“Save the Allegory!”*

*article by Laura Miller in Slate, 3.05.2016.

“It is perhaps surprising that in the early phase of Arts and Crafts activity, between 1884 and 1888, the notable absentee is William Morris. These were the most zealous years of his Socialist involvement…He could still arouse himself to attend the successive annual meetings (of his own creation, the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings) and deliver an effective and emotional tirade in defence of such irreplaceable buildings as the mediaeval Staple Inn (see image) in Holborn or Fairfax House in Putney, a fine example of the London Town-House threatened with division into smaller units…

…When a reviewer in The Spectator suggested that The Wood beyond the World was an allegory of Capital and Labour, Morris was indignant. “I had not the least intention of thrusting an allegory into The Wood beyond the World; it is made for a tale pure and simple,” he replied. “On the other hand, I should consider it bad art in anyone writing an allegory not to make it clear from the first that this was his intention, and not to take care throughout that the allegory and the story should interpenetrate, as does the great master of allegory, Bunyan.”….Morris’s last novels are written with a glowing belief in the pursuit of the equal society and – in this quite unlike Bunyan – the sexual happiness with which democracy is merged in Morris’s mind.”

Fiona MacCarthy: William Morris (1994) Chapter Seventeen: Hammersmith, One: 1890-93

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