In the novels of George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and D.H. Lawrence a miniature history of the English working class can be found. Through their sympathetic portrayals, these authors transformed working-class culture from a patronizing pastiche into a vital reality. This achievement was crucial to the rise of the English working-class as the key agency of democratic reform from the mid-nineteenth to the mid-twentieth century. In our own times, by contrast, depictions of working-class culture are patronizing at best, if not openly denigrating. This crisis of representation has born recent fruit in the phenomenon of populism, a long-term consequence of the undermining of genuinely popular rule under neoliberal capitalism. Returning to the works of Eliot, Hardy, and Lawrence allows us to regain a sense of direction for contemporary politics, by rediscovering the vital force of working-class culture. show more
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