on the face of i t "stupid". In "Du r i l g a i " we see a community composed of peasants of English stock (except for the Irish) i n the process of f i t t i n g i t s e l f to a habitat. When Sturt claims that -24-"the p e c u l i a r i t i e s of the countryside" are r e f l e c t e d i n the l i v e s of the people we may think of White's praise of a novel by the New Zealander Maurice Shadbolt i n which White speaks of Shadbolt's a b i l i t y to convey the ways i n which "the tremors and often disastrous eruptions" of the land are r e f l e c t e d i n the l i v e s of " i t s only s u p e r f i c i a l l y bland 2 8 inhabitants." These words are far more appropriate to The Tree of Man than to Shadbolt's pedestrian novel. When Stan Parker teaches young Joe Peabody to fence we see the handing on from one generation to the next of "the accu-mulated store of experience." Stan's i n a b i l i t y to hand on what he knows to his son, Ray, i s one of the chief signs i n the novel of the breakdown of the organic com-munity under the impact of a rootless modernity. Cut off from h i s o r i g i n s , Ray becomes an u t t e r l y fragmented being v i s i t e d i n spite of himself by moments of nostalgia for the golden-grained, animal world of childhood. The same mood of mixed wistfulness and affirma-tion — w i s t f u l for a world that belongs i n the past, affirmative because against a l l the odds i t i s a l i v e i n the present — informs Lowry's "The Forest Path to the Spring" (1961). Here the community depicted i s less - 2 5 -t r i b a l than i n Sturt's or even White's evocations of the organic past. Lowry's "Eridanus" i s composed of the outcasts of the modern world: a rag-bag of n a t i o n a l i t i e s . Yet i n a curious way these flotsam are joined by a bond that i s as nearly t r i b a l as i s possible i n the modern world. The fishermen and squatters at "Eridanus" have been uprooted, but they are not rootless. They are throw-backs to an older way of l i f e , and as such they are d i s -placed everywhere i n a world that has no use for any of the t r a d i t i o n a l modes of connection. Only in "Eridanus", where they l i v e under the d a i l y threat of e v i c t i o n and against the grain of contemporary history, can they keep a l i v e the old r e l i g i o u s attitudes towards c r a f t s . Here a house i s b u i l t out of the communal store of knowledge. Here men l i v e "as i n t e g r a l parts i n the r u r a l community." Here the members of the community have " f i t t e d themselves to the l o c a l conditions of l i f e and death." In these works composed around the same time and a r i s i n g out of White's and Lowry's discoveries of what they took to be organic communities we f i n d a similar and quite unexpected sense of affirmation. To turn from The L i v i n g and the Dead (1941) or Under the Volcano to -26-The Tree of Man or "The Forest Path to the Spring" i s to turn from novels caught up by the movement of disintegra-t i o n they trace to novels i n which the p o s s i b i l i t y of human wholeness i s not merely suggested but i s a c t i v e l y affirmed. In the e a r l i e r novels we f i n d intimations of possible wholeness, of ways of l i f e more rounded and s a t i s f y i n g than those that are the norm in a European c i v i l i z a t i o n s l i p p i n g into the Second World War. Inva-r i a b l y , these alternatives are located outside the worlds which the novels describe and invariably they are unable to r e s i s t the furious bias of contemporary history towards disaster which both novels record. In the l a t t e r works there i s an elegiac tone, a recognition of the precariousness of what has been recovered and that i t e x ists not so much by vir t u e of place as by authorial act of w i l l or desire. Yet t h i s elegiac tone does not negate the affirmation. The desired alternatives to a c i v i l i z a t i o n on the verge of collapse are not i n the l a t t e r works merely u n l i k e l y and unconvincing gestures. They are the fixed points, the " r e a l i t i e s , " from which the novelists now write. - 2 7 -The depth of affirmation i n The Tree of Man and in "The Forest Path to the Spring" i s sign a l l e d above a l l by a new qua l i t y i n the writing i t s e l f . There i s a new vigour and a new s i m p l i c i t y i n the use of language that i s not merely the r e s u l t of B i b l i c a l or e p i c a l imitation. The discovery of t h i s new texture of language knits toge-ther the various themes I have been tracing. In these works both novelists manage to bring together d i a l e c t , place, and t r i b e . This i s not merely a question of t h e i r having found d i a l e c t s more vigorous and c o l l o q u i a l than those of the classes, or t r i b e s , from which they had come. I t i s the r e s u l t for both writers of haying found places i n which language had not yet l o s t i t s o r i g i n a l and most sacred function of naming things. Language had not yet been corrupted by abstraction and by habit. In each work certain words achieve an incanta-tory e f f e c t as i t s author s t r i v e s by naming to invest with o r i g i n a l s i g n i f i c a n c e things whose aura has been l o s t as part of the legacy of expulsion from the organic community. By "aura" I mean the numinous qual i t y that objects possess for those who accept the romantic--28-organicist notion that the perceiver i s part of the world he perceives, that perception i s a creative act rather than the mere passive reception of images. This notion, of course, goes back to Blake and Coleridge and Wordsworth. An echo of Blake's "The Sun's Light when he unfolds i t / Depends on the Organ that beholds i t " may be heard i n Lowry's "Oh, what l i g h t and love can do to four gas tanks 2 9 at sunrise over the water." White's use of l i g h t i n Voss (1957) draws d i r e c t l y on the same romantic notion that there i s a creative collaboration between the mind, the eye, t r i c k s of l i g h t , and the object world. In The  Tree of Man and i n "The Forest Path to the Spring" White and Lowry s t r i v e to create a language adequate to t h e i r discoveries of places i n which, apparently, the mind i s able romantically to f e e l i t s e l f at home with the world of things. They attempt to close the gap between words and the things to which words re f e r . They aim to create a Coleridgean language of symbols that might suggest the connections between a l l things and restore poetry to a universe whence i t has been banished by commerce and science. -29-In The Tree of Man the e s s e n t i a l words name the few concrete things with which Stan seeks to impress him-s e l f upon the wilderness but which are, ultimately, the agents of his inc l u s i o n within the world he changes: tree, f i r e , axe, dog. These words possess only t h e i r barest, denotative function as i s appropriate i n a world of abso-lute s i m p l i c i t i e s . Yet, pr e c i s e l y because there i s such an equivalence between the words and the few, fundamental objects they denote, the words achieve the epic, incanta-tory, and universal q u a l i t i e s of B i b l i c a l narrative: Stan i s the man; Amy i s the woman. White, i t would seem, has discovered i n the very pristineness, the utter absence of sop h i s t i c a t i o n of the outback, the connection he has long sought between words and things, events and meaning. In "The Forest Path to the Spring" the key words are those of elements or natural things or of the secondary effects of natural phenomena: spring, wood, f i r e , l i g h t . Gradually, as we read the story these things cease merely to name things i n the world. Instead, they map the i n f i n i t e l y subtle r e g i s t r a t i o n s of a p a r t i c u l a r world on consciousness, on the reader's as much as the narra-tor's. The narrator of "The Forest Path to the Spring" describes the language of "Duril g a i " as much as that of ' -30-"Eridanus" i n these words: If we had progressed ... i t was as i f to a region where such words as spring, water, houses, trees, vines, l a u r e l s , mountains, wolves, bay, roses, beach, islands, forest, tides and deer and snow and f i r e , had r e a l i z e d t h e i r true being, or had t h e i r source (HL, 280). To gauge the e f f e c t of t h i s mood of affirmation on the writing of Patrick White and Malcolm Lowry we need only compare The Tree of Man and "The Forest Path to the Spring," which were written around the mid F i f t i e s with t h e i r f i c t i o n of the T h i r t i e s and of the early war years. Nothing i s so s t r i k i n g i n The Living and the Dead as the sense of the inadequacy of available language to the novelist's task. There i s an obsessive recording i n the novel of the e f f e c t s of advertising, jazz, and the cinema on the a b i l i t y of people to think, f e e l , or act c l e a r l y . The novel recognizes r e l u c t a n t l y that i t must employ the currency of a language that has been debased by contemporary usage: i t i s infected by what i t records. In Lowry's f i r s t novel, Ultramarine, there i s a pervasive qua l i t y of s t r a i n i n g a f t e r e f f e c t i n the dwelling on the exotic names of ships, of places, of characters, and with the racy idiom of the s a i l o r s . At one point, a f t e r -31-treating us to a passage of obscene s a i l o r s ' talk, the narrator discloses to us what sea voyages o f f e r him that he cannot f i n d back home i n Liverpool with bourgeois family and "pure" g i r l f r i e n d : "a selection of the r e a l languages of men." 3 0 Dana H i l l i o t , then, l i k e the young i n o v e l i s t , Malcolm Lowry, i s voyaging out from the dead, mechanical England of his class and time i n search of the Wordsworthian point where language, invigorated by the organic l i f e of the peasantry, touches r e a l i t y . I t i s l o g i c a l that, the English peasantry having long since been turned into factory fodder, Lowry/Hilliot should seek