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Literature and

Politics Today

Literature and
Politics Today
The Political Nature of Modern
Fiction, Poetry, and Drama

M. Keith Booker, Editor

Copyright 2015 by ABC-CLIO, LLC

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Literature and politics today : the political nature of modern fiction, poetry, and drama /
M. Keith Booker, editor.
pages cm
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 978-1-61069-935-8 (hardback) ISBN 978-1-61069-936-5 (e-book)
1. Politics and literatureEncyclopedias. I. Booker, M. Keith, editor.
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EISBN: 978-1-61069-936-5
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AZ Entries
Abrahams, Peter
Achebe, Chinua
African American Literature
African Literature (Anglophone)
African Literature (Francophone)
Akhmatova, Anna
American Literature
Anand, Mulk Raj
Anzalda, Gloria E.
Aragon, Louis
Asian American Literature
Atwood, Margaret
Auden, W. H.
Australian Literature
Bacigalupi, Paolo
Baldwin, James
Baraka, Amiri
Beat Movement
Black Arts Movement
Bond, Edward
Brazilian Literature
Brecht, Bertolt
British Immigrant Literature
British Literature
Bulgakov, Mikhail
Bulosan, Carlos
Canadian Literature (Anglophone)




Canadian Literature (Francophone)

Capek, Karel
Cardenal, Ernesto
Caribbean Literature (Anglophone)
Caribbean Literature (Francophone)
Carpentier, Alejo
Csaire, Aim
Chinese Literature
Cold War
Collins, Suzanne
Cuban Literature
Daro, Rubn
Day Lewis, C.
De Boissire, Ralph
Delany, Samuel R.
Dick, Philip K.
Doctorow, Cory
Doctorow, E. L.
Dos Passos, John
Dr. Seuss
Dreiser, Theodore
Du Bois, W. E. B.
Dystopian Literature
Eastern and Central European Literature
Eliot, T. S.
Fast, Howard
Faulkner, William
Federal Writers Project (FWP)
Fowler, Karen Joy
Fox, Ralph
French Literature
Garca Lorca, Federico
Garca Mrquez, Gabriel
German Literature
Gibbon, Lewis Grassic
Ginsberg, Allen



Gold, Mike
Gordimer, Nadine
Gorky, Maxim
Guilln, Nicols
Harlem Renaissance
Havel, Vaclav
Heinlein, Robert
Hellman, Lillian
Hemingway, Ernest
Hernandez, Amado V.
Hernndez, Miguel
Himes, Chester
Holocaust Literature
Hughes, Langston
Huxley, Aldous
International Literature146
Irish Literature
Isherwood, Christopher
Italian Literature
James, C. L. R.
Jelinek, Elfriede
Jewish American Literature
John Reed Clubs
Jones, Lewis
Joyce, James
Kataev, Valentin Petrovich
Kipling, Rudyard
Ki, Danilo
Koestler, Arthur
Kollontai, Alexandra
Krlea, Miroslav
Kundera, Milan
La Guma, Alex
Lamming, George
Latin American Literature



Latina/o Literature
Le Guin, Ursula K.
Lessing, Doris
LeSueur, Meridel
London, Jack
Lorde, Audre
Lu Xun
Lumpkin, Grace
Magical Realism
Mailer, Norman
Malraux, Andr
Mandelshtam, Osip
Mann, Thomas
Maritegui, Jos Carlos
Mayakovsky, Vladimir
McKay, Claude
Miville, China
Milosz, Czeslaw
Mo Yan
Momaday, N. Scott
Morrison, Toni
Mller, Heiner
Mller, Herta
Nabokov, Vladimir
Naipaul, V. S.
Native American Literature
Neruda, Pablo
New Masses224
Nex, Martin Andersen
Ngug wa Thiongo
OCasey, Sean
Odets, Clifford
Olsen, Tillie
Orwell, George
Ostrovsky, Nikolai


Owen, Wilfred
Platonov, Andrei
Popular Front
Postcolonial Literature
Pound, Ezra
Prison Literature
Proletarian Fiction, American
Pullman, Philip
Revueltas, Jos
Robinson, Kim Stanley
Rolland, Romain
Rushdie, Salman
Russ, Joanna
Russian Revolution
Sandburg, Carl
Sartre, Jean-Paul
Sassoon, Siegfried
Schuyler, George
Science Fiction
Sembne, Ousmane
Senghor, Lopold Sdar
Shaw, George Bernard
Sholokhov, Mikhail
Silko, Leslie Marmon
Silone, Ignazio
Sinclair, Upton
Smedley, Agnes
Socialist Realism (Soviet)
Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr
South African Literature
Spanish Civil War
Spanish Literature
Steinbeck, John
Tolstoy, Alexei




Traven, B.
Tressell, Robert
Tsvetaeva, Marina
Utopian Fiction
Vargas Llosa, Mario
Vizenor, Gerald
Voinovich, Vladimir
Wells, H. G.
West, Nathanael
West, Rebecca
Wiesel, Elie
Williams, William Carlos
Woolf, Virginia
Wright, Richard
Yeats, William Butler
Yezierska, Anzia
Zamyatin, Evgeny


Selected Bibliography
About the Editor and Contributors


During the past few decades, literary studies in the United States have come to be
dominated by approaches that emphasize the social, historical, and political significance of literary works. This development can be attributed both to the exhaustion
of more formalist approaches (such as the New Criticism or deconstruction) and
to specific historical processes that made certain politically charged approaches to
literature suddenly more relevant, as when decolonization eventually led to the
rise of postcolonial studies, the Civil Rights movement helped to spur approaches
focused on race and ethnicity in literature, and Second Wave feminism inspired
gender-based approaches to literature. In addition, the waning of Cold War tensions that had made political approaches to literature difficult to pursue in the
U.S. was followed by the end of the Cold War itself, which not only made political
approaches to literature less difficult to pursue, but even helped to fuel a resurgence
in Marxist criticism, the most politically charged of all approaches to literature.
Such newly prominent political approaches have called attention to the close
connection that has existed between literature and politics throughout Western
history, while also bringing certain marginalized works of literature back into the
cultural center. This is especially the case with modern and contemporary literature, which often deals with political issues related to class, race, and gender that
remain of clear relevance to the contemporary world of the early 21st century. Of
course, much of the most political literature of the first half of the 20th century
was written from perspectives strongly influenced by Marxism, and the chilling
intellectual climate of the Cold War tended to push this literature to the margins
or to suppress it altogether.
This encyclopedia brings together in a conveniently accessible encyclopedia
format a wide variety of information on the relationship between literature and
politics. International in scope, it covers authors and literary phenomena from
the beginning of the 20th century forward, with a special emphasis on literature
written in English, whether from Great Britain and the United States or from other
parts of the world (including Canada, Australia, India, the Caribbean, and Africa)
that have produced literature in English due to the legacy of British colonialism,
a historical phenomenon that is central to the literature of much of the Englishspeaking world. The encyclopedia also includes a secondary emphasis on other
world literatures that are particularly relevant to English-language readers, either
because the issues addressed in these literatures are of particular importance, or
because the authors themselves have been influential in the English-speaking


