John Carey (critic)  

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"The intellectuals could not, of course, actually prevent the masses from attaining literacy. But they could prevent them reading literature by making it too difficult for them to understand—and this is what they did. The early twentieth century saw a determined effort, on the part of the European intelligentsia, to exclude the masses from culture. In England this movement has become known as modernism. --John Carey, The Intellectuals and the Masses, p. 16-17

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

John Carey (born 1934) is a British literary critic and author of Intellectuals and the Masses (1992) and What Good Are the Arts? (2005).

He is emeritus Merton Professor of English Literature at the University of Oxford. He was born in Barnes, London, and brought up in Nottingham as an evacuee and East Sheen. He studied at St. John's College, Oxford. After posts in a number of Oxford colleges, he became Merton Professor in 1975, retiring in 2001.

He is known, amongst other things, for his anti-elitist tone and iconoclastic views on high culture, as expressed for example in his recent book What Good Are the Arts? (2005).

He has twice chaired the Booker Prize committee, in 1982 and 2004, and chaired the judging panel for the first Man Booker International Prize in 2005. He also is a reviewer for the London Sunday Times..


  • The Poems of John Milton (1968) editor with Alastair Fowler
  • Andrew Marvell: A Critical Anthology (1969) editor
  • The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner by James Hogg (1969) editor
  • Milton (1970)
  • Complete Shorter Poems of John Milton (1971) editor
  • The Violent Effigy. A Study of Dickens' Imagination (1973) also as Here Comes Dickens: The Imagination of a Novelist
  • Thackeray: Prodigal Genius (1977)
  • English Renaissance Studies: Presented To Dame Helen Gardner In Honour Of Her Seventieth Birthday (1979)
  • John Donne: Life, Mind and Art (1981)
  • William Golding : The Man and His Books (1986) editor
  • Eye-Witness to History (1987) editor
  • Original Copy : Selected Reviews and Journalism 1969-1986 (1987)
  • Faber Book of Reportage (1989) editor
  • John Donne (1990) editor, Oxford Authors
  • Intellectuals and the Masses: Pride and Prejudice among the Literary Intelligentsia, 1880-1939 (1992)
  • Short Stories and the Unbearable Bassington by Saki (1994) editor
  • Faber Book of Science (1995)
  • Selected Poetry of John Donne (1998)
  • Faber Book of Utopias (2000)
  • Pure Pleasure : a Guide to the Twentieth Century's Most Enjoyable Books (2000)
  • George Orwell, Essays (2002) editor
  • Vanity Fair by William Thackeray (2002) editor
  • The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky (2003) editor

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