t h e i r substitute i n the mens' quarters of a tramp steamer: "Fourteen men i n a forecastle. How swi f t l y , how inc r e d i b l y s w i f t l y they had become a community," c r i e s Dana somewhat prematurely but remark-ably revealingly (U. 23). The "community" of s a i l o r s on the S.S. Oedipus Tyrannus i s , however, reluctant to receive to i t s manly bosom the romantic and slumming Dana, largely because his d i a l e c t does not correspond to t h e i r s . For both White and Lowry i n the T h i r t i e s access to "communities" or to "the r e a l language of men" was not at a l l easy to gain. What i s clear i s t h e i r sense i n the T h i r t i e s of the inadequacy of the di a l e c t s -32-of t h e i r own p a r t i c u l a r tribes to the business of writing novels. Reading White's renditions of the conversation of sheep-obsessed graziers or the l e t t e r s of Arthur Lowry to his son, which combine platitudes with sanctimonious-ness, one can see why. The problem for both writers was to f i n d an alternative to the corrupted d i a l e c t s of t h e i r t r i b e s . Lowry's t r i b e was the commercial middle class which was bad enough. That i t was p r o v i n c i a l and non-conformist was unendurable. The language of Lowry's father i s one that has been thoroughly contaminated by u t i l i t a r i a n i s m . His l e t t e r s everywhere emphasize facts and express d i s -trust of fancy i n the form of Lowry's l i t e r a r y e f f o r t s . Arthur Lowry has a habit of making l i s t s and using i t a l i c s to drive his a l l too obvious points home. He has a clear preference for whatever i s useful and measur-able over whatever i s complex, vague, to do with the inner workings of the "soul," a word which causes him evident d i s t r e s s . His language i s f u l l of pious rhetoric and a general slackness of d i c t i o n and phrasing. What vigour the non-conformist t r a d i t i o n with i t s rooting i n the Bible and i n Bunyan might have introduced - 3 3 -into the language of a Liverpool cotton merchant was undermined by Arthur Lowry 1s predominantly V i c t o r i a n and commercial cast of mind. Lowry had none of D.H. Lawrence's advantages i n t h i s matter of the c o l l o q u i a l language of the home. Patrick White had the misfortune that his tr i b e was divided against i t s e l f . He came from a section of the c o l o n i a l landed gentry which wished to eradicate the t a i n t of " c o l o n i a l . " Hence he was educa-ted i n the manner appropriate to a prospective member of the English r u l i n g c l a s s . Thus he was l e f t with the problem that i n A u s t r a l i a he was suspected as an Englishman with a posh accent and i n England he was a l -ways " c o l o n i a l . " Given such an in t e r n a l c o n f l i c t i t i s hardly surprising that h i s s t y l e should take various and sometimes contradictory d i r e c t i o n s . Nor i s i t surprising that i n the T h i r t i e s he should adopt the current enthusiasm for the working class and for using proleta-r i a n speech to add in t e r e s t to his writing. But neither the Australian working-class figures i n Happy Valley (1939) nor the English working-class figures i n The L i v i n g and the Dead are convincing. White i s simply -34-unable to make t h e i r speech l i v e . In the f i c t i o n that grew out of Dollarton and Castle H i l l there i s a wholly new sense of the language. Into Stan Parker's world advertising, jazz, and the cinema barely intrude. In Lowry's f i c t i o n of the Forties and F i f t i e s there i s an obsession with the e f f e c t s of adver t i -sing on s e n s i b i l i t y . By foregrounding the advertising messages, by squaring them o f f i n the text, Lowry empha-sizes t h e i r predatory presence i n modern l i f e : t h i s i s the dominant form i n which language as i t i s now used eats into consciousness. But t h i s squaring o f f of the language i n i t s debased contemporary state also draws attention to an alt e r n a t i v e sense of the language's p o s s i b i l i t i e s which we f i n d r e a l i z e d i n the texts themselves. In "The Forest Path to the Spring" Lowry c a r e f u l l y divests words of the detrit u s they have accumulated i n a u t i l i t a r i a n society. Spring, l i g h t , wood, f i r e -- these words have no use; they serve to please, and, i n some Lawrentian sense, they suggest the connection which Lowry held to e x i s t between man's being and the cosmos. - 3 5 -In the opening scenes of The Tree of Man White sets Stan Parker i n a world that i s meant to r e c a l l that of Homer's heroes. Stan's actions are s u f f i c i e n t i n themselves; he does not need to interpret them. His world i s one of at-homeness between things and s e l f . This f e e l i n g of being at home i n the world allows a sense of intimate connection between words and things, actions and meanings. Stan's world i s commensurate to hi s desires. So long as he i s at the centre of his world Stan i s unaware that language can become a problema-t i c , that a gap can appear between the world of actions and meaning. So long as Stan's actions are wholly unself-conscious t h e i r manifest meaning i s th e i r whole content. They are, thus, not "about" anything, and Stan's world i s whole; In Georg Lukacs' terms White has put Stan i n the epic world of an integrated c i v i l i z a t i o n as d i s t i n c t from the modern broken world whose c h a r a c t e r i s t i c form 3 1 i s the nostalgic epic: the novel. Hence, the e p i c a l q u a l i t y of the writing i n the opening section of the novel. Here the language i s appropriate to a pre-lapsarian world before Stan's discovery of i n t e r i o r i t y . The words tree, f i r e , man, dog do not indicate any fracture between - 3 6 -s e l f and other. That w i l l come l a t e r . Lowry 1s Dollarton and White's farm at Castle H i l l s i g n i f y a desire on the part of both writers to bypass the mechanistic bias of modern s o c i a l organization and to return to a simpler mode of connection that supposedly prevailed when man saw himself not as master of but as part of natural process. As "Eridanus" and " D u r i l g a i , " t h e i r l i t e r a r y transformations, they belong i n a t r a d i -t i o n of romantic organicism. In t h e i r l i t e r a r y versions of the earthly paradise we may glimpse a large part of the reason that White and Lowry l e f t England and s e t t l e d not i n cosmopolitan Paris or New York but i n p r o v i n c i a l , P h i l i s t i n e backwaters. In place of "society" — a large body of anonymous individuals connected only by function -- they wished to put "community" — a small body of individuals organically related to a f a m i l i a r whole. By discovering some such " t r i b e " they hoped to e s t a b l i s h in t h e i r writing a sense of wholeness and connection they f e l t to be fundamentally at odds with the modern world. The question, then, i s what e f f e c t did Canada -37-have on the imagination of Lowry, A u s t r a l i a on the imagi-nation of White? This sounds very l i k e the a r i d question: was Malcolm Lowry a Canadian? And something i n us d e f i n i t e l y protests at t h i s business of n a t i o n a l i t y . What matters, a f t e r a l l , i s not where Lowry wrote Under  the Volcano but what use he made of the language i n doing so. Here, however, we face a greater a r i d i t y than that involved i n expropriating Lowry for Canadian l i t e r a -ture: that of divorcing the question of language from that of place. When White and Lowry l e f t England for good they were seeking some means of connecting d i a l e c t , t r i b e , and place, f e e l i n g these three essentials of the novelist's c r a f t to have some a d r i f t i n contemporary England. At Dollarton and at Castle H i l l these three, at l e a s t for a time, came together i n t h e i r f i c t i o n . This does not make them Canadian or Australian n o v e l i s t s . It means simply that what they were seeking in the f i r s t place was a sense of belonging at a much more l o c a l l e v e l than that of n a t i o n a l i t y . They were seeking a part of the English past as they understood i t which, vanishing as i t was i n England, they believed might s t i l l be in t a c t i n some corner of the globe where modernity had not gone -38-so far as i t had i n the England of the T h i r t i e s . They were both u n t i l they found t h e i r "Eridanuses" expatriate Englishmen rooting through the world i n search of what England had l o s t . - 3 9 -P A R T A Reluctant Modernists: Before the War Complete absence of nostalgia i n a modern writer i s suspect, suggesting complacent fellowship with the main commercial groups. D.W. Harding, "A Note On Nostalgia," i n Scrutiny. -40-I The T h i r t i e s Why should we be at the s t a r t of our two l i v e s when every-thing around us i s losing i t s virtue? How can we grow up when there's nothing l e f t to i n h e r i t , when what we must feed on i s so stale and corrupt? Elizabeth Bowen, The Death of the Heart. -41-One large i n t e l l e c t u a l and emotional atmosphere enfolds writers as d i f f e r e n t as Yeats, E l i o t , Hemingway, and Lawrence, and from t h i s distance what the four are doing seems to look more and more l i k e the same thing. They are mounting a r h e t o r i c a l c r i t i q u e of industrialism; they are prosecuting a perhaps more r i c h l y dramatized and l y r i c i z e d continua-tion of the complaints of Ruskin, Arnold, and M o r r i s . 