P r e fa c e

The entries in the encyclopedia are of a number of basic types. The most numerous entries are biographical ones, which summarize the careers of important authors
whose work has explored important political issues and ideas. These entries on
individual authors are supplemented by entries that provide broader surveys of
national literatures or important literary movements (such as Soviet Socialist realism, American proletarian fiction, or postcolonial literature). These entries provide
useful coverage of the relevant phenomena as well as providing gateways to the
entries on individual authors for readers who might not be aware of which authors
participate in which phenomena. The various entries are cross-referenced using a
system of boldfacing; in any entry, the first mention of an item that is also covered
in an entry of its own will be given in boldface.
The entries in the encyclopedia have been written by expert scholars who work
professionally in the field to which the entries are relevant. In that sense, the information provided is the best that could be obtained. However, the length restrictions inherent in a work such as this one require that the information included
here is merely a starting point and should not be taken as complete and comprehensive. In this sense, readers interested in more complete and detailed information should pay serious attention to the Further Reading sections that are included
at the end of the entries and should consult the general, selected bibliography at
the end of the volume.

Born in Vrededorp, in the South African city of Johannesburg, the son of an Ethiopian migr miner and a Cape Colored mother, Abrahams was cast into desperate
poverty following the death of his father. He then lived the life of a street urchin
on the wrong side of the color bar, but his fortunes changed dramatically when he
discovered the Bantu Mens Social Centre in Johannesburg, whose library exposed
him to the African American Harlem Renaissance writers, from whom he took a
fervent black nationalist ideology. He obtained scholarships to two leading Anglican mission schools, where he was drawn to the liberal Christian humanism of the
staff, whose vision of a nonracial democracy provided a critical and redemptive
perspective on South Africa.
The new liberalism of the period was developed by whites in the industrializing Witwatersrand as a response to the threat of black proletarian militancy, and it
tried to convince the black leadership to abandon militancy and rely on education,
moderation, and patience. This depended for its success on the gradual reform of the
racist state apparatus, and was thrown into crisis as white domination rooted itself
more firmly through the 1930s. Thus, while at school, Abrahams was converted to
Marxism, which he described as a miraculous revelation that, unlike liberalism,
offered a radical opposition through organized mass militancy to colonial capitalism.
The three discourses of Christian liberalism, black nationalism, and Marxism
(or Socialism) would weave their way through Abrahamss writing career. His second novel, Mine Boy (1946), merges all three to articulate a radical liberalism relevant to the militant ambitions of the black working class. Abrahams went into
exile in 1939, arriving in London in 1941, where he moved in bohemian left-wing
circles. He was briefly a subeditor at the British Communist Party newspaper, the
Daily Worker, but was increasingly disillusioned with Communists, complaining of
their political intransigence and racism. He was instead drawn to the Independent
Labour Party and what he called its pre-Marxist socialism, which was Christian,
humane, caring. In 1948 he married Daphne Miller; they have three children.
The family moved to Jamaica in 1956, where as a supporter of the social democratic Peoples National Party he achieved success as a journalist and daily commentator on Radio Jamaica, from which he retired at the age of 80. Abrahams has
published youthful collections of short stories and poetry; eight novels, five of
which are set in South Africa; two powerful autobiographies; and two travelogues.
Of his novels, The Path of Thunder (1948) shows the impossibility of cross-racial reconciliation in the face of Afrikaner intransigence. A Wreath for Udomo (1956) controversially identifies the greatest obstacle to African development as a backward

Achebe, Chinua

tribalism. This Island Now (1966) is a critique of neocolonialism in an island

nation modeled on Haiti and Jamaica, while The View from Coyoba (1985) employs
a Jamaican setting to fulfill Abrahamss lifelong interest in the color question; it
advocates a strategic retreat for blacks around the world from the West in order
to build a confident and independent identity. Some of Abrahamss best writing is
contained in his autobiographies, Tell Freedom (1954) and The Coyoba Chronicles:
Reflections on the Black Experience in the 20th Century (2000).
Jean-Philippe Wade
Further Reading
Ensor, Robert. The Novels of Peter Abrahams and the Rise of Nationalism in Africa. Essen:
Verlag Die Blaue Eule, 1992.
Harris, Michael T. Outsiders and Insiders: Perspectives of Third World Culture in British and
Post-colonial Fiction. New York: Peter Lang, 1992.
Wade, Jean-Philippe. Song of the City and Mine Boy: The Marxist Novels of Peter
Abrahams. Research in African Literatures 21.3 (1990): 89101.
Wade, Michael. Peter Abrahams. London: Evans, 1972.

ACHEBE, CHINUA (19302013)

One of the most prominent and influential African novelists and essayists, Chinua
Achebes international recognition grew from acclaim for his first novel, Things Fall
Apart (1958). Read and studied around the world either in the original English
or in one of many translations, the novel dramatizes in an accessible and incisive
manner the integrity of traditional African culture and the divisive, destabilizing
impact European colonialism and Christian evangelism had on it. Achebes reputation has flourished due to the dignity and insight that characterize not only Things
Fall Apart but also his four other novels his short stories, poems, essays, and childrens books; the many interviews he has granted; and his work as a broadcaster,
speaker, editor, and teacher. In addition, his essay An Image of Africa (1976),
which describes what he sees as the racist aspects of Joseph Conrads Heart of Darkness, has become one of the most controversial and widely read works of literary
criticism in the past several decades.
During his career, Achebe has been a stern critic of colonial and postcolonial
Western domination and exploitation of Africa, and the cultural, racial, and economic arrogance on which such domination rests. Nevertheless, he has been periodically criticized for being too mild in his strictures against the West and for writing
mainly in English. Certainly Achebes varied oeuvre attests to a humane vision that
honors the arts and progressive contributions of many culturesincluding those
of the Westand that resists narrow political categorization. All the same, Achebe
has presented a clear-eyed view of the cultural, political, and economic ravages
imposed on the non-Western world by Western systems of power and influence
since the colonial era, while casting a withering eye on the injustices and failures
of leadership in Africa, particularly those in his native Nigeria.

