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This article is taken from PN Review 14, Volume 6 Number 6, July - August 1980.

Can the Artistic Life Survive? David Holbrook

AT THE END of his remarkable book on the literary business, and especially on the predicament of the novel, Per Gedin, the Swedish publisher, wrote that "an immediate and sizeable contribution by society is needed in order to preserve and continue to develop the literary book-as much for the sake of society itself as for the book" (Literature in the Market Place, p. 195).

I believe that, too, but there are some serious difficulties which I should like to discuss. There are problems of the cost of time: and questions of belief. There was once an organization in Britain called the Council for the Encouragement of Music and the Arts (CEMA), and this became the Arts Council. What, in general, has been the point of this concern as a nation for giving the Arts State support? It can only be, in Gedin's terms, a belief that the Arts are good for society in some say. Culture has an educational effect, and, like poetry and music as taught in school, can contribute to the quality of life. I believe that, too, of course, since my best-known books so far are concerned to foster the imaginative, creative approach to the teaching of English. I believe that every child has a need to employ symbols, and language as the main form of cultural symbolism, to enquire into the nature of human existence, in the search for meaning in life. Support for the arts by society recognizes that adults have such ...


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