The Mass Dread of Quietude and the British Anti-Noise Crusade 1919–1939

Part of the Palgrave Studies in Literature, Science and Medicine book series (PLSM)


This essay explores anti-noise discourse in interwar Britain, examining the contemporaneous cultural meanings of ‘modern’ noise and quietness. More specifically, it argues that anti-noise abatement driven by a small elite enclave represented a fear-ridden response to the emergence of mass, standardized culture. Yes, modern noise was alarming but anti-noise reformers detected an altogether more alarming, underlying problem: an increasing disenchantment with quietness. As I will argue, this rhetorical power and appeal of anti-noise discourse lay in its capacity for opening a cultural space for a patrician re-articulation of the peculiarities of English identity, values and traditions, which was conceived as a resource of quietude and stability with which to counteract the stresses of the machine age.


Modern Noise Lord Horder Dundee Courier Quiet Mind medicineMedicine 
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© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of ManchesterManchesterUK

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