1 Paul Fussell's placing of the four great post-war modernists beside the eminent Victorians with whose thought and l i t e r a r y methods t h e i r work suggests such a r a d i c a l break i s less shocking than i t ought to be. We are no longer surprised by the conjunction i n the avant-garde writing of the Twenties of experimental method and conservative ideology. It does not seem remarkable that modernism i n English writing should have coexisted with a profound antipathy to modernity. So we do not balk at the placing of Yeats, E l i o t , Hemingway, and Lawrence beside Ruskin, Arnold, and Morris. What separates them i s , of course, considerable: t h e i r a t t i -tudes towards the use of form and language i n l i t e r a r y works. What connects them, however, i s also considerable. They a l l share a nostalgia for a time before commerce and in d u s t r i a l i s m had changed the face of England. They - 4 2 -a r e a l l p a r t o f a l i n e o f r e s i s t a n c e t o a w o r l d i n w h i c h th e o l d " n a t u r a l " bonds between man and man, man and t h i n g s , had been r e p l a c e d by t h e " a r t i f i c i a l " bonds o f money and machinery. The G r e a t War w h i c h seems t o s t a n d as a sudden chasm between t h e V i c t o r i a n p e r i o d and t h e modern one d i d n o t , a f t e r a l l , c r e a t e t h e modern w o r l d o u t o f n o t h i n g . I t m e r e l y a c c e l e r a t e d t h e p r o c e s s o f the d i s i n t e g r a t i o n o f t r a d i t i o n a l forms and p r a c t i c e s t h a t the i n d u s t r i a l r e v o l u t i o n had i n i t i a t e d . R u s k i n and Lawrence, A r n o l d and E l i o t , M o r r i s and Y e a t s -- t h e y a r e c o n n e c t e d above a l l by a p a s s i o n a t e d i s l i k e o f t h e mass w o r l d engendered by commerce and t e c h n o l o g y i n t h e n i n e t e e n t h c e n t u r y and b r u t a l l y d e l i v e r e d by t h e G r e a t War. In t h i s l i n e o f r e s i s t a n c e t o i n d u s t r i a l i s m and i t s e f f e c t s b o t h on n a t u r e and s o c i e t y we may p l a c e , somewhat b e l a t e d l y , P a t r i c k White and Malcolm Lowry. T h i s becomes most a p p a r e n t a f t e r t h e Second War when we f i n d them a t C a s t l e H i l l and D o l l a r t o n r e s p e c t i v e l y m i l k i n g a cow, b u i l d i n g a p i e r , o b s e r v i n g t h e s e a s o n s , and w r i t i n g works w h i c h b o t h c e l e b r a t e a s i m p l e l i f e w i t h i n n a t u r e and mourn t h e p a s s i n g o f such a l i f e from - 4 3 -the world. Here we see t h e i r place i n that d i r e c t l i n e of prophetic voices which stretches i n English writing from Blake to D.H. Lawrence and which opposes i n d u s t r i a l society from the standpoint of organicist nostalgia. That i s to say, the protest against the mechanical nature of modern l i f e which we f i n d i n Wordsworth, Ruskin, Hardy and Law-rence rests on a nostalgia for a s e t t l e d , r u r a l way of l i f e which remained i n t a c t i n England u n t i l the eighteenth century and i n which, supposedly, man was organically connected to nature and to a community. Lowry i s the clearest i n h e r i t o r of t h i s t r a d i t i o n i n English l e t t e r s a f t e r Lawrence. We may, then, with reasonable confidence place the writings of Lowry and White i n the immediate post-war period. The Tree of Man (1957) and "The Forest Path to the Spring" (1961) complete a l i n e of f i c t i o n a l mournings for the t r a d i t i o n a l "organic" English countryside which runs through North and South (1855), The M i l l on the Floss (1860), Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891), and Women in  Love (1920). I say "English" countryside although The  Tree of Man i s set i n A u s t r a l i a and "The Forest Path to the Spring" i n Canada because White and Lowry simply - 4 4 -transpose parts of the English past to these far-flung corners of the globe. Patrick White and Malcolm Lowry, then, have extended the l i n e of prophetic org a n i c i s t nos-t a l g i a from the between-the-wars period i n which the l a s t traces of the old organic England were expunged from the countryside into the post-war period when, according to F.R. Leavis, even the memory of the old order had been l o s t . This i s by no means the sum of t h e i r achieve-ments. In f a c t , the l i n e , of a n t i - i n d u s t r i a l sentiment in English writing has been so broad and so di f f u s e that l i t t l e i s accomplished by placing within i t writers whom we had thought at odds. Our understanding of T.S. E l i o t i s scarcely advanced by the observation that, l i k e William Morris and Malcolm Lowry, he "mount'[ed] a r h e t o r i c a l c r i t i q u e of industrialism." One must ask what forms these c r i t i q u e s took. Can we say, for instance, that Hemingway and E l i o t employed a rhetoric in the same manner as Ruskin or Morris? Moreover, we must allow for a greater degree of i d e o l o g i c a l complexity and ambivalence i n major writers than i s suggested by the observation that they share i n a s p i r i t of resistance -45-to industrialism. A writer's ideology i s never without contradictions and surprises; i t i s never simply the neat c i r c l e T h i r t i e s l e f t i s t c r i t i c s l i k e d to draw around a writer's thought, the r a d i i of t h e i r compasses set by a narrowly Marxist determinism. " ' L i f e , ' wrote Montagu Slater i n The Lef t Review, "equals the class struggle," 2 as though that were the end of the matter. The resistance to in d u s t r i a l i s m that we f i n d i n the writings of Patrick White and Malcolm Lowry i s complicated by t h e i r experience as young novelists i n the England of the T h i r t i e s . In t h i s period, they were faced with the problem of choosing among the squabbling ideologies, s t y l e s , tones, cliques, and movements that made up the l i t e r a r y scene. At Cambridge i n the late Twenties and early T h i r t i e s - Lowry went up i n 1929, White i n 19 32 — dandies, hearties, and s o c i a l i s t s com-peted for the attention of undergraduates with t h e i r s t r u t t i n g s , t h e i r roarings, and t h e i r rantings. The ghost of the Nineties.lingered i n Housman's rooms, below which a young Patrick White waited hoping for a v i s i t a t i o n . The Georgians were l a i d to rest i n Granta i n 1929, but were to require further exorcizing (White -46-was s t i l l very much a Georgian when he published his f i r s t t h i n, private volume of poems, The Ploughman and Other  Poems, i n 1935. 3 "Modernism" was i d o l i z e d , c r i t i c i z e d , condemned outright, envied, and emulated throughout the decade. Here was a ghost that would not go away. In the late Twenties and early T h i r t i e s , E l i o t ' s influence dominated the advanced undergraduates at Cambridge. We may see his influence behind the poetry i n the r i v a l undergraduate l i t e r a r y magazines. The Venture and Experiment, which flourished i n the years i n which Lowry was at Cambridge. Lowry published i n both the more experimental and modernist Experiment and the more conservative Venture, although he c l e a r l y favoured the former (neither magazine, i t should be noted, was as advanced or as conservative as my d i s t i n c t i o n and Experiment's rhetoric might suggest). In the course of the T h i r t i e s , i t became increasingly fashionable on the l i t e r a r y far l e f t to vituperate against E l i o t ' s i d e o l o g i c a l l y conservative form of modernism. In 1938, E l i o t was accorded a mock obituary i n New Verse where the Auden poets published and where i n the same year White placed an E l i o t - i n s p i r e d poem.4 -47-As l a t e as 1949 John Davenport, Jack Lindsay, and Randall Swingler, a l l prominent T h i r t i e s l i t e r a r y l e f t i s t s , were attempting to lay to rest E l i o t ' s i r r i t a t i n g ghost i n an e d i t o r i a l note i n an issue of Arena which includes a short story by Lowry written i n the T h i r t i e s : T radition and culture: the words ring l i k e a cracked b e l l ; and indeed the dreary r i t u a l reminds one of a middle-class funeral, even down to the sherry. The loved one died of sleeping sickness -- encephalitis lethargia, caused by the T.S.E. - T.S.E. fly.5 Such a strong desire to have a l i v i n g author buried suggests a nervousness on the part of the would-be grave-diggers. The stubborn prestige of E l i o t , i n spite of his p o l i t i c a l heresies, i s confirmed by such adolescent r e b e l l i o n s . C r i t i c i s m thrived i n the Cambridge of the T h i r t i e s , and the most i n f l u e n t i a l c r i t i c s placed E l i o t firmly at the centre of any understanding of modern poetics. I.A. Richards, F.R. Leavis, and William Empson a l l have a bearing on the work of White and Lowry, although neither n o v e l i s t set out systematically to shape his novels according to t h e i r c r i t i c a l desiderata. -48-Richards' notion that the problem of the absence of r e l i -gious b e l i e f i s a formal problem i n modern poetry, has an obvious bearing on our understanding of the function of mysticism i n the l a t e r work of both writers. Mysticism in Under the Volcano and i n Voss (1957) serves as a means of c o n t r o l l i n g the immense disorder that i s modern l i f e . "The mystery and the poetry" of which White speaks i n "The Prodigal Son" (1955) i s a means of holding together in a work of art a disintegrating experience: the ugliness, 7 f u t i l i t y , and banality of contemporary l i f e . White has simply transposed the wasteland v i s i o n of post-World-War-I England to that of A u s t r a l i a i n the F i f t i e s . There i s a clear connection here to "the mythic method" of The Waste Land (1922) which Richards helped to explain p to the young writers of the T h i r t i e s . William Empson's witty notion that the p r o l e t a r i a t served T h i r t i e s l e f t i s t writers i n place of the peasantry of pastoral, that "the middle-class i n t e l l e c t u a l who joins the communist party i s j o i n i n g the shepherds," has an obvious bearing on White's method of turning Australian small farmers into l i t e r a r y peasants and Lowry's r u s t i f i c a t i o n of the g fishermen at Dollarton. -49-At Cambridge throughout the T h i r t i e s the t r a d i t i o n a l "sporadic