Achebe, Chinua

Achebe was christened Albert Chinualumogu Achebe on November 16, 1930,

in Nneobi, in the southeastern part of colonial Nigeria. The son of Christian missionaries, Chinua was nevertheless highly attentive to the vestiges of traditional
Igbo culture around him. He showed exceptional academic talent from an early
age and read avidly. His formal education followed the British colonial and church
curricula available to promising students, and included study of African cultures
and languages. He attended St. Philips Central School, Ogidi, and Nekede Central School, and later won prestigious scholarships to the Government College
Umuahia and University College, Ibadan, from which he graduated in 1953 with
specialties in English, religious studies, and history.
In 1954, Achebe was hired as a producer for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service,
which became the Nigerian Broadcasting Corporation (NBC) in 1961. In that year,
NBC appointed him director of external broadcasting, and the same year saw his
marriage to Christiana Chinwe Okoli, with whom he has raised two daughters and
two sons (and who presently teaches, like her husband, at Bard College in New
York). Achebes work at NBC came to end in 1966 when persecution of the Igbo
forced him to leave Lagos. He returned to southeastern Nigeria, the homeland
ofamong othersthe Igbo people, and in 1967 this part of the nation declared
itself the independent Republic of Biafra.
Achebe supported, and served as a spokesman for, Biafra during the Nigerian
Civil War (19671970), but the cause was doomed. Biafra suffered catastrophic
losses to the federal government with its vastly superior resources, and among the
civilian population alone, more than 1 million may have died from malnutrition
and disease. Although the Achebe family survived the war, barely managing to
stay out of harms way, they endured devastation of various kinds. Achebe lost,
for example, his longtime friend and associate Christopher Okigbo, an important
Nigerian poet of Igbo ancestry, who was killed while serving in the Biafran army.
The war itself became a focus of Achebes creative attention in both poetry and
short stories. One volume of poetry, Beware, Soul-Brother and Other Poems, appeared
in 1971 (and was later published in the United States, in a revised and expanded
edition, as Christmas in Biafra and Other Poems), while Achebes volume of short
fiction, Girls at War and Other Stories, was published in 1972 and includes not only
works directly related to the war but also stories that he had written well before it.
Achebes novels have become one of the best-known bodies of work in modern world literature. Things Fall Apart portrays the British and Christian missionary
forces arrayed against coherent cultural survival in the Igbolands, and Arrow of God
(1964), Achebes third novel, treats the attempts by a traditional head priest, Ezeulu,
and other members of a recently colonized Nigerian village to accommodate the
new colonial regime and religion while maintaining aspects of their own cultural
heritage. Achebes second novel, No Longer at Ease (1960), takes up the story of the
Okonkwo family two generations after the demise of Okonkwo, the protagonist of
Things Fall Apart. Set in the late 1950s, No Longer at Ease depicts Obi Okonkwos
embrace of British education, Western modernity, and a concept of Nigeria that in
essential ways has already been defined by the soon-to-depart colonizer. His ultimate
disgrace prophesies the danger that lies ahead for the postcolonial African nation.

A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

A Man of the People (1966) is a political satire detailing the corruption of postcolonial politics, leading to a military takeover of a newly independent, democratic, but corrupt African nation, obviously based on Nigeria. In fact, the events
so closely anticipated those that unfolded in Nigeria immediately after the novels
publication that Achebe was actually accused of involvement in the coup. In the
much later Anthills of the Savannah (1987), Achebe further elaborates on some of
the same dilemmas he raised in A Man of the People: the ruthless drive for political
power in an African nation, the processes that corrupt that power, and the heavy
impact of Western influences on those processes. Still, one source of hope that
may be discerned in the volatile context that Achebe portrays in both novels is the
goodness and decency of some exceptional and ordinary people. Yet individual
goodwill is clearly insufficient, and while Achebe offers in this novel no elaborate
model for African political success, he does make clear that the bane of so many
struggling African nations is the recurring consolidation of power by autocratic
rulers or ruling elites.
Badly hurt in an automobile accident in Nigeria in 1990, Achebe spent his latter
years paralyzed from the waist down. He continued to be active, however, teaching
at Bard College until 2009, when he moved to Brown University. He also spoke out
on various causes and, in 2012, published There Was a Country: A Personal History of
Biafra, which renewed international interest in the legacy of the Nigerian Civil War.
Thomas J. Lynn
Further Reading
Achebe, Chinua. Home and Exile. New York: Oxford UP, 2000.
Achebe, Chinua. Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays. New York: Doubleday, 1989.
Achebe, Chinua. Morning Yet on Creation Day: Essays. New York: Doubleday, 1975.
Achebe, Chinua. The Trouble with Nigeria. Oxford: Heinemann, 1984.
Booker, M. Keith, ed. The Chinua Achebe Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2003.
Carroll, David. Chinua Achebe: Novelist, Poet, Critic. 2nd ed. Houndmills, UK: Macmillan,
Ezenwa-Ohaeto. Chinua Achebe: A Biography. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1997.
Gikandi, Simon. Reading Chinua Achebe: Language and Ideology in Fiction. Portsmouth, NH:
Heinemann, 1991.
Innes, C. L. Chinua Achebe. New York: Cambridge UP, 1990.
Killam, G. D. The Writings of Chinua Achebe. London: Heinemann, 1977.
Ogede, Ode. Achebe and the Politics of Representation. Trenton, NJ: Africa World P, 2001.
Wren, Robert M. Achebes World: The Historical and Cultural Context of the Novels of Chinua
Achebe. Washington, D.C.: Three Continents P, 1980.

African American literature expresses 300 years of resistance, reformation, and revolutionary response to U.S. racism, gender inequality, and capitalism. It has been most
politically efficacious when leading or conjoined to widespread social justice movements, such as abolitionism, Communism and Socialism, civil rights, and feminism.

A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

Black literature has often served a vanguard function in eras of progressive political
change. Likewise, aggressively political African American writing has suffered from
backlash: the post-Reconstruction era, the Cold War purges of the postwar period,
and the postcivil rights era of the 1980s and 1990s saw a loss of political significance in African American literature. Formally, African American literature often
relies on repetition, revision, and reconstruction of earlier themes, techniques, and
ideas, many of them also political in nature. African American poet and critic Amiri
Baraka has referred to this strategy as the changing same, a creative dialectical tension between tradition and improvisation. In recent years, African American literature has developed an international audience and a sizable commercial market. It has
developed its own canon, critical schools of thought, and benchmarks; it has been
especially central to the establishment of liberal multiculturalism in the university.
For most of the 19th century, African American literary productivity in vernacular form remained primarily oral, though written slave narratives from the period
have drawn considerable critical attention. Du Boiss call for attention to sorrow
songs (spirituals) in The Souls of Black Folk in 1903 was part of an aesthetic and
political reconsideration of earlier literary subgenres, and coincided with other
retrospective gestures by black authors: Paul Laurence Dunbars dialect poems,
often written in idioms reminiscent of white authorial renderings of black voices
during slavery; Charles Chesnutts Conjure Woman (1899), stories drawn from slaverys oral traditions; and James Weldon Johnsons recasting of early black sermons
and creation tales. Significantly, later blues musicians would also return to and
codify in musical form slave legends and tall talesfor example, the Ballad of John
Henry, the Signifying Monkey, Stagoleeand a variety of work songs and field hollers. Gospel music would both inspire and repel the secular themes of the so-called
devils music. Robert Johnsons blues classic Hellhound on My Trail, recorded
in 1936, would invokeindirectly and directlyfugitive slave rhymes like Run,
Nigger, Run. More direct literary adaptation of 19th-century orature also came in
the form of 20th-century black poetry. Sterling Browns Strong Men recuperated
the rhythms and protest intent of work songs; Zora Neale Hurstons anthropological studies, such as Mules and Men (1935), recuperated legends like High John the
Conqueror; and during the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration oral history
project and producer Alan Lomaxs field recordings of work songs, shouts, and
hollers signaled a Depression-era populisms reclamations of folk tradition. Ralph
Ellisons Invisible Man (1952) is a compendium of allusions to tricksters and liars,
as well as allusions to vernacular black culture in general. During the Black Arts
movement of the 1960s, Baraka, Larry Neal, and a generation of poets would use
19th-century orature as a touchstone for a new protest vernacular, captured in
poetry and prose and social histories like Barakas Blues People.
Written black literature would rise to prominence in the early 20th century
thanks to publications such as Crisis, from the NAACP; founded in 1910, Crisis
dedicated many of its early articles to the antilynching campaign that had given
impetus to the organization. Crisis itself became a vanguard vehicle for publication of black poetry and short fiction. Much more than The Souls of Black Folk, his
seminal 1903 book, Du Boiss stewardship of Crisis was responsible for the public
shaping of black intellectual and artistic discourse.

