What Good are the Arts?
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What Good are the Arts?

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Description

Looking at the true value of art, Carey both asks and answers many questions regarding our perception of the arts, as well as making a self-confessedly personal and subjective case for the superiority of literature over all other arts.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 320 pages
  • 128 x 198 x 24mm | 140.61g
  • FABER & FABER
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 0571226035
  • 9780571226030
  • 158,071

Review quote

"'An informative, thought-provoking and entertaining book on a subject that rarely produces writing with all three qualities.' David Lodge, Sunday Times 'Engaged, provocative and frequently funny.' Sam Leith, Daily Telegraph 'Incisive and inspirational.' Blake Morrison, Guardian"show more

About John Carey

John Carey is an Emeritus Professor at Oxford University. His books include studies of Donne, Dickens and Thackeray, The Intellectuals and the Masses, What Good Are the Arts? and a life of William Golding., John Carey is an Emeritus Professor at Oxford University and a Fellow of the British Academy. His books include studies of Donne, Dickens and Thackeray, The Intellectuals and the Masses, What Good Are the Arts? and a life of William Golding.show more

Our customer reviews

<p>One of the real difficulties of relativism -- the belief that there are no absolute values -- is that, by virtue of its own definition, it is, itself, just an assertion. And when you assert that your assertion is merely one opinion among many others you rather lessen the power of your argument! Regardless, a relativist argument can still hit home and John Carey's <a href="http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/showbook.php?id=0571226035" target="_blank">What Good Are The Arts?</a> hits its designated target hard. </p> <p><a href="http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/showbook.php?id=0571226035" target="_blank">What Good Are The Arts?</a> is a fiery polemic that is both fun to read and, in its central point, difficult to argue against. The arts do <em>not</em> improve us. That is, those who make and view art aren't better human beings than those who do not. Carey is correct that e.g. funding for Opera Houses cannot be defended on account that listening to arias is morally valuable. Since the waning of religion from the 18th Century onwards all sorts of spiritual values have been ascribed by the ruling classes to the Arts. And none of them stand up too much scrutiny. Above and beyond this, what is art anyway? The many definitions on offer are shown to be thoroughly wanting.</p> <p>Regardless, there is something odd at the heart of this polemic. It isn't a contradiction that Carey spends the first half of his book slamming the silly notion of absolute standards in art, and then mounting an admittedly subjective argument in favour of literature to end his book. But there is something nescient at its heart -- art and human beings are co-terminous. We are human, as much as anything else, because humans think imaginatively, because we do art. Art is a hugely capacious category, and arguing what it is, and always has been, is part of what it is. But one thing it most certainly is is essential. The Arts Establishment may or may not be a bloated ruling class conspiracy of taste, but art itself is simply -- definingly -- human. <a href="http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/WEBSITE/WWW/WEBPAGES/showbook.php?id=0571226035" target="_blank">What Good Are The Arts?</a> turns out to be question that not only has a rather empty tautology at its heart, but shows a huge misapprehension. Just like human beings, for good or for ill, the arts just are!</p>show more
by Mark Thwaite
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