By M. Keith Booker
In the United States, the lengthy Fifties have been marked through an extreme skepticism towards utopian choices to the present capitalist order. This skepticism used to be heavily concerning the weather of the chilly battle, during which the demonization of socialism contributed to a dismissal of all choices to capitalism. This booklet reviews how American novels and flicks of the lengthy Nineteen Fifties replicate the lack of the utopian mind's eye and replicate the transforming into crisis that capitalism introduced routinization, alienation, and different dehumanizing results. the amount relates the decline of the utopian imaginative and prescient to the increase of past due capitalism, with its increasing globalization and consumerism, and to the beginnings of postmodernism. as well as famous literary novels, akin to Nabokov's Lolita, Booker explores a wide physique of leftist fiction, well known novels, and the movies of Alfred Hitchcock and Walt Disney. The e-book argues that whereas the canonical novels of the interval hire a utopian aesthetic, that aesthetic has a tendency to be very vulnerable and isn't strengthened by means of content material. The leftist novels, nonetheless, hire a realist aesthetic yet are utopian of their exploration of possible choices to capitalism. The examine concludes that the utopian energies in cultural productions of the lengthy Nineteen Fifties are very susceptible, and that those works are inclined to push aside utopian pondering as naive or perhaps sinister. The susceptible utopianism in those works has a tendency to be mirrored in features linked to postmodernism.
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Additional info for The Post-Utopian Imagination: American Culture in the Long 1950s
But the Utopian promise of the book's style is seriously muted by its overtly anti-utopian subject matter. The trilogy begins, in The 42nd Parallel (1930), with a vision of a Wobbly-led revolutionary fervor that is beginning to sweep across America in the early years of the twentieth century. It suggests, in 1919 (1932), the decline of that fervor (and of the idealism that drove it) in conjunction with the American participation in World War I and the consequent suppression of radical movements.
The book is now best known through the greatly attenuated film version, which provided American culture with one of its most remembered images, a scantily clad Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr making love on the beach, while waves break over them. Tellingly, the World War II novel of the long 1950s that would ultimately achieve the loftiest critical reputation was Catch-22. Published in 1961 (though begun in 1953), Heller's book serves as an appropriate conclusion to the literary production of the 1950s, especially if one views that production as beginning with The Naked and the Dead, a book that has a surprising amount in common with Catch-22, despite the dramatic stylistic and tonal differences between the two novels.
Imperial elite's new image of itself as the guardian of aesthetic culture. And Frances Stonor Saunders has demonstrated that the canonization of abstract expressionism was at least partly the result of carefully calculated (and well-funded) efforts on the part of the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to promote such modernist movements as evidence of American cultural superiority to the Soviets. Of course, this canonization of modernism as anti-Soviet art was in some ways conditioned by the earlier official rejection of modernism by the Soviets themselves.
The Post-Utopian Imagination: American Culture in the Long 1950s by M. Keith Booker