A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

The Harlem Renaissance, or New Negro Movement, synthesized and absorbed

many of the intellectual currents preceding it, while producing a polyphony of new
political ideas catalyzed by world events. As scholars like William Maxwell have
shown, the Renaissance arguably begins with the publication of the Jamaican poet
Claude McKays If We Must Die in the radical African Blood Brotherhood newspaper The Liberator. The poem was written to commemorate the Red Summer of
1919 in which black workers in northern industries were slaughtered like hogs /
Hunted and pennd in an inglorious spot. McKays sonnetsinformed by his native
anticolonialism, Bolshevist sympathies, and daring experiments with literary form
foreshadowed the numerous roots and routes, as Paul Gilroy calls them, of 20thcentury black cultural politics. Post-1919 African American literature was utterly
changed by the globalization of black intellectual experience, earth-shattering events
like World War I and the Russian Revolution, and the concomitant world interest
in the question of race in the United States. Alain Lockes 1925 New Negro anthology, for example, argued for Harlem as the political and cultural equal to Irelands
Dublin; Lockes own contribution to the volume contradictorily argued for both a
nationalist and an internationalist understanding of black culture. Marcus Garveys
Negro World newspaper, popular in Harlem in the 1920s, was a forum for his ethnocentric Pan-Africanism and its allure to working-class blacks in particular. Du Boiss
undervalued 1928 novel Dark Princess described an imaginary coalition between a
black train porter and an Indian Socialist revolutionary with ties to the Comintern.
Jean Toomers Cane (1923), though produced outside of Harlem (four months as a
superintendent at a black school in Sparta, Georgia, inspired the book), included
lynching and postWorld War I racist hysteria in its purview.
Likewise, black women writers were central to Harlems renaissance and offered
the beginnings of a black protofeminism. This took two forms: female participation as leaders in pioneering black cultural projects, and coded if unmistakably
feminist writing. Jessie Fausetauthor of the novel Plum Bun: A Novel Without
a Moral (1929)gained cultural prominence as fiction editor for Crisis in 1919;
Gwendolyn Bennetts poems were included in James Weldon Johnsons 1922 Book
of American Negro Poetry, and her artwork appeared on the covers of both Crisis
and Opportunity, the journal of the Urban League. Nella Larsen, of mixed Scandinavian and black ancestry, wrote two of the best passing novels of the century:
Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929). Especially in Passing, Larsen also used the
passing theme to connote black womens bisexuality or lesbianism. A young Zora
Neale Hurston, meanwhile, collaborated with Langston Hughes, Wallace Thurman, and Bruce Nugent to produce Fire!!, a single-issue magazine that included
short stories by both Hurston and Gwendolyn Bennett. The Hughes-Hurston collaboration took other forms, which emblematized their mutual interest in African
American folk culture, including blues and jazz. Hughess first book of poems,
The Weary Blues, was a companion to his seminal 1926 essay The Negro Artist
and the Racial Mountain, in which he invoked the tom-toma black vernacular musical expressionas the sounding board for his own poetic ideas. In the
late 1920s, Hughes and Hurston coauthored Mule Bone, a play based on African
American folk style and stories. Their collaboration ended angrily, but of the

A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

Harlem Renaissance writers, Hurston and Hughes went on to earn the most lasting reputations. Hurstons 1937 novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, a small and
unappreciated book in her time, was much later discovered by Alice Walker, who
quickly made Hurston an ancestral muse for contemporary black feminists. Their
Eyes is a tour de force bildungsroman of intense lyricism. It is especially ahead of
its time regarding the representation of female sexual development and domestic
violence. On the other hand, on many political questions Hurston was a conservative. She was strongly anti-Communist and often mocked black nationalist aspirations. Hazel Carby has noted that the restoration of Hurstons literary reputation in
the 1980s and 1990s may reveal her usefulness to an American culture in search
of conservative black icons.
Many African American writers, like their white counterparts, moved left during
the 1930s. Langston Hughes, who was a fellow traveler to the Communist Party,
wrote poems like Christ in Alabama, using lynching as the occasion for musings
on the role of revolution and Communism in black American struggle. Other writers who were veterans of the 1920s likewise cast their work in both nationalist
and internationalist, or at least proletarian, directions. Sterling Browns first book,
Southern Road (1932), includes paeans to black work songs, prisoners, and blues;
and Countee Cullen, best known for his romantic poems on cultural heritage,
wrote Scottsboro, Too, Is Worth Its Song in the wake of the notorious arrest and
trial of nine black boys accused of raping two white women on an Alabama train.
Meanwhile, the Great African American Migration, the persistent racial terror
of Jim Crow, the Depression, and the leftward swing of American labor politics
helped to reconstitute African American literary expression. Emblematic of all of
these swings was the work of Richard Wright. His first book, Uncle Toms Children (1938), documented the horrors of Jim Crow in taut, dense, symbolic stories
undergirded by his belief in Communisms ability to combat racism. Written while
a member of the Chicago Communist Partys John Reed Clubs, the stories anticipated Native Son, Wrights 1940 blockbuster. That book deepened and moved
north Wrights examination of racism, poverty, and modernity. Protagonist Bigger
Thomas is sentenced to death for a murder he accidentally commits and a rape
he does not. Native Son made Chicago, and the northern city, the new crucible for
examining the making of the black proletariat and underclass after migration. It
also tested the limits of the proletarian novel, failing to produce a revolutionary
resolution to Biggers tragic circumstances.
Unquestionably, Wright influenced a generation of African American authors
committed either to an explicit leftist analysis of race or to social-protest literature
and artistic experiment, especially in prose narration. Willard Motley, in Knock
on Any Door (1946), recasts the naturalism of Native Son in the story of an Italian
American, Nick Romano; Ann Petrys 1946 novel The Street rewrites the social
violence of Native Son as racial and sexual violence against black women, replacing Bigger with Lutie Johnson, an upwardly mobile single mother beset by dire
isolation and false consciousness. William Attaways underrated proletarian classic
Blood on the Forge documents the recruitment of three southern black migrants to
work as strikebreakers for Pennsylvania steel. Ralph Ellisons Invisible Man (1952)

