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This article is taken from PN Review 51, Volume 13 Number 1, September - October 1986.

Communities: The Novels of Raymond Williams Kevin Davey

Although it may seem a curious claim, it is nevertheless correct to say that Raymond Williams has not yet received the recognition due to him as a writer; some of his major work has been under-read or neglected. Despite the widespread respect paid him as a critic and theorist, and notwithstanding his role as mentor to the Left, relatively little attention has been paid to his novels. Yet, of all his writing, it is the fiction that has received proportionately more time in the making. Those who follow the criticism or cultural theory turn only rarely to the trilogy consisting of Border Country (1960), Second Generation (1964) and The Fight for Manod (1979) or the related work in The Volunteers (1978) and Loyalties (1985). Even when these novels are taken up, their reading appears to be constrained by the two major descriptions of Williams' fiction in circulation. One of these has come from the author himself, the other is a well-known assertion by Terry Eagleton.

Williams has explained that in his early novels, he resisted writing with what had become a conventional Welsh verbal exuberance. Simultaneously, he struggled to slip the harness of the 1950s' novel of escape from the working-class community. As he put it, 'the problem was to find a fictional form that would allow the description both of the internally seen working-class community and of a movement of people, still feeling their family and political connections, out of it' (Politics and Letters, New Left ...


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