[Ads-l] "All art is propaganda."

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Nov 17 15:52:51 UTC 2014


George Orwell repeated the phrase without attribution in his essay on
Dickens, first published (it seems) in _Inside the Whale and Other Essays_
(London Gollancz,1940), p.66:

"But every writer, especially every novelist, has a message, whether he
admits it or not, and the minutest details of his work are influenced by
it. All art is propaganda."

Orwell now usually gets credit.

Sinclair repeated his dictum as late as 1960: "My thesis is that all art is
propaganda. If it's for the established institutions of a country, it's
[called] great art. If it's against them, it's called propaganda."

As a reviewer of Sinclair's _Mammonart_ observed in 1925, it is difficult
to detect the precise propaganda message of Poe's "The Bells" or Dvorak's
"Humoresque."

The pernicious message of both, of course, is that art is innocent. Remind
me to ban them from the Worker's Paradise once it's up and running.

JL

On Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 8:00 AM, Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at gmail.com> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dan Goncharoff <thegonch at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "All art is propaganda."
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> So do we credit the phrase to Guy Pene du Bois?
>
> DanG
>
> On Sun, Nov 16, 2014 at 1:02 PM, ADSGarson O'Toole <
> adsgarsonotoole at gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> > -----------------------
> > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > Poster:       ADSGarson O'Toole <adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM>
> > Subject:      Re: "All art is propaganda."
> >
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > Here is a precursor to Upton Sinclair's statement in 1918 expressed
> > tentatively instead of emphatically.
> >
> > Issue Date: February 1918
> > Periodical: Arts & Decoration
> > Article: Notes of the Studies and Galleries,
> > Star Page 165, Quote Page 165,
> > Publisher: Dexter W. Hewitt at Adam Budge, Inc.
> > Database: Google Books Full View
> >
> >
> http://books.google.com/books?id=hhbnAAAAMAAJ&q=%22if+all+art%22#v=snippet&
> >
> > [Begin excerpt]
> > Yet we sometimes wonder if all art is not propaganda--political or
> > spiritual and always egotistic.
> > [End excerpt]
> >
> > Garson
> >
> > On Sat, Nov 15, 2014 at 8:03 PM, Jonathan Lighter
> > <wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
> > > ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> > -----------------------
> > > Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > > Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> > > Subject:      Re: "All art is propaganda."
> > >
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > >
> > > That occurred to me too, but I don't see a ref. in GB or Hathi.
> > >
> > > Prob. Marx said something more prolix.
> > >
> > > JL
> > >
> > > On Sat, Nov 15, 2014 at 6:13 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net>
> wrote:
> > >
> > >> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> > >> -----------------------
> > >> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> > >> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> > >> Subject:      Re: "All art is propaganda."
> > >>
> > >>
> >
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > >>
> > >> At 11/15/2014 04:57 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> > >>
> > >> >Not in YBQ, but it gets 30,000 raw Googlits.  I recently read it in a
> > >> movie
> > >> >review.
> > >> >
> > >> >1925 Upton Sinclair _Mammonart_ (Pasadena: pub. by the author) 9: All
> > art
> > >> >is propaganda. It is universally and inescapably propaganda;
> sometimes
> > >> >unconsciously, but often deliberately, propaganda.
> > >> >
> > >> >Rather a dilute meaning of "propaganda," wouldn't you say? The
> relevant
> > >> OED
> > >> >def. is
> > >> >
> > >> >"The systematic dissemination of information, esp. in a biased or
> > >> >misleading way, in order to promote a political cause or point of
> view.
> > >> >Also: information disseminated in this way; the means or media by
> which
> > >> >such ideas are disseminated."
> > >> >
> > >> >Sinclair seems to mean rather that all art exerts some influence on
> > >> >beliefs, willy-nilly.  As dothose who repeat the assertion (usu.
> > without
> > >> >attribution).
> > >>
> > >> Sinclair was a utopian, left-wing, progressive Democrat, Socialist,
> > >> Wobbly-supporting pinko, wasn't he?  "All art is propaganda" is
> > >> something I could imagine said by Karl Marx.
> > >>
> > >> Joel
> > >>
> > >>
> > >> >Factoid:  Wackipedia calls the book-length essay _Mammonart_ a
> "novel."
> > >> >
> > >> >JL
> > >> >
> > >> >
> > >> >--
> > >> >"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the
> > >> truth."
> > >> >
> > >> >------------------------------------------------------------
> > >> >The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> > >>
> > >> ------------------------------------------------------------
> > >> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> > >>
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > > --
> > > "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the
> > truth."
> > >
> > > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>



-- 
"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

------------------------------------------------------------
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org


More information about the Ads-l mailing list