A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

adopts the existential motifs of Native Son and Wrights story The Man Who Lived
Underground. It also expands the modernist vocabulary of Native Son, dense with
allusions to Dostoevsky, Gothic fiction, existential philosophy, and surrealism.
James Baldwin, meanwhile, established his critical voice and emerging presence
with Everybodys Protest Novel, a 1952 essay criticizing Wright for producing a
reductive and, in Baldwins view, reactionary representation of black-white relationships tied to melodramatic and sentimental paradigms. Wrights own later
work, like his 1945 memoir Black Boy, disavowed his communist past. Collectively,
Native Son and its descendantsand the debates surrounding themilluminated
the complex relationship of African American literature to communism and radicalism during and after the Cold War. For committed leftist writers like Frank
Marshall Davis, Lloyd Brown, Alice Childress, Paul Robeson, and W. E. B. Du
Bois, communism, anti-imperialism and anticolonialism represented a necessary
continuity with old Left traditions like 1920s Garveyism and 1930s communism.
For Cold Warriors like Ellison, and to a lesser extent Baldwin, black radicalisms
public past became a dangerous vulnerability. Indeed, Barbara Foleys scholarship
demonstrating Ellisons deliberate anti-Communist revisions of Invisible Man are
perhaps the best textual evidence available of how McCarthyism, the Red Scare,
and a general zeitgeist of anti-Communism left fingerprints on African American
literatures most important texts during the 1940s and 1950s.
During what has been dubbed the Black Arts era, black nationalism, black cultural
nationalism, and vestigial reconfigurations of earlier political and aesthetic battles
confronted the new dynamisms of civil rights protest and Second Wave feminism,
producing a variety of brilliant and diverse new literary voices. The most influential
books of the eraboth politically and culturallywere black male protest books like
Malcolm Xs Autobiography (1965) and Eldridge Cleavers Soul on Ice (1968), which
offered rites of passage from poverty to prison to education and political empowerment as means of combating white supremacy. The cultural companion to the Black
Power and black nationalist themes of these books was the Black Arts movement,
which called for a synthesis of ethics and aesthetics, or social protest and artistic
innovation. Its seminal manifestoes were Amiri Baraka and Larry Neals anthology
Black Fire (1968), Maulana Karengas Black Art: Mute Matter Given Force and Function, and Addison Gayle Jr.s 1971 book The Black Aesthetic. Yet the most compelling
literary innovations, and the most ardent statements of Black Artss newness, came in
black womens expressions of feminist, lesbian, and internationalist themes. Audre
Lordes poems, essays, and autobiographiesbeginning with her first collection,
The First Cities (1968)explore the relationships among domestic racism, sexism,
and homophobia, and U.S. imperialism. Lorde, like Wright in the 1940s, was a singular catalyst for formal and thematic experimentation with revolutionary themes.
After 1968, Sonia Sanchez, June Jordan, Lucille Clifton, Jayne Cortez, and Nikki
Giovanni each produced books of poetry, often in an orally inflected vernacular,
speaking to black womens position in relationship not only to Black Power and
black nationalist struggles but to the nascentand predominantly whitenational
womens movement. Alice Walker, whose second book of poems, Revolutionary Petunias (1972), preceded such fame-making novels as The Color Purple (1982), coined

A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

the term womanism to describe a feminism inclusive of women of color, and representative of the sexual, social, and spiritual lives of black women.
Walkers womanism was also a response to Second Wave feminisms dominance
by white middle-class women. Walker was in fact codifying feminist themes in the
work of black women novelists and prose writers like Paule Marshall (Browngirl,
Brownstones, 1959), Sherley Anne Williams (Dessa Rose, 1986), and Maya Angelou
(I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, 1970). Collectively, these works by black women
form a bridge between Black Arts experimentation and a feminist literature that has
arguably had the most long-standing impact on African American literature of the
contemporary period. Indeed Toni Morrisons first novel, The Bluest Eye (1970),
an examination of sexual violence, incest, and white beauty standards foisted upon
working-class black girls in a prefeminist era, bespeaks the historical roots and
reverberations of these themes across generational lines. Morrison was not affiliated with either the Black Arts movement or Second Wave feminism, but her work
gathered up and historicized their themes, interwoven with a dense, mythic imagination; a resolute interest in folklore and music; and a historical novelists attention
to period and generational detail. Each of Morrisons novels explores a moment
from the African American past, dialectically perceiving its relationship to the present without succumbing to racial or cultural nostalgia. Of these, Song of Solomon
(1974) and Beloved (1987) are likely to be remembered as most outstanding. The
latter, a fictional retelling of the infanticide of Margaret Garner, an escaping Kentucky slave, was primarily responsible for Morrison winning the Nobel Prize for
Literature in 1992, the first African American so honored.
Morrisons critical and commercial success is emblematic of African American
literatures comfortable place within the mainstream of postcivil rights, postintegrationist U.S. society. Contemporary African American literature both keeps alive
its own major traditions and intersects with dominant and emergent cultural forms
within the United Statesand external to it. Its wide-ranging subjects include
black middle-class life, immigration and repatriation, postmodernity, genre fiction,
hip-hop culture, queerness, transnational identity, as well as traditional themes
like slavery, colonialism, and racism. The most astonishing commercial and critical lightning rod for the broad success of contemporary black writing is August
Wilson, whose work is now widely performed in theaters in the United States.
Wilson, born and raised in Pittsburgh, the setting of several of his plays, structured
his career around a cycle of plays examining individual decades in African American history. The best-known of theseThe Piano Lesson (1987), Fences (1985),
Ma Raineys Black Bottom (1984), and Joe Turners Come and Gone (1986)use
music (especially blues), sports, labor, and family as organizing motifs, and convey a blend of traditional naturalism, indebted to Tennessee Williams and Eugene
ONeill, and to black cultural expression. Wilson argued for a nationalist aesthetic
in black theater, continuing a commitment forged during the Black Arts and Black
Power movements, out of which Wilson formed his own cultural and political
Contemporary African American literature also reflects what critic Paul Gilroy
calls a diaspora consciousness, reflective of contemporary U.S. migration patterns