warfare" i n the u n i v e r s i t i e s "between athlete and aesthete" continued to simmer."'"0 Coming from p h i l i s t i n e backgrounds which they detested equally, White and Lowry could f e e l l i t t l e fellow f e e l -ing with the athletes, or "hearties." Lowry, however, who had a deep-rooted horror of effeminacy, found the muscular, drunken, brawly, and sporting aspects of heartiness a t t r a c t i v e . E f f e c t i v e l y , he renovated h e a r t i -ness by s t r i p p i n g i t of i t s p h i l i s t i n i s m and substituting the seaman for the country squire as i t s model of dress and mannerism. White had none of Lowry's repugnance against effeminacy; hence his a t t r a c t i o n to aestheticism was unequivocal. He adopted, at least by his Ebury Street days i n the l a t e T h i r t i e s , the manner of the dandy. In his early writing, we see, though not unequivocally, the a t t r a c t i o n to the mandarin style of the Twenties aesthetes that went with dandyism. By 1933 there was already a p o l i t i c a l l y charged climate at Cambridge. The p o l i t i c a l quietism of the Twenties was giving place to a vogue for left-wing p o l i -t i c s and the same undergraduates who had cheerfully -50-strike-broken i n 1926 were now schoolmasters with new degrees and newly Marxist p o l i t i c s . An i n t e r e s t i n p o l i t i c s that went beyond Conservative club b a l l s was no longer considered boring. In the course of the T h i r t i e s the claim of p o l i t i c s on the attention of young English writers became more and more pressing. Poets l i k e C e c i l Day Lewis and Stephen Spender f e l t obliged to "retreat from l i b e r a l i s m " and j o i n the Communist Party.1''" Young undergraduates l i k e the poet John Cornford and the Marxist c r i t i c Christopher Cauldwell went to Spain on the L o y a l i s t side and were k i l l e d . S i g n i f i c a n t l y , t h e i r deaths took place "abroad"; at home, despite the fierceness of the rhetoric, the stakes were not so high. In C e c i l Day Lewis' Starting Point (1937) and i n White's The L i v i n g and The Dead (1941) characters leave for Spain and probable death as the novels close. On the c o n t i -nent "the hard, ferocious theologies of n a t i o n a l i s t i c 1 o and revolutionary i d o l a t r y " took root; . i n England at the u n i v e r s i t i e s young middle-class i n t e l l e c t u a l s affected varying degrees of commitment to ideology, usually on the l e f t . -51-There i s inescapably an a i r of unreality about the l e f t i s t p o l i t i c s of English upper-middle-class writers and i n t e l l e c t u a l s i n the T h i r t i e s . I t i s not simply a question of t h e i r safety, t h e i r lack of immediate involve-ment i n the business of k i l l i n g and dying by which on the continent p o l i t i c a l matters were s e t t l e d . In the F i r s t War Graves, Sassoon, and Wilfred Owen had painstakingly learned a language of r e a l i t y appropriate to the trenches and so separated themselves from the romantic enthusiasms and empty rhetoric with which Rupert Brooke had entered the war. In Spain, John Cornford repeated Brooke's pattern (admittedly he had l i t t l e time i n which to learn Gravesian truths and he did write one fine Auden-13 influenced poem on the war). More t e l l i n g l y , George Orwell f a i l e d to f i n d a language adequate to the sense of r e a l i t y he undoubtedly gained i n Spain. No-one struggled more determinedly than Orwell to write honest-l y and empirically about p o l i t i c a l events, and Homage to  Catalonia i s widely held to go ri g h t to the heart of the Spanish confusion by i t s attention to p a r t i c u l a r s and the d i r e c t force of i t s c o l l o q u i a l language. Yet at the c r u c i a l moment, describing the ba t t l e scene, Orwell - 5 2 -f a l l s back on the language of public-schoolboy slang. "L"* There i s scarcely more sense of r e a l i t y here than i n the language of an Eton schoolboy describing an O.T.C. bat t l e i n the school magazine. Grahame Greene describes the problem thus: We were a generation brought up on adventure stories who had missed the . enormous disillusionment of the F i r s t War; so we went looking for adventure. Green i s speaking about the impulse behind the T h i r t i e s fad of t r a v e l books, but he touches on a deeper dilemma. How were these young bourgeois from public schools and Oxbridge to touch not "adventure," the s t u f f of boys' fantasies, but " r e a l i t y , " the world of men? As Christo-pher Isherwood has pointed out, many among his generation f e l t themselves to be not quite men, to have missed or f a i l e d the decisive "Test" of manhood posed by the F i r s t War. In t h e i r p o l i t i c s , i n t h e i r enthusiasm for the p r o l e t a r i a t , i n the romantic obsession with Spain, the writers of "the Auden generation" revealed t h e i r view of themselves as inadequate, i n e f f e c t u a l , removed from the hard, clear d e t a i l of the r e a l . -53-Patrick White and Malcolm Lowry share the common sense of unreality, of being i s o l a t e d by clas s , education, and speech from the hard world of h i s t o r i c a l facts, that we find among the young middle-class writers of the.Thir-t i e s . Both novelists adopt i n t h e i r f i c t i o n a formal orientation that i n a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y T h i r t i e s fashion attempts to address t h i s problem: they follow the journey of a young bourgeois i n t e l l e c t u a l away from his s e l f -enclosed world of s e n s i b i l i t y towards the " r e a l " world o f things and actions. This i s the form adopted by W.H. Auden i n The Orators (1932), by Lowry i n Ultramarine (1933), by Edward Upward i n Journey to the Border (193 8), and by White i n The Li v i n g and The Dead (1941). There i s , of course, no s p e c i f i c formal method which connects these four writers. They are linked by th e i r common problem as bourgeois of finding a way out of the s e l f as under-stood by the l i b e r a l t r a d i t i o n into the h i s t o r i c a l world for which the T h i r t i e s l i t e r a r y - l e f t f e l t a conscience-stricken a t t r a c t i o n . Ultramarine, written before the d i s i l l u s i o n i n g events of the l a t e T h i r t i e s , i s prescient i n i t s scepticism about the a b i l i t y of bourgeois i n t e l l e c -tuals to step outside the l i m i t s drawn around t h e i r consciousness by class and to touch the " r e a l " world -54-of the working c l a s s . We must avoid easy generalizations about Th i r -t i e s writing and i t s r e l a t i o n to history. The viewpoint which asserts that "the c r u c i a l point of difference bet-ween the writers of the T h i r t i e s and t h e i r immediate predecessors has more to do with history (content) than 17 with l i t e r a t u r e (technique)" i s s i m p l i s t i c . This view i s predicated upon the assumption that i n good writing content may be divorced from technique. The view i s too f a c i l e and has too often been attacked to be once again consigned to the dust-bin of l i t e r a r y history. To the extent that we may generalize about the T h i r t i e s — and most such generalizations work by ignoring a l l influences in the decade other than Auden's — we may say that much of the serious new writing i n the period was directed at finding formal strategies ("techniques") by which to explore not only the impact of history ("content") on consciousness but also the impact of consciousness on history i t s e l f . This, of course, suggests a s h i f t from the more unabashed concern of the writers of the Twenties to devise a battery of techniques for pursuing consciousness into the obscure regions where i t i s fur-- 5 5 -thest removed from history. But i t does not suggest that l i t e r a t u r e was jettisoned i n the i n t e r e s t of preserving the b a l l a s t of content. New Verse, which published the best of the new writers, maintained a consistently high standard and, although Auden and Spender set the tone of i t s contributors, i t s editor, Geoffrey Grigson, recognized the l i t e r a r y merits of r i g h t i s t s l i k e Pound and Lewis. New Writing, whose e d i t o r i a l p o l i c y was avowedly l e f t i s t and which went out of the way to publish the works of foreign communists and l o c a l workers, generally gave prominence to writers l i k e Christopher Isherwood evidently on the grounds of t h e i r attention to form and s t y l e rather than the purity of t h e i r p o l i t i c s . The L e f t Review, to which C e c i l Day Lewis went over out of communist enthu-siasm, was c e r t a i n l y g u i l t y of allowing p o l i t i c a l p a r t i -sanship to i n t e r f e r e with l i t e r a r y discrimination. But The Left Review did not determine the l i t e r a r y p o l i t i c a l tone of the decade; i t merely added an important stress. Countering that stress throughout the decade was E l i o t ' s C r i t e r i o n , and somewhere uneasily in the middle was Leavis 1 Scrutiny. -56-In other words, the T h i r t i e s was probably no more homogeneous than any other decade. There was, i t i s ..true, a d i s t i n c t i v e tone to the decade central to which was a new i n t e r e s t among bourgeois writers i n left-wing p o l i t i c s . But also important in the setting of t h i s tone was the movement we know as "modernism." The young writers of the T h i r t i e s were purposefully modern. There was no attempt to revive the V i c t o r i a n novel or Georgian poetry (even J u l i a n B e l l ' s preference for the eighteenth century has a modern ring i n what i t negates, romanticism, i f not i n what i t aff i r m s ) . These writers chose to pursue the point at which consciousness entangles i t s e l f i n h i s t o r y . This was a pursuit at the l e v e l of form, not of content, and one i n which White and Lowry part i c i p a t e d . The important s h i f t