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This review is taken from PN Review 62, Volume 14 Number 6, July - August 1988.

WRITING REVOLUTION Barbara Harlow, Resistance Literature (Methuen) £6.95 pb.

Resistance Literature is a timely (in fact, long overdue) intervention in the struggle to reconstruct literary studies in the West. Barbara Harlow is a committed and knowledgeable observer of liberationist movements from Palestine and South Africa to Nicaragua and El Salvador. She has set herself a two-fold task of enormous importance: to rescue the authentic voice of Third World cultural and political resistance from the indifference or hostility of Western imperialism; and to challenge Western literary criticism's adequacy for dealing with the form and content of resistance writing. These two dimensions are vitally related, since hegemonic ideology is deeply inscribed in the assumptions and methods of the Western cultural establishment. There is also for Harlow a special urgency about the need to test recent Marxist and post-structuralist theory against texts produced in cultural situations very different from those in which that theory has developed.

The book is divided into five major sections which deal in turn with the theoretical and historical context, resistance poetry, resistance narratives, prison memoirs and utopian/dystopian images of contemporary reality and the post-independence future. How to defend the historical record of oppressed peoples against the relentless assaults of colonialism and imperialism is the objective outlined in section one. This can best be accomplished - it is argued - by those who, as writers and commentators, are closely involved with the people's political struggles.

Harlow's direct experience of the Palestinian Arabs' struggle guarantees her own credentials in this respect. For those of ...

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