A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

and the widening sphere of black intellectual discourse. This is reflected both in
the preeminence of writers born outside the United States now residing here, and
the continuing reflection on the spatial, geographic, and temporal experience of
race. The Barbadian American author Paule Marshall, the Antiguan Jamaica Kincaid, the Jamaican-born Michelle Cliff, and the British national Caryl Phillips
have each established the triangular, or transversal, relationship among African,
Caribbean, and U.S. black experience as their literary domain. They have likewise blurred genresshort story, novel, memoir, autobiographyto elucidate the
permeable borders of identity particular to what Gloria Anzalda calls mestizaje
consciousness. Like hip-hop, jazz, or reggae, literature produced by these writers
carries the cultural accent marks of transatlantic black experience. Collectively,
these authors have pushed the national and thematic boundaries of African American literature, complicated essentialist or nation-bound understandings of race,
and forced American readers to more complex analyses of the role of the United
Statesand the Western worldin processes of colonialism, imperialism, slavery,
and migration. In a different vein and genre, namely science fiction, writers like
Octavia Butler, Samuel Delany, and Walter Mosley (best known for his detective
and crime fiction) have used time travel, utopia, and transmigration to explore the
shifting ground of racial identity and race in a contemporary climate increasingly skeptical of the biological, scientific, or otherwise epistemological complex
of its understanding. Placelessness and the science-fiction imaginary, in the work
of these writers, allows the allegorization of diasporic themes via utopian fiction,
dystopian literature, or otherwise unreal settings. Still others, such as Gayl Jones,
write in a more realistic vein, but move their stories easily from the United States
to other worlds. Joness novel Corregidora (1975), for example, shifts between Kentucky and Brazil while remaining focused on the legacy of slavery.
Still other contemporary authors continue exploration of familiar historical
problematics beholden to more conventional principles of psychological and social
realism, yet inflected by dominant cultural tendencies like postmodernism, new
historicism, and metafiction. Charles Johnsons The Oxherding Tale (1974) and Middle Passage (1990) use slavery and the slave-narrative genre to interrogate and
implicate multiple Western philosophical ideas in the establishment of slavery.
Likewise David Bradleys The Chaneysville Incident (1981) is a fictional retelling of a
historical study of 13 runaway slaves who chose death over recapture. John Edgar
Widemans fictionmuch of it centered in Pennsylvania, where he grew up and
attended collegeis a continuous and contiguous meditation on race and time
and uses metafictional technique to complicate the relationship between narrative
and history. His story Fever fictionalizes historical accounts of a yellow-fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793, while Philadelphia Fire (1990) attacks black bourgeoisie politics under the Wilson Goode administration and fictionalizes the 1985
bombings of the MOVE headquarters in Philadelphia. Wideman is also an accomplished memoirist whose fiction contains heavy doses of autobiography. Brothers
and Keepers (1984) is a searing indictment of the U.S. justice system spun out of
his brother Robbies arrest and incarceration. The common reworking of African
American history in these books represents the idea of re-memory, as described

A f r i c a n A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

by Toni Morrison in Belovednamely the importance of actively reimagining and

learning from the African American past in order to frame and move beyond it.
The political register of contemporary African American literature is difficult to
gauge. Few contemporary black authors articulate a specific political agenda or
framework from which to read their writing. Fewer still, outside of the academy,
identify as public intellectuals on topical issues. Important exceptions might be Alice
Walkers outspoken criticism of genital mutilation in Africa; Toni Morrisons critical
writings on the Clarence ThomasAnita Hill trial; Walter Mosleys book-length meditation on race and capitalism, Workin on the Chain Gang (2000); and Amiri Barakas
attempt at political commentary, Someone Blew Up America, in the wake of 9/11.
But the widespread public call for censure of Baraka for what was perceived as his
anti-Semitism and knee-jerk anti-imperialism also underscores African American literary and political cultures uneasy relationship to the broad contemporary moment
of U.S. multiculturalism. The latter has advanced the purchase and purchasing
power of black writers while normalizing the rules of its production. Black romance,
confessional, self-help, and genre literature, like the detective novel, now constitute
a growing portion of the black U.S. book market. Film adaptations of black bestsellers, from Beloved to Terry McMillans 1992 Waiting to Exhale, and the commercial
success of young black playwrights like Suzan Lori-Parks have likewise forced traditionally political themes into new packages and venues, and created multicultural
audiences whose own politics are difficult to discern easily. For the moment, African
American literature occupies a modestly oppositional space within American culture. Its critical and commercial fortunes seem assured if not its political direction.
Bill V. Mullen

Further Reading
Baraka, Amiri. Blues People: Negro Music in White America. New York: William Morrow,
Carby, Hazel. The Politics of Fiction, Anthropology and the Folk: Zora Neale Hurston.
Zora Neale Hurstons Their Eyes Were Watching God: A Casebook. New York: Oxford
UP, 2000.
Du Bois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches. 1903. London: Penguin, 1996.
Foley, Barbara. From Communism to Brotherhood: The Drafts of Invisible Man. Left of the
Color Line: Race, Radicalism, and Twentieth-Century Literature of the United States. Ed.
Bill Mullen and James Smethurst. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2003. 163182.
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., and Nellie McKay, eds. The Norton Anthology of African American
Literature. New York: Norton, 2004.
Gayle, Addison, Jr., ed. The Black Aesthetic. New York: Doubleday, 1971.
Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Double Consciousness and Modernity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1993.
Hill, Patricia Liggins, ed. Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of the African American
Literary Tradition. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1998.
Maxwell, William J. New Negro, Old Left. New York: Columbia UP, 1999.
Walker, Alice. In Search of Our Mothers Gardens: Womanist Prose. New York: Harcourt, 1983.



A f r i c a n L i t e r at u r e ( A n g l o p h o n e )

