Monday, August 20, 2018

About Shelley and Corbyn

From Joe Kennedy’s anti-Blairite screed Authentocrats:
When Corbyn quoted Percy Shelley’s “The Masque of Anarchy” at Glastonbury Festival in the summer of 2017, various figures on the political right and centre were quick to take to Twitter to claim that referencing Romantic poetry was hardly an example of the common touch. Imagining how Raymond Williams might have responded to this idea is good fun, to say the least. If you’re tempted in any way to concur with it, think a little longer about the implications of saying poetry, books, music, painting and so on are only for the well-off.
Well, yes and no. Obviously, poetry, especially the poetry of a dazzling radical such as Shelley, *should* be on the lips of everyone. But it really isn’t, is it? If I were to amble into my nearest branch of Lidl and ask them who wrote The Masque of Anarchy, what sort of strike rate should I expect? In fact, I rather suspect that going to Waitrose wouldn’t be any more productive and the vast majority of those who Kennedy would define as “well-off” wouldn’t recognise a line of Shelley if crawled up their trouser legs and returned the trains to public ownership.

Which is, to Kennedy, probably Tony Blair’s fault, but it’s still true.

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