that occurred i n T h i r t i e s writing was that away from the aestheticism of the Twenties towards a revived realism, towards the use of the verna-cular, and towards h i s t o r i c a l kinds of discourse. This was a movement away from the emphasis on s e n s i b i l i t y we f i n d i n the novels of V i r g i n i a Woolf. But i t was not seen by Auden or Spender or Isherwood as a retreat from modernism. They f e l t , not unjustly, that they were -57-building on modernism, putting i t s techniques to t h e i r own purposes. Woolf herself followed her own i n s t i n c t s i n the T h i r t i e s , extending the modernist-symbolist l i n e , and her work i s as much a part of the T h i r t i e s as i s that of Auden or Day Lewis or Waugh or Greene. Woolf actually sponsored many of the young l e f t i s t poets i n the production of t h e i r f i r s t c o l l e c t i v e magazine/mani-festo, New Signatures (1932). The New Signature poets had none of the Bloomsbury reverence for "states of consciousness," but Mrs. Woolf, whose views on poetry were as conservative as her views on f i c t i o n were ad-vanced, does them an i n j u s t i c e when she chides Auden for his allegiance to "raw f a c t . " ! ^ Auden and his followers were no more i n d i f f e r e n t to s u b j e c t i v i t y than was Woolf: " a l l genuine poetry," wrote Auden, " i s i n a sense the formation of private spheres out of a public chaos."19 Mrs. Woolf could hardly have disagreed. The Auden writers were merely more g u i l t y about t h e i r subjectivism than Woolf, more reluctant to give i t unchecked expression. In the early T h i r t i e s , Woolf's f i c t i o n was moving further into the s e l f , pursuing i n a high, l y r i c a l prose, the elusive " r e a l i t y " within. Meanwhile, Christopher -58-Isherwood was d e v e l o p i n g a n a r r a t i v e method t h a t appears t o g i v e v e r y l i t t l e away about t h e i n n e r s t u f f o f s u b j e c t -i v i t y . Isherwood's n a r r a t o r s have a n a i v e t y t h a t h o l l o w s them o u t , makes them w h o l l y r e c e p t i v e t o e x t e r n a l e v e n t s . And Isherwood's s t y l e has a t r a n s p a r e n c y t h a t causes h i s language t o e f f a c e i t s e l f b e f o r e what i t r e c o r d s . I s h e r -wood uses a language t h a t i s w i t h o u t l i t e r a r i n e s s , a r t i f i c i a l i t y , o r l y r i c i s m . Y e t W i l l i a m Bradshaw, t h e n a r r a t o r o f Mr. N o r r i s Changes T r a i n s (1935), i s no more an i n h a b i t a n t o f t h e w o r l d o f "raw f a c t " t han a r e the c h a r a c t e r s i n Woolf's The Waves (1931). Bradshaw i s a n e u r o t i c and i s o l a t e d young E n g l i s h b o u r g e o i s , t r a p p e d by h i s s e l f - i m p o s e d r o l e as o b s e r v e r , whose dangerous o b j e c t i v i t y c o n c e a l s an u n d e r l y i n g c o m p l i c i t y w i t h t h e demented and s u r r e a l w o r l d o f l a t e Weimar Germany. The v e r y s i m p l i c i t y o f Isherwood's s t y l e draws a t t e n t i o n t o t h e d u p l i c i t y and s t r a n g e n e s s o f t h e w o r l d he r e c o r d s . H i s s t y l e — f o r even t h e a t t e m p t t o a r r i v e a t s t y l e l e s s -ness i s a k i n d o f s t y l e -- i s t h e a n t i t h e s i s o f a Grosz c a r t o o n w h i c h we so r e a d i l y a s s o c i a t e w i t h t h e p e r i o d Isherwood r e c o r d s . Grosz e x a g g e r a t e s , c a r i c a t u r e s --r a t h e r l i k e t h e c a r t o o n s o f w e a l t h y d i n n e r p a r t i e s we -59-f i n d i n The Left Review -- because the events he deals with have t h e i r own exaggerated, surreal quality and be-cause he works i n a German t r a d i t i o n of expressionist d i s t o r t i o n . Isherwood underplays, and the same events force themselves through his cool prose l i k e sudden, s t a r t l i n g explosions: insidious, because unexpected, assaults on the reader. Isherwood's understated s t y l e i s very English. In a sense, he i s preserving his public-schoolboy calm i n the face of the beastly sort of conduct one might expect of foreigners. Isherwood's distaste for the excessiveness of German popu l a r - l i t e r a r y s t y l e i s also English: "the murder reporters — the jazz writers had 20 i n f l a t e d the German language beyond r e c a l l . " He himself eschews the j o u r n a l i s t i c habit of allowing con-tent to dictate tone. His prose s t y l e i s exactly c a l -culated: i t i s neither j o u r n a l i s t i c nor "mandarin" --that i s , concerned with i t s own performance, over elabo-rate. His narrator's manner i s cool and subdued so that we f e e l the force of the a t r o c i t i e s that are part of German l i f e as they well up suddenly into his detached consciousness, s t r i k i n g at h i s , and our, unreachability. -60-By perfecting his stripped s t y l e , his unobtru-sive narrative manner, Isherwood avoids the mandarin detachment of Woolf and the sloppiness of j o u r n a l i s t i c prose, both of which he sees as inadequate to the peculiar-l y f a n t a s t i c tenor of events. Isherwood's prose i n t h i s novel i s a superb medium for the rendering of the h o r r i -f i c p o l i t i c a l events of the T h i r t i e s . Isherwood's own prose avoids the dangers i t courts. Mr. Norris i s a work of f i c t i o n , not merely an h i s t o r i c a l l y accurate, impartial account. It has the compression and i n t e n s i t y , the attention to form, that we demand i n the novel. In the middle and late T h i r t i e s , documentary went a long way to replacing l i t e r a r y realism i n English prose writing. H i s t o r i c a l kinds of discourse served increasingly among English prose writers to record 21 the enormity of p o l i t i c a l events. Neither White nor Lowry succumbed to t h i s kind of writing. Their commit-ment was to imaginative p r o s e - f i c t i o n , not to journalism or history. They wanted, of course, to reg i s t e r in t h e i r f i c t i o n the impact of history on the consciousness of the i n d i v i d u a l and to trace the movement of consciousness, however t e n t a t i v e l y , out towards the a c t u a l i t y of -61-p o l i t i c a l events behind the jerky, abstract stream of newsreel images. Isherwood's kind of prose was not to t h e i r purposes. They needed a s t y l e more openly d i f f i -c u l t , more layered i n Lowry's case, more mandarin i n White's. And they needed to master a variety of tech-niques which they could apply i n t h e i r f i c t i o n more self-consciously than Isherwood applies techniques to hi s . Both novelists required formal strategies, what Lowry c a l l s "design-governing postures," s p e c i f i c to t h e i r understandings of the relations between the inner world of consciousness and the outer world of things and 22 actions. They sought some formal means of rec o n c i l i n g an antagonism i n the modern English novel between these two worlds. In the middle T h i r t i e s when they began to publish t h e i r early writing the pendulum which describes the alternations i n prestige of these two worlds seemed to have lodged v i o l e n t l y at one extreme: that which asserted the h i s t o r i c a l understanding of man's being. Novelists increasingly were turning to reportage and tr a v e l - w r i t i n g . Poets were anxious to eject the timid, Prufrockian s e n s i b i l i t i e s of bourgeois i n t e l l e c t u a l s -62-out of t h e i r self-enclosed universes into the r e a l . i J Elyot Standish i n White's The L i v i n g and The Dead i s a somewhat belated representative figure of t h i s type: he i s Prufrock seen through the eyes of an h i s t o r i c a l l y -minded, p o l i t i c a l l y conscience-stricken, T h i r t i e s writer. Dana H i l l i o t , , the hero of Lowry's Ultramarine, i s another of those T h i r t i e s bourgeois i n t e l l e c t u a l s self-consciously seeking a way out of his neurotic preoccupations into the rough, rea l world of men and action. Looking back on t h i s period i n a 1940 essay, "Inside the Whale," George Orwell blames the influence of p o l i t i c s on T h i r t i e s novelists for the poverty of t h e i r 24 productions. In t h i s essay, Orwell discloses his own unexpected a t t r a c t i o n to the p o l i t i c a l i ndifferentism of the Twenties and to the n o v e l i s t he considers to represent t h i s tendency i n the T h i r t i e s , Henry M i l l e r . Orwell means that the aestheticism of the Twenties produced works more l i k e l y to survive than the p o l i t i c a l l y conscious T h i r t i e s . He himself had attempted unsuccessfully to work symbolist and modernist techniques into his early f i c t i o n and had only lapsed into realism and h i s t o r i c a l reportage when 25 these experiments had proved unworkable. Orwell, then, -63-set out to be both h i s t o r i c a l and modernist. Unable to assimilate modernism to his e s s e n t i a l l y r e a l i s t i c talent, he turned rel u c t a n t l y to h i s t o r i c a l prose (Homage to  Catalonia), Edwardian realism (Coming Up for A i r , 1939), and, a f t e r the war, to the moral fable. In "Inside the Whale" Orwell reads his own f a i l u r e s back into the novel-writing of the decade. Orwell i s correct i n saying that the p o l i t i c a l l y conscious T h i r t i e s did not produce novels of the q u a l i t y of the p o l i t i c a l l y q u i e t i s t Twenties. But he i s wrong — prompted by his own quirky p o l i t i c a l conscience and his own l i m i t a t i o n s as a n o v e l i s t — i n a t t r i b u t i n g t h i s f a l l i n g o f f i n q u a l i t y unreservedly to p o l i t i c s . The Communist Party i n the T h i r t i e s never exercized the absolute hegemony i n l i t e r a r y p o l i t i c s which he ascribes 2 6 to i t . Nor were T h i r t i e s novelists simply seduced en masse away from t h e i r duty to- formal perfection by the harpies of ideology. The novel i n England