A F R I C A N L I T E R AT U R E ( A N G L O P H O N E )
One of the most important phenomena of world culture in the second half of the
20th century was the rise to global prominence of African literature. This is particularly true of the African novel, though many important works of political drama
have also been produced by such African playwrights as Nigerias Wole Soyinka
and South Africas Athol Fugard, while poets such as Nigerias Christopher Okigbo
and Ugandas Okot pBitek have produced powerful political statements as well.
The intense political engagement (often from radical perspectives) of much African
literature injected vital energies into global culture at a time when the political climate was decidedly inimical to the production of radical literature in the West. In
particular, African novelists have engaged with the colonialist traditions of Western
historiography in an attempt to contribute to the development of viable postcolonial identities of their new nations.
African writers from former British colonies have generally produced their
works in English. Among Anglophone novelists, writers such as Kenyas Ngug wa
Thiongo Nigerias Festus Iyayi, and South Africas Alex La Guma have written
from radical perspectives heavily influenced by Marxism. Meanwhile, writers such
as Nigerias Chinua Achebe and Ghanas Ayi Kwei Armah have critiqued both the
Western colonial domination of Africa and the corruption of postcolonial societies
from perspectives that might be considered Left liberal. Women writers have also
been prominent in African literature, with novelists such as Buchi Emecheta, Bessie
Head, and Tsitsi Dangarembga producing politically engaged works that have been
particularly strong in their treatment of gender and the plight of African women.
Finally, the works of writers such as Fugard, La Guma, Peter Abrahams, Andr
Brink, and Nadine Gordimer have occupied a special position in the development
of politically engaged African literature because of their opposition to apartheid, an
opposition that ultimately contributed to the downfall of that baleful phenomenon.
Achebe led the way in the development of the Anglophone African novel with
Things Fall Apart (1958), a searching exploration of the destruction of traditional
Igbo society due to the British colonial invasion of what is now Nigeria. Arrow of
God (1964) continues this critique of colonialism, while novels such as No Longer at
Ease (1960), A Man of the People (1966), and Anthills of the Savannah (1987) explore
the chaos and corruption of postcolonial Nigeria. Armahs The Beautyful Ones Are
Not Yet Born (1969) is another crucial exploration of postcolonial corruption in
West Africa, as is Iyayis Violence (1979), while Iyayis Heroes (1986) focuses on the
political context of the bloody civil war that wracked Nigeria from 1967 to 1970.
Ngug is the leading figure in the development of the East African novel, while
joining Achebe as an important essayist whose nonfiction works have helped to elaborate the politics of postcolonial African literature. Ngug s work began from a liberal
humanist critique of colonialism, but has gradually moved toward a Marxist critique
(heavily influenced by the work of Frantz Fanon) of postcolonial Kenyan society. He
has produced such Anglophone novels as Weep Not, Child (1964), The River Between
(1965), A Grain of Wheat (1967), and Petals of Blood (1977). Ngug is also an important playwright, and the 1977 production of his satirical play Ngaahika Ndeenda
(written in Gikuyu with Ngug wa Mirii; I Will Marry When I Want) marked a crucial

A f r i c a n L i t e r at u r e ( A n g l o p h o n e )

turning point in his career. In response to the play he was arrested, and during detention he became committed to the idea of writing his future novels in Gikuyu, feeling
that the production of African literature in European languages might contribute to
the ongoing cultural domination of Africa by its former colonial rulers. In prison,
Ngug covertly authored a novel in Gikuyu, Caitaani Mutharaba-ini, published after
his release to brisk sales in 1980, followed in 1982 with the publication of his own
English translation, Devil on the Cross. His Gikuyu novel Matigari (1986, English
translation by the same title in 1987) draws heavily on traditions of Gikuyu oral
narrative to link the ongoing need for revolutionary change in Kenya to the legacy of
the anticolonial Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s.
South African Anglophone literature got off to an early start with Peter
Abrahamss Song of the City (1945) and Mine Boy (1946), which show the influence
of his political commitment with their overtly Marxist themes of opposition to
class-based oppression under industrial capitalism (which, in South Africa as in
the United States, is inseparable from racial oppression). Later novels, such as The
Path of Thunder (1948), Wild Conquest (1950), A Wreath for Udomo (1956), and This
Island Now (1966), explored other dimensions of this issue within the context of
colonialism and neocolonialism. Abrahamss Tell Freedom (1954) was the first published autobiography by a black South African. Alex La Gumalike Abrahams, a
Communist Party activistis the most important radical South African novelist
to date, producing a series of searing critiques of apartheid within the context of
a larger critique of the class-based inequities of capitalism, all of which were published abroad because they were banned in South Africa. His early novels include
A Walk in the Night (1962), And a Threefold Cord (1964), and The Stone Country
(1967). In the Fog of the Seasons End (1973), perhaps La Gumas most notable
work, explores the possibilities for armed resistance to apartheid, representing a
step toward a Fanonian advocacy of violent revolution that can be seen as a significant turning point in La Gumas career. La Gumas brief final novel, Time of the
Butcherbird (1981), is his most symbolic, employing intensely suggestive images in
a further elaboration of his support for armed rebellion against apartheid.
Gordimer is perhaps South Africas best-known novelist on an international scale,
partly because of her 1991 Nobel Prize for Literature. In novels such as The Late
Bourgeois World (1966), A Guest of Honour (1970), and The Conservationist (1974),
Gordimer criticizes social conditions in South Africa in increasingly strong terms,
though she continues to concentrate on the damaging effects of apartheid on South
Africas white population. The later Julys People (1981) is an imaginative study of
a future South African society in which a black revolution has toppled white rule.
Novels such as Burgers Daughter (1979) and A Sport of Nature (1987) are particularly strong as political novels because their sweeping scope (which encompasses
both whites and nonwhites) so effectively places South African society as a whole
within its historical context, the latter envisioning the end of apartheid only a few
years before it actually occurred. In novels such as The Pickup (2001), Gordimer
extended her examination of South African society into the postapartheid era.
M. Keith Booker



A f r i c a n L i t e r at u r e ( F r a n c o p h o n e )

Further Reading
Booker, M. Keith. The African Novel in English. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1998.
Booker, M. Keith. Writing for the Wretched of the Earth: Frantz Fanon and the Radical
African Novel. Rereading Global Socialist Cultures After the Cold War: The Reassessment
of a Tradition. Ed. Dubravka Juraga and M. Keith Booker. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.
Booker, M. Keith, and Dubravka Juraga. The Reds and the Blacks: The Historical Novel in
the Soviet Union and Postcolonial Africa. Socialist Cultures East and West: A PostCold
War Reassessment. Ed. Dubravka Juraga and M. Keith Booker. Westport, CT: Praeger,
2002. 1130.
Gugelberger, Georg M., ed. Marxism and African Literature. London: James Currey, 1985.
Ngara, Emmanuel. Art and Ideology in the African Novel: A Study of the Influence of Marxism
on African Writing. London: Heinemann, 1985.
Udenta, Udenta O. Revolutionary Aesthetics and the African Literary Process. Enugu, Nigeria:
Fourth Dimension, 1993.

