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'Commanding the Heart' - Edward Carpenter and Friends

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Fresh air, sexual liberation, manual work and socialism was the heady brew offered by the leading exponent of anti-Establishment attitudes at the end of the Victorian era.
Edward Carpenter described the 'Victorian Age' as:
The labour movement took another course and advanced by committee meetings and statistics towards state- owned factories attached to state supervised recreation grounds. Edward's heart beat no warmer at such joys. He felt no enthusiasm over municipal baths and municipally provided bathing drawers. What he wanted was News from Nowhere and the place that is still nowhere, wildness, the rapture of unpolluted streams, sunrise and sunset over the moon, and in the midst of these the working people whom he loved, passionately in touch with one another and with the natural glories around them. Perhaps labour will listen to him in the end. 'Who shall command the heart?' as he wrote himself.

It is well to remember there are several potentialities in human nature, not one, and though it is possible to organise, organise, organise, which is all that political parties do at present, it is also possible to obey the heart's commands. If labour ever changes its course, he will come into his own, and if, as he maintained, his spirit continues to haunt the places and people he loved he will pass a happy little day in the midst of his immortal bliss.

He noted rather sadly that Carpenter would be 'remembered for his courage and candour about sex, particularly about homosexuality; for his hatred of snobbery while snobbery was still fashionable; for his support for Labour before Labour wore dress-clothes and for his cult of simplicity'.


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