i n the T h i r t i e s moved towards realism, h i s t o r i c i s m , and even at times towards p o l i t i c a l l y motivated didacticism. But t h i s generalization must allow for so many notable exceptions, by novelists as diverse as V i r g i n i a Woolf -64-and Evelyn Waugh, that i t i s unworkable. Davenport, Swingler, and Lindsay, somewhat belatedly but no less fervently, spoke for a tendency i n T h i r t i e s English writing when they wrote that they "disbelieve[d] i n the 27 divorce of art from society. In doing so, they spoke for The Left Review and for communists l i k e Montagu Slater. But they did not speak for the majority of T h i r t i e s bour-geois l e f t i s t s i f t h e i r statement may be taken as a c a l l to writers to neglect formal questions i n the interests of s o c i a l ones. Auden preached a di d a c t i c , s o c i a l l y a c t i v i s t poetics, but his own poetry i n the T h i r t i e s was equivocal, obscure, t e c h n i c a l l y d i f f i c u l t : what the s o c i a l i s t r e a l i s t s would have c a l l e d " f o r m a l i s t i c . " Stephen Spender joined the Communist Party at one point, b r i e f l y and equivocally, but he was always aware that p o l i t i c a l correctness and good writing were not the same thing-. The problem for serious novelists i n the T h i r t i e s was not that they were overly concerned with p o l i t i c s but that they were overshadowed by the great modernists who had preceded them. Greene, Isherwood, Upward, Maugham, Henry Green, Rex Warner — none of these -65-novelists produced a Ulysses or a Women in Love. None produced a novel as l i k e l y to l a s t as The Waves (1931), The Years (19 37), Finnegan's Wake (19 39), or even Wyndham Lewis' Revenge for Love (1937). They represent a minor l i n e , but not a n e g l i g i b l e one. Their novels suffer l i t t l e by comparison with those of Aldous Huxley or the Sitwel l s , for instance. I t was these minor novelists who established the tone of the decade i n f i c t i o n . This tone saw man as a s o c i a l and h i s t o r i c a l being but there was no movement in the T h i r t i e s to return to the j o u r n a l i s t i c kind of novel-writing represented by Wells and Bennett. Their major achievement was less i n what they produced than i n what they made possible. I t was the h i s t o r i c a l consciousness, even the p o l i t i c a l consciousness, of the T h i r t i e s which made possible Under the Volcano. It remained for Lowry to reconcile the competing claims of history and modernism, a r e c o n c i l i a t i o n which no English n o v e l i s t i n the T h i r t i e s was able to achieve. The T h i r t i e s was the c r u c i a l formative period i n the development of both White and Lowry as n o v e l i s t s . In t h i s period, they assimilated, without ever quite committing themselves to, the p r e v a i l i n g l i t e r a r y and - 6 6 -p o l i t i c a l tone. They took from the T h i r t i e s not only the preoccupation with h i s t o r i c a l events but also the mood of longing for an organic past which had not died with Lawrence i n English c u l t u r a l thinking. It i s t h i s ground-ing of t h e i r thought i n a s p e c i f i c a l l y English ideology that prevents t h e i r f i c t i o n from being rea d i l y assumed by the modernist current which i s resolutely i n t e r n a t i o n a l i s t and which never strenuously took root i n the English novel. In the T h i r t i e s , the voice of organicism was more muted than i n the Twenties because of the resolutely "progressive" tenor of the l a t t e r decade. With fascism on the continent so loudly on the side of the i n s t i n c t u a l and the organic, l e f t i s t i n t e l l e c t u a l s were understandably reluctant to follow Lawrence into b a t t l e against a mecha-n i c a l England. It did not help Lawrence's cause that, as Stephen Spender notes i n The Destructive Element (1935), his theories had been "seized on by the Nazis, who h a i l Lawrence as the English writer, whose theories are most sympathetic to them." In the T h i r t i e s , the a l l u r e of the i r r a t i o n a l had faded. It was more fashionable to adopt a Marxist rationalism than a Lawrentian instinctualism. Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis, whose r i g h t i s t p o l i t i c s had -67-not seemed outrageous i n the Twenties, by t h e i r propagan-dizing for H i t l e r and Mussolini and for the cause of c u l t u r a l organicism made themselves the p o l i t i c a l pariahs of the T h i r t i e s , although Geoffrey Grigson's respect for Lewis as a writer meant that he had an occasional forum i n New Verse along with Auden and A l l o t t and Spender. Lewis, who l a t e r decently changed his mind about Hitlerism, i n his notorious H i t l e r (1931) defended the perverse ideology of national socialism i n terms of i t s commitment to a r a c i a l organicism: We f e e l the love and understanding of blood-brothers, of one culture, children of the same t r a d i t i o n s , whose deepest s o c i a l i n t e r e s t s , when a l l i s said and done, are one: that i s the only sane and r e a l i s t i c journey i n the midst of a dis i n t e g r a t i n g world. That, as I interpret i t , i s the national s o c i a l i s t doctrine of B l u t s g e f u h l . 2 ^ The l e f t i s t c r i t i q u e of t h i s version of Nazi ideology i s one that can e a s i l y be turned against D.H. Lawrence and T.S. E l i o t : "The 'culture' of the t r a d i t i o n a l i s t s i s e n t i r e l y synthetic, the r e s u l t of nostalgia for an imagi-nary p a s t . " 3 0 The l e f t i s t i n t e l l e c t u a l s of the T h i r t i e s f e l t l i k e Lewis, Pound, Lawrence, and E l i o t , that they inhabited "a disintegrating world." Spender was l a t e r -68-to write that he used the word " p o l i t i c a l " i n t h i s period to signal "a f a t a l i t y which [he] f e l t to be overtaking 31 our c i v i l i z a t i o n . " However, i n order not to despair over the wreckage of contemporary c i v i l i z a t i o n he chose to look not to the reactionary myth of an organic c u l t u r a l wholeness i d e a l l y located i n the past but to a s o c i a l i s t future. There i s not the sense i n T h i r t i e s writing that we f i n d i n the Twenties of history as chaos and decline which can only be escaped by retreating into the perfect orders of art or the past. The writers of the T h i r t i e s , those at l e a s t of the Auden group, were i n c l i n e d to accept the Marxist f a i t h that history can be ordered by human action and they went te n t a t i v e l y about the business of e f f e c t i n g such orderings through t h e i r a rt. White and Lowry, although i t seems odd to think of them i n such a context, f a l l belatedly into "the Auden generation." They too were born between 1904 and 1915, were educated at public schools and Oxbridge. They too were moved to contemplate the s o c i a l i s t future which, given the collapse of the l i b e r a l democracies i n the face of f a s c i s t aggression, was widely held to be -69-desirable, i f not i n e v i t a b l e . It was partly the f e e l i n g that socialism offered the only viable alternative to fascism and partly a t y p i c a l l y T h i r t i e s confusion of the p r o l e t a r i a t with the peasantry which led White and Lowry to turn to the working class as a possible way out of a dying bourgeois culture. Like other middle-class writers in the T h i r t i e s White and Lowry approached the working class and ..its:, putative future with misgivings and evasions. Auden 1s "A Summer Night" (1934) i s a characteris-t i c a l l y evasive treatment of the coming s o c i a l i s t England: the poem i s more intent on the bourgeois freedoms that might be l o s t than on whatever might be gained. Even a doctrinaire Marxist l i k e Edward Upward, who shows in his p o l i t i c a l parable Journey to the Border that he i s con-vinced of the rightness and i n e v i t a b i l i t y of Marxism for contemporary bourgeois i n t e l l e c t u a l s , gives few indications of what a Marxist revolution would actually achieve i n s o c i a l terms. C h a r a c t e r i s t i c a l l y , Upward i s primarily interested i n Marxism as a panacea for a troubled, intensely i s o l a t e d consciousness which cannot distinguish between fantasy and r e a l i t y . Marxism for Upward's hero provides -70-a bridge to the r e a l world not a means of changing that world. However short-lived or equivocal was the l e f t i s m of Auden's generation, i t was t h i s group that established the l i t e r a r y - p o l i t i c a l tone of the T h i r t i e s . Auden and p o l i t i c a l poetry has become as fixed an idea of the T h i r t i e s as the black-and-white photographs of the Jarrow marchers or the jerky newsreels of goose-stepping f a s c i s t s . And we think of the kind of poetry Auden i n i t i a t e d as being not only p o l i t i c a l but also sympathetic to techno-logy i n a way that distinguishes i t sharply from the poetry of the Twenties. The Lawrentian view that indus-t r i a l i z a t i o n , by despoiling the countryside, had broken the organic bonds of the old order and savagely degraded English l i f e was not compatible with the new tone. Auden and h i s followers looked on i n d u s t r i a l landscapes with a c q u i s i t i v e rather than antagonistic eyes: here was a source of images for a new poetic. E l i o t had employed the imagery of modern urban l i f e i n the symbolist manner: to evoke states of soul. Lawrence had imaged the eruptions of industry across the face of England. In the T h i r t i e s , -71-there i s a s h i f t i n the a t t i t u d e s towards technology i m p l i e d by the use of i t s imagery. Much of the imagery of decay we f i n d i n T h i r t i e s poetry i s at t a c h e d not, as i n Lawrence, to the c o u n t r y s i d e a s s a u l t e d by i n d u s t r i a l i s m but to f a c t o r i e s and farms made i d l e by d e p r e s s i o n . The new a t t i t u d e i s very n e a t l y caught by Anthony Powell i n At Lady M o l l y ' s (1958): "You have a n i c e landscape here"... "Do you t h i n k i t n i c e ? ... You know these days I s c a r c e l y n o t i c e such t h i n g s . Once I might have done — should have done, c e r t a i n l y , i n my romantic p e r i o d . I suppose by " n i c e " you mean undeveloped. Give me something a b i t more p r a c t i c a l . You can keep your p i c t u r e s q u e f e a t u r e s as f a r as I am concerned. I f E n g l i s h a g r i c u l t u r e was or g a n i z e d on a r a t i o n a l -- I do not even say a j u s t -- b a s i s , I dare say there might be something to be s a i d f o r the view from t h i s window. As i t i s , I would much r a t h e r be l o o k i n g a t a w e l l - d e s i g n e d power s t a t i o n . Perhaps, as being more r u r a l , I should say a row of s i l o s . 