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One striking fact about English literature during the presentcentury is the extent to which it has been dominated byforeigners–for example, Conrad, Henry James, Shaw, Joyce,Yeats, Pound and Eliot. Still, if you chose to make this a matterof national prestige and examine our achievement in the variousbranches of literature, you would find that England made a fairlygood showing until you came to what may be roughly described aspolitical writing, or pamphleteering. I mean by this the specialclass of literature that has arisen out of the European politicalstruggle since the rise of Fascism. Under this heading novels,autobiographies, books of "reportage", sociological treatises andplain pamphlets can all be lumped together, all of them having acommon origin and to a great extent the same emotionalatmosphere.
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The application of this to the radio is obvious. At present theloudspeaker is the enemy of the creative writer, but this may notnecessarily remain true when the volume and scope of broadcastingincrease. As things are, although the BBC does keep up a feebleshow of interest in contemporary literature, it is harder tocapture five minutes on the air in which to broadcast a poem thantwelve hours in which to disseminate lying propaganda, tinnedmusic, stale jokes, faked "discussions" or what-have-you. But thatstate of affairs may alter in the way I have indicated, and whenthat time comes serious experiment in the broadcasting of verse,with complete disregard for the various hostile influences whichprevent any such thing at present, would become possible. I don'tclaim it as certain that such an experiment would have very greatresults. The radio was bureaucratised so early in its career thatthe relationship between broadcasting and literature has never beenthought out. It is not certain that the microphone is theinstrument by which poetry could be brought back to the commonpeople and it is not even certain that poetry would gain by beingmore of a spoken and less of a written thing. But I do urge thatthese possibilities exist, and that those who care for literaturemight turn their minds more often to this much-despised medium,whose powers for good have perhaps been obscured by the voices ofProfessor Joad and Doctor Goebbels.