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British Communism and the Politics of Literature, 1928–1939


306 Pages, 6 x 9

Formats: Trade Paper

Trade Paper, $35.00 (US $35.00)

Publication Date: December 2011

ISBN 9780850365948

Rights: US & CA

Merlin Press (Dec 2011)

Price: $35.00


This book examines the many important literary critics and theorists associated with the Communist Party of Great Britain in the 1930s. It provides a systematic and critical account of the communist understanding of the politics of literature and assesses the ways in which Party theorists were influenced by the world communist movement. In particular, it shows that British communists were never content simply to restate Soviet ideas about literature, but always developed them in ways that were innovative and sometimes unorthodox.


“There is a large gap on my book-shelves. It is also a gap in the history of literary criticism, the missing story of Britain's first Marxist critics. It looks like British Communism and Literary Theory 1928-1939 is at last going to fill this gap. It is a real triumph: wide-ranging, lively, original and engaged, showing the practical application of literary criticism to politics, rescuing some long-lost reputations from the enormous condescension of posterity and reminding us that there was once a time when the Left believed that literature could help change the world.” —Professor Andy Croft, Queen's University-Belfast

“This is an excellent study of a fascinating phenomenon: the largely forgotten literary critics associated with the Communist Party of Great Britain in the 1930s. Bounds skillfully evokes the political and cultural context in which these theorists wrote, and brings out the distinctive contribution of each of them. Solid research, sharp analysis and good writing make this book a pleasure to read.” —Professor Vincent Geoghegan of Queen's University, Belfast

Author Biography

Philip Bounds is the author of Cultural Studies: A Student's Guide to Politics, Culture and Society.