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Arnold Bennett (1867 - 1931)

Lifespan: 1867 - 1931

Related: British literature - cultural optimism - literary criticism - newspaper writer - popular fiction - naturalism (literature) - modernist literature

In search of authors Gramsci would have approved of.

Interestingly, Arnold Bennett achieved what Gramsci advised writers of intellectual capacity to do: write stories better than traditional pulp in order to elevate the sensibilities of the masses. [May 2006]


Arnold Bennett was a successful English playwright, novelist and journalist. Being influenced by the French novelist, …mile Zola (1840-1902), like his friends, H. G. Wells and John Galsworthy, Bennett was styled as a "naturalistic novelist" (persons are creatures of their own environment). These writers were attacked by the "modernists," like Virginia Woolf. In 1903, Bennett moved to Paris (married a Frenchwoman) and lived there for some years. --http://www.blupete.com/Literature/Biographies/Literary/Bennett.htm [May 2006]

Enoch Arnold Bennett (May 27, 1867-March 27, 1931) was a British novelist.

Critically, Bennett has not always had an easy ride. His output was prodigious and, by his own admission, based on maximising his income rather than from creative necessity.

As Bennett put it:

"Am I to sit still and see other fellows pocketing two guineas apiece for stories which I can do better myself? Not me. If anyone imagines my sole aim is art for artís sake, they are cruelly deceived."

Contemporary critics (Virginia Woolf in particular) perceived weaknesses in his work, which they partly attributed to this factor. This may have been unfair - did critics search for weakness on the assumption that writing for financial gain must give rise to it? Did they attribute a genuine weakness in Bennett's work to an unrelated factor? Or were they making an unbiased and valid point? It must also be recognised that Bennett represented the "old guard" in literary terms. His style was traditional rather than modern, which made him an obvious target for those challenging literary conventions.

His reputation, for much of the 20th Century, was tainted by this perception, and it was not until the 1990s that a more positive view of his work became widely accepted. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arnold_Bennett [May 2006]

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