3 2 To gauge t h i s new mood we may compare Lawrence's "The Triumph o f the Machine" (1929) i n which "mechanical man," having raped the n a t u r a l world, reaps apocalypse w i t h the poems of Auden and Spender from the e a r l y T h i r t i e s . In Auden's "Consider" (19 32) we f i n d " s i l t e d harbours, 33 d e r e l i c t works," and " s t r a n g l e d orchards." Despxte the -72-poem's teasing metaphysical and psychological a l l u s i o n s , Auden i s c l e a r l y attacking an economic order that has allowed such massive decay, and he attacks i t not because i t i s i n d u s t r i a l but because i t i s c a p i t a l i s t . S i m i l a r l y , i n C. Day Lewis' The Magnetic Mountain (1932) the "cursed towns and devastated areas" are symptoms of a generalized i l l n e s s i n f e c t i n g English culture which, despite obscuri-34 t i e s , i s largely economic i n i t s aetiology. In part, the Auden poets 1 enthusiasm for technology rested on t h e i r lack of exposure to the North where the i n d u s t r i a l revolu-t i o n had permeated nearly every corner of l i f e and where Lawrence's sense of the ugliness of industry had been sharpened. The new factories that appeared i n the South in the between-the-wards period were generally clean and e f f i c i e n t i n the modern manner, devoted to l i g h t industry rather than heavy as i n the North. The enthusiasm of the Auden poets for technology was directed at the new tech-nologies that had grown out of the war -- wirelesses, e l e c t r i c i t y , aeroplanes — not at the c o a l - f i r e d m i l l s of nineteenth-century Manchester. In Stephen Spender's poems we even f i n d a d i s t i n c t l y F u t u r i s t quality of exul-t a t i o n at the prospect of advanced technology. "The -73-Express" (1932), "The Landscape Near an Aerodrome (1933), and "Pylons" (1933) attach the poet's l y r i c a l enthusiasm 35 not to images of nature but to images of technology. The ambivalence about technology on the part of T h i r t i e s writers i s best expressed i n a passage from George Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier (1937): The i n d u s t r i a l towns of the North are ugly because they happen to have been b u i l t at a time when modern methods of steel-construction and smoke abatement were unknown, and when everyone was too busy making money to think about anything else ... But since the war, industry has tended to d r i f t southward and i n doing so has grown almost comely. The t y p i c a l post-war factory i s not a gaunt barrack or an awful chaos of blackness and belching chimneys; i t i s a g l i t t e r i n g white structure of concrete and s t e e l surrounded by green lawns and beds of t u l i p s ... A belching chimney or a stinking slum i s repulsive c h i e f l y because i t implies warped l i v e s and a i l i n g chimneys. Look at i t from a purely aesthetic standpoint and i t may have a certain macabre appeal. I f i n d that anything outrageously strange generally ends by fascinating me when I abominate i t . 3 ^ There i s no ind i c a t i o n i n t h i s passage that Orwell i s an unli k e l y convert to Futurism or the Bauhaus, despite those " g l i t t e r i n g white" f a c t o r i e s . Orwell's point i s the one - 7 4 -made by Blake and Lawrence i n th e i r d i f f e r e n t ways: that the o r i g i n of ugliness i s not i n the world of things, natural or a r t i f i c i a l , but i n the mind of man. For Lawrence, the ugliness of the nineteenth century was the ugliness of commerce and u t i l i t a r i a n i s m which had s p i l l e d out over the world. This i s the same recognition that w i l l allow Lowry i n his late stories to f i t an o i l refinery into a p a r a d i s i a l scene. Paradise, l i k e h e l l , i s i n the mind of man. In the course of the nineteenth century a h e l l i s h view of r e a l i t y squeezed the p a r a d i s i a l one out of England and transformed the face of the country i n i t s own brutal image. This triumph of s p i r i t u a l ugliness i n the mind of the English middle class — for commerce and u t i l i t y were the values of the nineteenth-century bourgeoisie and the England they had created -- made the actual England, even where i t had not been despoiled by industrialism, seem tainted. By the end of the F i r s t World War the presence of i n d u s t r i a l i s m seemed to Lawrence inescapable i n England. Orwell confirms t h i s view i n Wigan Pier where he accounts i n d i r e c t l y for the qu a l i t y of hysteria i n the c r i t i q u e of indu s t r i a l i s m mounted by those English writers who stand i n t h e o r g a n i c i s t l i n e : But q u i t e soon th e t r a i n drew away i n t o open c o u n t r y , and t h a t seemed s t r a n g e , a l m o s t u n n a t u r a l , as though the open c o u n t r y had been a k i n d o f p a r k , f o r i n t h e i n d u s t r i a l a r e a s , one always f e e l s t h a t t h e smoke and f i l t h must go on f o r e v e r and t h a t no p a r t o f t h e e a r t h ' s s u r f a c e can escape them. I n a crowded, d i r t y l i t t l e c o u n t r y l i k e o urs one t a k e s d e f i l e m e n t a l m o s t f o r g r a n t e d . S l a g -heaps and chimneys seem a more n o r m a l , p r o b a b l e l a n d s c a p e than g r a s s and t r e e s , and even i n t h e depths o f t h e c o u n t r y when you d r i v e your f o r k i n t o t h e ground you h a l f e x p e c t t o l e v e r up a broken b o t t l e o r a r u s t y c a n . 3 ^ O r w e l l ' s s u r p r i s e t h a t p a t c h e s o f an E n g l a n d p r i o r t o the i n d u s t r i a l scene s t i l l e x i s t r e f l e c t s the thoroughness w i t h w h i c h t h e n i n e t e e n t h - c e n t u r y c a s t o f mind had p e r -meated E n g l i s h c o n s c i o u s n e s s . The n a t u r a l scene seems t o him " s t r a n g e , a l m o s t u n n a t u r a l " because orieuof the e f f e c t s i n d u s t r i a l i s m had been t o c o n s i g n t h a t w o r l d t o t h e r e a l m o f myth. As i n d u s t r i a l i s m grew more p e r v a s i v e i n E n g l i s h l i f e , so t h e o l d o r d e r became m y t h i c a l , became the uneasy i d e o l o g i c a l p r o d u c t o f a c l a s s d i v i d e d a g a i n s t i t s e l f : one p a r t s e e k i n g i n an i d e a l i z e d t r a d i t i o n a l E n g l a n d a compen-s a t i n g image f o r t h e w o r l d the o t h e r p a r t had b r o u g h t i n t o 3 8 b e i n g . O r w e l l i s s u r p r i s e d t o d i s c o v e r i n t a c t a p a r t o f -76-what the myth asserted had e n t i r e l y vanished. For Law-rence and Lowry, contact with t h i s older world was essen-t i a l to t h e i r writing because each had committed himself to an open form whose seemingly f r a g i l e structures required access to an ex i s t i n g organic order. Ultramarine seems the least organicist of Lowry's novels with i t s rather tedious enthusiasm for the ship's engines. We t i r e of Lowry 1s obsession with the engines aft e r he has suggested t h e i r musical p o s s i b i l i t i e s and exhausted t h e i r symbolic ones. We are surprised, then, to discover at l a s t that the engines serve to make an or g a n i c i s t point. Lowry treats them as the features of a Wordsworthian landscape rather than the brute objec-t i v e manifestations of a mechanical world: the jiggering levers began to keep time to a queer tune H i l l i o t had unconsciously f i t t e d to t h e i r chanting, and he saw that at l a s t the interdependence of rod grasp-ing rod, of shooting straight l i n e seizing curved arms, of l i n k s limping backward and wriggling forward on t h e i r queer pivots, had become related to his own meanings and his own struggles, (u, 158). In t h i s passage the mind of Dana H i l l i o t at l a s t f i t s i t s e l f to the external world and solves the problem of - 7 7 -the bourgeois i n t e l l e c t u a l i n the T h i r t i e s unable to make contact with " r e a l i t y " as well as the problem of the novel's unity. Dana effects a Wordsworthian marriage of the mind of man to the goodly universe of things. Lowry, however, 39 has updated Wordsworth's "goodly universe" so that i t i s able to include mechanical objects. On t h i s marriage, the novel's unity hangs. Here Dana H i l l i o t , the T h i r t i e s neurotic would-be hero, cures his i l l s : he touches r e a l i t y i n i t s contemporary forms; he has his f i r s t manly orgasm ("shooting straight l i n e seizing curved arms"); and he discovers that order i n the external world depends on his a b i l i t y to project outwards an inner order. The marriage i s an unsatisfactory one for Dana as for the reader. There are a number of deliberate allusions to perversion and masturbation: "limping," "wriggling," "queer." If order i n external r e a l i t y i s to depend on Dana's subjective orderings, then in e v i t a b l y i t i s going to be flawed. Inevitably also, Lowry i s unhappy with t h i s kind of solution. The chief motive of the voyage i s to discover an organic unity that no longer