Perrin's essay examines the late work of Ernest Hemingway and T. S. Eliot, both accused of having descended into “middlebrow” territory during the post—World War II years when the term was most in vogue. Perrin argues that Eliot's and Hemingway's middlebrow work develops an aesthetic program that offers solutions to the contradictions and incoherencies of postwar modernism. He aims to show thereby that so-called middlebrow literature might be thought of not merely in terms of the set of structures for marketing and distribution through which it was consumed, but as having a self-conscious, counter-modernist aesthetic philosophy of its own—one that anticipates the “critical aesthetics” called for by today's scholars.

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