John Carey
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What Good are the Arts?


What Good Are the Arts? (Faber and Faber, 2005). Published in Spain as Para Que Sirve el Arte? (2007); also in Chinese (2007). The Faber paperback edition (2006) has a Postscript in which Carey answers his critics. “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? – ideally as the educational component of a whole range of corrective measures, some of which would be much more painful. Carey (who wrote the equally brilliant and valuable The Intellectuals and the Masses) 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”, Nich Hornby. “Blows the gaff on a lot of the received wisdom behind our culture”, Joan Bakewell. “Brilliant…Exhilarating and suggestive”, Rupert Christiansen, Spectator. “Please everyone read John Carey’s iconoclastic What Good Are the Arts? – pricking the most pompous of balloons”, Simon Jenkins, New Statesman (Books of the Year). “My favourite book”, Julie Burchill, Independent on Sunday (Books of the Year). “Incisive and inspirational…Next time the post of chair of the Arts Council becomes vacant someone ought to nominate him”, Blake Morrison, Guardian. “Brilliant, erudite and often hilarious”, Julian Baggini, Sunday Herald. “Anyone with the smallest intellectual pretensions will be the better for reading it”, Paul Johnson, Literary Review.

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