exists i n England. But the ship on which he voyages remains a part of England and the p o s t - i n d u s t r i a l world. To -78-attempt to f i t t h i s world into the perspective of i t s chief r e s i s t i n g ideology i s a brave but somewhat desperate solution to a Lowrian, and Lawrentian, impasse. For the moment, i t i s the best that Dana, and Lowry, can do, and i t i s an improvement on a l l those l i s t s of new technologies we f i n d i n T h i r t i e s writing. Despite a l l the pylons, wirelesses, aeroplanes, and locomotives that announce the new age throughout the poetry of the T h i r t i e s , the voice of organicism was by no means s t i l l e d i n the decade. We may hear i t i n s i s t e n t l y behind the l e f t i s t rhetoric of C. Day Lewis. In his "Letter to a Young Revolutionary" (19 33) Day Lewis advises the prospective Communist: "You must break up the super-f i c i a l v i s i o n of the motorist and restore the slow, i n -40 s t i n c t i v e , absorbent vxsxon of the countryman." Day Lewis, one of the most dedicated and durable of T h i r t i e s communist writers, ended the decade in the English country-side writing nature poetry and t r a n s l a t i n g V i r g i l ' s Georgics. We may hear the voice of the organic community clamorously i n John Betjeman's poem, "Slough" (1937), i n which the poet wishes that the modern world might destroy i t s e l f with the very technology by which i t has l a i d -79-waste the old but not quite extinct world of "the plough," of "cabbages," and of "the earth": Come, fr i e n d l y bombs, and f a l l on Slough It i s n ' t f i t for humans now, There i s n ' t grass to graze a cow Swarm over, Death! Come, bombs, and blow to smithereens Those air-conditioned, bright canteens, Tinned f r u i t , tinned meat, tinned milk,tinned beans Tinned minds, tinned breath. 1 We may also hear the voice of the organic commu-nity raised very s t r i d e n t l y indeed i n the early writings — propaganda i s the more exact word — of F.R. Leavis. In a 1930 pamphlet, Mass C i v i l i z a t i o n and Minority Culture, Leavis attacks the organs of mass opinion-making and mass entertainment -- radio, cinema, and the newspapers -- with a rancorousness that anticipates Patrick White's treatment 42 of the same in The L i v i n g and The Dead (1941). In Culture and Environment (1933) Leavis instructs English teachers i n schools to i n s t i l in t h e i r students reverence for "Tradition" and for "the organic community" while sharpening t h e i r c r i t i c a l s k i l l s by having them analyse the language of modern advertising i n the s p i r i t i n which the church fathers analysed the Gnostic t e x t s . ^ 3 -80-We may even hear the v o i c e of o r g a n i c i s m , ad-m i t t e d l y at a somewhat queered p i t c h , i n the "mortmere" fa n t a s y world which C h r i s t o p h e r Isherwood and Edward Upward invented as schoolboys and whose symbolism W.H. Auden took over. "Mortmere" i s the t r a d i t i o n a l E n g l i s h v i l l a g e w i t h i t s stock c h a r a c t e r s — v i c a r , s q u i r e , a s s o r t e d e c c e n t r i c s -- transposed i n t o the nightmare world of 4 4 between-the-wars England. That i s to say, the n i g h t -mare q u a l i t y i n "Mortmere" has i t s o r i g i n s not i n the authors' view of the E n g l i s h past but i n t h e i r view of contemporary r e a l i t y . Both were too young to have experienced a t f i r s t hand the pre-war world of o r d e r , s t a b i l i t y , c o n t i n u i t y -- thus was i t p o r t r a y e d to I s h e r -wood — but i t s myth t r o u b l e d them. The world of t h e i r youth they f e l t to have been d e f i n e d nowhere more c l e a r l y than i n The Waste Land: the world of t h e i r young manhood, the T h i r t i e s , was one i n which a second war was w i d e l y expected. Thus a g r e a t g u l f seemed to separate the world "between the wars" which they had i n h e r i t e d from t h a t m y t h i c a l England which had a p p a r e n t l y e x i s t e d p r i o r 45 to the F i r s t War. The b i z a r r e n e s s of the "Mortmere" v e r s i o n of the E n g l i s h past d e r i v e s from the c h i l i a s m -81-of i t s authors which they have simply projected backwards into history. Thus, i n the very d i s t o r t i o n s of "Mort-mere" we may discover a fascination with the quaint "orga-ni c " England of myth and a horror at the actual England caught between two catastrophic wars and profoundly unconfident about i t s formerly secure place i n the world. F i n a l l y , we may a t t r i b u t e at least i n part to organicist nostalgia the continued prestige of D.H. Lawrence during the T h i r t i e s . Lawrence's orga n i c i s t mission was e x p l i c i t l y taken up by Gerald D u r r e l l i n his Black Book (1935). Lawrence also turns up i n heroic guise i n Auden's The Orators (1932) where he figures as a possible healer of the neurotic soul of the young Englishman. This i s an early work of Auden 1s whose 4 6 p o l i t i c a l implications the poet l a t e r repudiated. Yet Lawrence also turns up h e r o i c a l l y i n Day Lewis' 4 7 "Letter to a Young Revolutionary." Lawrence's ghost stalked and troubled the T h i r t i e s . I t i s found i n White's f i r s t novel, Happy Valley (1939). This ghost would not be exorcized because, i n spite of the l i v i n g man's p o l i t i c a l heresies, his uncompromising view of the -82-sickness of English culture a f t e r the 1914 - 18 war — Lawrence actually proposed the winter of 1915 - 16 as the point at which "the s p i r i t of the old London collapsed" -- concurred with the view p r e v a i l i n g i n the T h i r t i e s , a view shared by the p o l i t i c a l r i g h t , l e f t , and the 48 several shades of opinion between. Even as unromantic a writer as George Orwell draws i n sp i t e of himself on t h i s l i n e of org a n i c i s t nostalgia. In the course of the T h i r t i e s , Orwell's a t t i -tude to the encroachment of factories and suburbs on the remaining r u r a l scenes became more and more hardened in opposition. In Coming Up for A i r , Orwell discloses his hankering aft e r the Edwardian v i l l a g e l i f e which had been swallowed up between the wars by housing estates and the new towns, Slough among them. Thus were the traces of the old world, mourned by Hardy and Lawrence, eradicated from England. In Wigan Pier, Orwell discloses his ambi-valent feelings about progressive p o l i t i c s and org a n i c i s t nostalgia i n a passage that pinpoints an ambivalence that runs r i g h t through T h i r t i e s writing: -83-I do not i n a sense "want" to return to a simpler, harder, probably a g r i c u l t u r a l way of l i f e . In the same sense I don't "want" to cut down my drinking, to pay my debts, ... etc., etc. But i n another and more permanent sense I do want these t h i n g s . 4 9 In other words, Orwell found himself longing for what his always cantakerous p o l i t i c a l conscience t o l d him was reactionary and, i n the context of the T h i r t i e s , dangerous. Despite a l l t h i s ambivalence, one mood was general and unequivocal i n the T h i r t i e s : the mood of profound pessimism about the future of western c i v i l i z a -t i o n . The young middle-class writers of the T h i r t i e s f e l t that t h e i r c i v i l i z a t i o n had exhausted i t s e l f . They agreed with older writers l i k e Wyndham Lewis, Lawrence, and V i r g i n i a Woolf that the old, secure order had not survived the Great War. And p o l i t i c a l events on the Continent convinced them that what was l e f t of bourgeois c i v i l i z a t i o n was doomed. Under the circumstances i t i s hardly surprising that socialism seemed a more a t t r a c t i v e proposition than fascism i f indeed one's p r i v i l e g e d , cultured way of l i f e was destined for the capacious dust-bin of history. - 8 4 -The attractions of Marxism for "the Auden generation" lay less i n a general w i l l among i n t e l l e c t u a l s to transform society by c o l l e c t i v e action with the pro-l e t a r i a t than i n a common desire to discover order i n a world that seemed to be f l y i n g apart. Marxism answered the same e s s e n t i a l l y r e l i g i o u s need that led Evelyn Waugh and Graham Greene to Catholicism, T.S. E l i o t to Anglicanism, and W.H. Auden through Marxism to an E x i s t e n t i a l i s t variety of protestant C h r i s t i a n i t y . The Communist Party of Great B r i t a i n , then, suggested an u n l i k e l y but seductive church to a generation which found the Twenties "philosophy of meaninglessness" inadequate to a decade of economic depression and the 50 r i s e of fascism. Among the several churches that vied for the allegiance of i n t e l l e c t u a l s i n the T h i r t i e s --money-reform, nationalism, Catholicism (Anglo and Roman), pacifism, and Freudianism — Communism was by far the most successful i n r e c r u i t i n g acolytes among young writers from White's and Lowry's background. This i s so much the case that l i t e r a r y h i s t o r i e s of the T h i r t i e s too often approach the decade by tracing the f l i r t a t i o n s and copulations of 51 writers with Marxism. George Orwell even claims that -85-"for about three years .. the central stream of English l i t e r a t u r e was more or less d i r e c t l y under Communist 52 control." The claim i s exaggerated but i t suggests the seriousness with which Marxist doctrine and the role of the Communist Party were taken during the T h i r t i e s . Neither White nor Lowry crossed the portal of t h i s most dogmatic of secular r e l i g i o n s , but both lingered on the steps s u f f i c i e n t l y to learn the r i t u a l gestures and genuflec-tions. The h i s t o r i c a l progress of the Spanish c i v i l war serves i n Under the Volcano (1947) as a central structuring, device and as a continuous moral resonance. White attempt-ed i n the T h i r t i e s to create i n his f i c t i o n