Orc and the Primitives

  • Murray G. H. Pittock
Part of the British Studies Series book series (BRSS)


Broadly speaking, Primitivism was a high cultural construction of positive response to an orally based folk culture which was beginning to suffer large-scale attrition through improved communications, migration to cities, clearances and war. It provided a cultural counterweight to the modernization and rationalization of society represented by Enlightenment, permitting an apparently live connection to the past from those who espoused in their daily round the ideas of the present. Primitivist writers and commentators turned their attention to margins and peripheries in the British Isles at the same time as the dominant culture of Britain was becoming more and more insistently metropolitan. The strong impulse towards the regionalization of literature in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (as Seamus Heaney said in 1986, ‘We are all regionalists now’) can be held to derive from the marriage of Primitivist and Romantic agendas which glorified both the isolated individual and the marginal culture, the former being often seen to greatest advantage in the latter: Wordsworth was a prime exemplar of this pattern.


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Copyright information

© Murray G. H. Pittock 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Murray G. H. Pittock
    • 1
  1. 1.EdinburghUK

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