What Good Are the Arts?

What Good Are the Arts?

3.65 (260 ratings by Goodreads)
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Hailed as "exhilarating and suggestive" (Spectator), "thought-provoking and entertaining" (David Lodge, Sunday Times), and "incisive and inspirational" (Guardian), What Good are the Arts? offers a delightfully skeptical look at the nature of art. John Carey-one of Britain's most respected literary critics-here cuts through the cant surrounding the fine arts, debunking claims that the arts make us better people or that judgments about art are anything more than personal opinion. But Carey does argue strongly for the value of art as an activity and for the superiority of one art in particular: literature. Literature, he contends, is the only art capable of reasoning, and the only art that can criticize. Literature has the ability to inspire the mind and the heart towards practical ends far better than any work of conceptual art. Here then is a lively and stimulating invitation to debate the value of art, a provocative book that "anyone seriously interested in the arts should read" (Michael Dirda, The Washington Post).show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 304 pages
  • 142.2 x 210.8 x 35.6mm | 430.92g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 019530554X
  • 9780195305548
  • 1,473,739

About John Carey

John Carey is the Chief Book Reviewer for The Sunday Times (London).show more

Review quote

Brilliant, erudite and often hilarious.... Carey has already been voted one of Britain's top public intellectuals. What Good Are The Arts? should enhance and cement that reputation. * Julian Baggini, Sunday Herald * Brilliant, funny, and insightful.... Makes a compelling and persuasive case that creative expression * especially the written word * Incisive and inspirational.... How interesting it would be if Careys anti-elitist values were adopted and put into practice. Next time the post of chair of the Arts Council becomes vacant, someone ought to nominate him. * Blake Morrison, Guardian * Engaged, provocative and frequently funny. * Sam Leith, Daily Telegraph * Brilliantly stimulating and timely. * Helen Meany, Irish Times * An informative, thought-provoking and entertaining book on a subject that rarely produces writing with all three qualities. * David Lodge, Sunday Times * Exhilarating and suggestive.... Professor John Carey is at his most acerbic, combative and impassioned in this brilliant polemic. * Rupert Christiansen, Spectator * An intensely argued polemic against the intellectually supercilious, the snooty rich and the worship of high culture as a secular religion for the spiritually refined and socially heartless. Anyone seriously interested in the arts should read it. * Michael Dirda, Washington Post Book World * Anyone who still insists on lecturing us about 'high' culture and its superiority to 'mass' culture should be made to read John Carey's 'What Good Are the Arts?'.... Carey defines art, tells us what it's good for and has enormous fun dismantling the claims of aesthetic theorists, from Kant onward. It's been a long time since I've read a saner book. * Nick Hornby, Favorite Book of 2005 selection, Los Angeles Times Book Review * Smart, saucy. * Newsday *show more

Table of contents

Acknowledgements ; Introduction ; Part One ; 1. What is a work of art? ; 2. Is "high" art superior? ; 3. Can science help? ; 4. Do the arts make us better? ; 5. Can art be a religion? ; Part Two ; 6. Literature and Critical Intelligence ; 7. Creative reading: Literature and indistinctness ; Afterword ; Bibliography/Notes/Indexshow more

Rating details

260 ratings
3.65 out of 5 stars
5 20% (52)
4 42% (109)
3 25% (65)
2 10% (25)
1 3% (9)
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