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The Left in Fiction

About Books

Some old-timers in the Trade Unions together with a few in the rebel fringe of the Labour Party, even a few of the older members of the S.P.G.B. have been heard to claim that certain novels read in their younger days were the means of guiding their steps in the direction of Socialism.

Foremost amongst the books which are accorded this honour is Robert Tressall's 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists." We have been asked a number of times to draw this book to the attention of younger readers of the SOCIALIST STANDARD, although, if a person is already a reader of the SOCIALIST STANDARD he will not glean much education from Tressall's book. But he will get a world of fun and a clear insight into conditions in the building and house decorating trades during the first decade of this century.

Turgenev's "Virgin Soil"

It is a popular misconception of Marxist materialism that it can be used to establish a rigidly determining link between economic factors and appearance of, for example, works of literature. This is a vulgar and mechanistic interpretation of what materialism sets out to explain. There is no law of economic inevitability that provides a formula for a determining link between economic factors and the creative ability that appears from time to time uniquely in the personality of one artist. Nevertheless, the social framework provides the possibilities within which the talent of artists expresses itself and comes to fruition.

Book Review: 'The Day is Coming'

The above is the title of a book by William Cameron (MacMillan, New York). It is the story of a craftsman who commenced work in the 'eighties. The story finishes just before the outbreak of the present war. The book is divided into three periods: the first is concerned with the establishment of the Arts and Crafts Guild in the East End of London; the second describes the transfer and establishment of the Guild in the beautiful little old town of Westencote in the Cotswold Hills, where it flourished for ten years and then collapsed, killed by commercial competition: the third period covers the privations of the craftsman and his family back in London, and the way he climbed up to comfort again.

Edward Upward and the British Communist Party

Edward Upward is the pseudonym of Allan Chalmers**. (This is incorrect. See Note below). He was born in Romford in 1903, educated at Repton School and Corpus Christi College, Cambridge where he obtained a degree in history and English. After a life-time of public school teaching Upward retired to the Isle of Wight, where he still lives.

Upward occupies a minor, but interesting, place in British literature; although his literary career has spanned almost fifty years his output is small, consisting of just six novels. His early writing, however, (was) augmented by contributions to New Country, New Writing and Left Review.

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