Diluting Holy Writ: From the ‘Men of 1914’ to the Beat Generation

Stevenson, Guy. 2020. Diluting Holy Writ: From the ‘Men of 1914’ to the Beat Generation. Textual Practice, 34(9), pp. 1575-1598. ISSN 0950-236X [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This essay explores the paradox between progressive and reactionary forces in inter-war European modernism through parallels between the London-based writers T.E. Hulme, Wyndham Lewis and Ezra Pound, and between Pound and Lewis’ avant-garde art group the Vorticists and the American pre-Beatnik Henry Miller. How did the artistic quest to respect and delineate difference lead writers like Pound and Louis-Ferdinand Céline towards a fascist politics that abhorred it? At the other end of the political spectrum, how do the utopian, radically humanist ideals of a writer like Henry Miller find expression through confrontationally anti-humanist language? The answers to these questions, I argue, shed unexpected light on the politics of the American counterculture after World War Two, a moment that is too often understood in unquestioningly progressive terms.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):



Anti-humanism, modernism, Ezra Pound, Henry Miller, The Beat Generation, ‘men of 1914’, fascism

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature


10 July 2019Submitted
6 August 2020Accepted
3 September 2020Published

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Date Deposited:

16 Aug 2019 11:42

Last Modified:

30 Jul 2021 10:55



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