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This review is taken from PN Review 29, Volume 9 Number 3, January - February 1983.

ANOTHER LEFT Class, Culture and Social Change: A New View of the 1930s, ed. Frank Gloversmith (Harvester) £20.00
Georg Lukács', Essays on Realism, edited and introduced by Rodney Livingstone (Lawrence and Wishart) £9.95

The literature and politics of the 1930s is again on the agenda. Auden has triumphantly survived the attentions of Scrutiny and its friends, Orwell's biographer has recently let us see him more critically than hitherto, and while Louis MacNeice may still be undervalued, the importance of the 'Auden group' as a whole has been made plain. Too plain, perhaps, at the expense of other interests. Both of the books under review are concerned with the activities of a group that has not yet received the attention it deserves: the writers and critics who were members of the Communist Party, or close to it, during the 1930s. At the very least, the Party in Britain offered a point of reference for everyone on the left; for many it offered a point of arrival. Stephen Spender, after all, wrote many book reviews for the Daily Worker, while Auden and the rest all appeared in the Party's literary journal Left Review. The collection of essays edited by Frank Gloversmith attempts to move the balance of interest away from the Auden group and towards the issues as they were defined by the Communist Party's intellectuals. Essays in Realism collects Lukács' essays of the 1930s, and should be read alongside Aesthetics and Politics, published by NLB in 1977, which places some of these essays in the context of the European Marxist debates of the period. Lukács' essays themselves show the limitations of the British intellectuals' work, for their rigour and power far surpass anything ...


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