Arnold Bennett, wildly successful as a writer in pulling himself up by his own bootstraps from relative poverty, had a strong social conscience. Margaret Drabble observes:

... He had achieved fame indeed. And perhaps it was this new thrill that made him write, on the same day, in his journal: 'Our first stroll along the front impressed me very favourably, yesterday afternoon. But I am obsessed by the thought that all this comfort, luxury, ostentation, snobbishness, and correctness, is founded on a vast injustice to the artisan class. I can never get away from this. The furs, autos, fine food, attendance and diamond rings of this hotel only impress it on me more.' In similar mood, he had written in the hotel at Vevey, 'In the basement of this hotel, very dark with windows that look on a wall that supports the earth, is the laundry, where human beings work all day washing linen. We live on top of all that, admiring fine literature, and the marvellous scenery!' It was not only the comfort of the big hotel that appealed to him, pioneer advocate though he was of the private bath: he also enjoyed the sense of disparity. He took no pleasure in the injustices of the artisan; he saw them for what they were. But the contrasts of life fascinated him. He tried to catch them, seriously, in Imperial Palace, and failed only marginally, through a loss of energy, maybe: but already, years earlier, the scheme was planning itself in him.

(from Arnold Bennett: A Biography, Chapter 8, "Success"; cf. InfraStructure (26 Dec 2000), HisOwnLight (20 Oct 2005), PaulineSmith (14 Dec 2005), ...)

TopicLiterature - TopicBennett - TopicSociety - 2006-01-13

(correlates: PaulineSmith, UnenviableHappiness, ArnoldBennettRequiem, ...)