A Diet of Dead Crow: Aspects of French Culture in the Criterion (1923–39)



The First World War altered much in intellectual and cultural relationships between England and France. Normal channels for the reception of French culture were disrupted. The effect of this on the English intellect was a grievous sense of loss: Paul Fussell describes it as ‘a loss of amplitude, a decay of imaginative and intellectual possibility corresponding to the literal loss of physical freedom’.1 In the aftermath of the war, many judged it imperative that cultural links with the Continent be restored. Something had to be done to counter the feeling that, in the words of E. M. Forster, England had become ‘tighter and tinier and shinier than ever — a very precious little party’.2 Dissatisfaction was such that many English intellectuals quite simply left for France, or for another country, becoming members of what Fussell has called the ‘British literary Diaspora’. For those obliged to remain, the literary review was a compensatory medium, an important instrument for the raising of cultural awareness.3


Intellectual Activity European Culture French Culture French Writer Racial Antipathy 
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  1. 1.
    Paul Fussell, Abroad: British Literary Travelling Between the Wars (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982) p. 10.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    T. S. Eliot, ‘The Action Française, M. Maurras and Mr Ward’, Criterion, 7 (March 1928) 195–203 (quotation from p. 196).Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    Stephen Spender, Eliot (London: Fontana, 1982) pp. 216–18.Google Scholar
  4. 7.
    Leo Ward, ‘L’Action Française: a Reply to Mr Eliot’, Criterion, 7 (June 1928) 364–72.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    T. S. Eliot, ‘The Literature of Fascism’, Criterion, 8 (Dec 1928) 280–90 (quotation from p. 288).Google Scholar
  6. 10.
    Robert Aron and Arnaud Dandieu, ‘Back to Flesh and Blood’, Criterion, 12 (Jan 1933) 185–99 (quotation from p. 187).Google Scholar
  7. 11.
    T. S. Eliot, ‘A Commentary’, Criterion, 13 (Apr 1934) 451–4 (quotation from p. 454).Google Scholar
  8. 15.
    Charles K. Colhoun, ‘French Periodicals’, Criterion, 14 (Oct 1934) 175–9 (quotation from p. 177).Google Scholar
  9. 16.
    T. McG., reviewing Léon Pierre-Quint, Andre Gide: sa vie, son œuvre (Paris: Stock, 1934), in Criterion 13 (July 1934) 707–8.Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    Roger Hinks, ‘Art Chronicle: Frenchness’, Criterion, 11 (Apr 1932) 490–6 (quotation from p. 490).Google Scholar
  11. 18.
    Roger Hinks, ‘Art Chronicle: Variations on a theme by Valéry’, Criterion, 10 (Oct 1930) 315–21 (quotation from p. 318).Google Scholar
  12. 19.
    Montgomery Belgion, ‘French Chronicle’ , Criterion, 18 (Jan 1939) 297–311 (quotation from p. 307).Google Scholar
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    Quoted in Ian Hamilton, The Little Magazines (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1976) p. 79.Google Scholar

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© Ceri Crossley and Ian Small 1988

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