What Good Are the Arts?

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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).
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195305548
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 1/20/2006
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,406,869
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 5.80 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

1 What is a work of art? 3
2 Is 'high' art superior? 32
3 Can science help? 65
4 Do the arts make us better? 96
5 Can art be a religion? 135
6 Literature and critical intelligence 171
7 Creative reading : literature and indistinctness 213
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2006

    Eurocentrist Classist Bunk

    The ideas espoused in this book are prime examples of all that the author attempts to attack. Though he has seen fit to rightfully point out that the societal line between high and low or folk and fine art is simply a reflection of a classist divide, he places himself squarely in the bull's eye of his own stinging arrow with his Eurocentric classist reliance on alphabet symbols/read language or literature as the only ¿good¿ form of art. Here are some who would challenge his theories that visual and aural symbols do not communicate: artists from cultures outside Europe and North America, mathematicians such as Pythagoras, psychologists like Carl Jung with his ¿theater of the Seraphims¿ and children whose minds are freer than those of college professors who have spent their lives trying to achieve validation from a system which bestows letters to affix behind one¿s name that mean nothing to most people except within the closed society of the university. It seems Mr. Carey has become quite full of himself living in the ivory tower. I am curious to read his book ¿The Intellectuals and the Masses¿ to see what he must think about the future as globalization pushes us closer to the ¿them vs. us¿ revolution. As Roger Waters of Pink Floyd would say, Mr. Carey, ¿All in all you¿re just another brick in the wall¿.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 25, 2008

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 16, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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