Modernism and Mass Politics: Joyce, Woolf, Eliot, Yeats

By Michael Tratner | Go to book overview
Save to active project


In the first two decades of the twentieth century, a new phenomenon swept across politics: the masses. Groups that had struggled as marginal parts of the political system--particularly workers and women--suddenly exploded into vast and seemingly unstoppable movements. In England, the Labour and suffrage movements became militant before World War I, suspended actions during the war, and then achieved what seemed a remarkable success in the Reform Bill of 1918, which tripled the number of voters in national elections. In 1917, the Russian Revolution generated intense fears and hopes by providing an image of what the millions of new voters might do. At the same time, the fact that most workers' and women's parties throughout Europe had supported national war efforts revealed that mass movements that seemed to have the potential of overthrowing the system could, under the right influences, be turned into powerful supports for that same system. Politicians became intensely interested in understanding how to speak to and influence the masses. A whole subgenre of sociological-political treatises purporting to analyze the mass mind emerged all over Europe, particularly in England, where books on the subject by William McDougall, Georges Sorel, Graham Wallas, Wilfred Trotter, and Sigmund Freud were published around the time of World War I. 1

All these texts drew heavily on the theories put forth in The Crowd, written in 1895 by a French writer, Gustave Le Bon, and translated into English in 1897. Le Bon developed the idea that when a crowd forms, a whole new kind of mentality that "is perpetually hovering on the borderland of un


Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this page

Cited page

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Modernism and Mass Politics: Joyce, Woolf, Eliot, Yeats


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 288

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?