A F R I C A N L I T E R AT U R E ( F R A N C O P H O N E )
The term Francophone African literature is widely used to designate sub-Saharan African literature written in French by authors living in Africa or abroad. It
derives from Francophonie, the 19th-century neologism coined by the French
geographer Onsine Reclus (18371916). In the African context, the concept
gained relevance in the 1960s under the aegis of Lopold Sdar Senghor and
Habib Bourguiba, two African presidents who advocated the creation of an organization linking all the nations sharing the French language and culture. In a way,
their idea was a response to the creation of the British Commonwealth (1965), an
organization gathering former British colonies. Thereafter, a series of Francophone
institutions were created: ACCT (Agence de Coopration Culturelle et Technique)
in 1970, CIRTEF (Conseil International des Radios-Tlvisions dExpression
Franaise) in 1977, AIMF (Association Internationale des Maires Francophones) in
1979. With the emergence and consolidation of literary writings in Francophone
countries, it was worth classifying and studying these new authors and their work.
At various stages, critics started speaking of Quebecois literature, Belgian Francophone literature, Maghrebian literature, French Caribbean literature, and Francophone African literature. Although some critics have expressed their uneasiness
in defining African literature along the Anglophone-Francophone linguistic divide
reminiscent of colonial history, Francophone African literature is widely used as a
descriptive category.
During the colonial era, Francophone African literature was dominated by the
negritude movement, although some critics trace its beginnings to Ren Marans
publication of Batouala (1921). In the 1930s, black students from the Caribbean
and African French colonies rebelled against the assimilation policies of their education and vied to revalorize their common African cultural roots, which colonization had systematically devalued. Aim Csaire, Lon-Gontran Damas, and
Senghor led this movement, which not only galvanized black students but appealed
to prominent members of the French literary establishment, such as Jean-Paul

A f r i c a n L i t e r at u r e ( F r a n c o p h o n e )

Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Andr Gide, Marcel Griaule, Michel Leiris, and Andr
Breton. From this revolt rose a whole body of writings (especially poetry) that
celebrated the African roots of black cultures long considered manifestations of
barbarism. Sartres Black Orpheus, the preface to Senghors Anthologie de la nouvelle posie ngre et malgache dexpression franaise (1948), highlighted the main
ideas of this literary movement. The review Prsence africaine, published in both
French and English, was created to serve as one of the main means of transmission
(1947). This collectivization of suffering in the name of the race fostered highly
visible cultural activities, including two meetings of the Congress of Black African
Writers in Paris (1956) and in Rome (1959); it nevertheless showed weaknesses in
accounting for the wide range of black experience with the traumas of colonialism.
Negritude literature focused on extolling blackness while denouncing derogatory
colonial policies; Anglophone writers concentrated their attention on the main differences between Western and local cultures. This difference in perception is often
illustrated by Wole Soyinkas terse reply to the narcissistic tendency of negritude:
the tiger doesnt proclaim its tigerness; it jumps on its prey. In the 1950s, novels
by Francophone writers were published, including those by Camara Laye, Mongo
Beti, Ousmane Sembne, and Ferdinand Oyono.
Decolonization was a triumph for negritude writers who, in many instances,
played important roles in the struggle for freedom. In the earlier days of independence, the need to denounce the forced assimilation of African masses and the
positive reassessment of the so-called primitive cultures gave way to close scrutiny
of the elites performance. When euphoria subsided, issues forced a redirection
of energy on pressing problems besieging new nations in need of consolidation.
Hamidou Kane, Ahmadou Kourouma, and Yambo Ouloguem were among the
prominent figures in this new literary phenomenon.
In the postindependence era, the urgency of problems facing the new nations
created the need to scrutinize ones specific location. Therefore, Caribbean writers
and critics gradually realized the importance of focusing on their Caribbeanness
(such as Edouard Glissant in Le Discours antillais, 1981), resulting from a sedimentation of elements drawn from African, European, and Asian cultures. Going
even further than Glissant, the Caribbean trio of Bernab, Chamoiseau, and Confiant (Eloge de la crolit, 1989) claimed the era of crolit, whereby attachment to
their creole culture took precedence over a far-removed romantic Africa. Likewise,
African writers went beyond racial issues to deal with problems specific to their
communities. In their case, the use of European languages has raised questions
on the essence of African literature and on being African. Some critics, such as
the Kenyan writer Ngug wa Thiongo, saw the Africans experiences as unique to
all and suggested their subsequent writings as falling into two categories, namely
Europhone and African literatures.
Since independence, Francophone African literature has evolved along a trajectory
similar to its English counterpart. In the 1960s, many writers dealt with the clash of
cultures, disillusionment with the native elites, and the latters gross mismanagement
of public affairs. This trend culminated into what is known as Afropessimism. The
1980s saw the rise of women writers, pioneered by the Senegalese novelist Mariama



A k h m at o va , A n n a

B, whose Une Si Longue Lettre (1981) marked the watershed moment when women
found and used their own voices. Award-winning authors such as Aminata Sow Fall,
Werewere Liking, Calixthe Beyala, Ken Bugul, and Vronique Tadjo have become
familiar names in literary circles. In the 1990s and 2000s, reflecting the multidimensional crisis rocking the continent, Francophone writers such as Kourouma,
Dongala, Bugul, Tadjo, and Monenembo have focused on the fate of the child, not
as perceived in Layes L Enfant noir but as victimized by a deceitful adult world bent
on exploiting his or her innocence. Francophone literature has grown in scope with
seasoned writers and refined works in drama, poetry, novels, essays, and folktales.
However, as in earlier years, society remains its main focus.
Kasongo M. Kapanga

Further Reading
Cornevin, Robert. Littratures dAfrique noire de langue franaise. Paris: PU de France, 1976.
Irele, Abiola. The African Experience in Literature and Ideology. London: Heinemann, 1981.
Kesteloot, Lilyan. Anthologie ngro-africaine: Panorama critique des prosateurs potes et dramaturges noirs du XXe sicle. Vanve, France: EDICEF, 1993.
Miller, Christopher. Theories of Africans: Francophone Literature and Anthropology in Africa.
Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1990.
Ngandu Nkashama, Pius. Littratures africaines (de 1930 nos jours). Paris: Silex, 1984.

A K H M AT O VA , A N N A ( 1 8 8 9 1 9 6 6 )
Among the greatest of all Russian poets, Akhmatova composed subtly nuanced
explorations of personal experience. Her poems of the 1910s and early 1920s grew
out of the Russian realist novels of the 19th century. Restrained miniatures composed by a young woman of privileged background, these lyrics contain precise
imagery, controlled rhythms, and an ironic depiction of love. Along with Nikolai
Gumilev (Akhmatovas first husband, executed in 1921) and Osip Mandelshtam,
Akhmatova was associated with acmeism, a poetic movement that opposed the
otherworldliness of symbolism. Mandelshtams description of acmeism as a longing for world culture applies especially to Akhmatovas later poetry. The poetic
cycles Requiem (Rekviem) and Poem Without a Hero (Poema bez geroya) are epic in
scope, saturated with European literary allusions. Both works were composed over
a period of many yearsthe former primarily between 1935 and 1940, the latter
from 1940 until 1962. These cycles of historical and personal tragedy highlight
the role of the poet as prophet and truthful witness. In one poem from Requiem,
Akhmatova writes that one hundred million people scream through her tortured
mouth. Famously, and unlike many contemporary intellectuals of similar sensibility, Akhmatova chose not to emigrate.
By the 1940s, much of the Soviet public lionized Akhmatova, considering her
poetic voice to be the true voice of Russia. Histories of the Stalinist era routinely
refer to her poems about the Great Terror of the 1930s (Requiem); prisoners of the
gulags would secretly keep handwritten copies of her poems. Akhmatovas early

A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

volumes of lyrical poetry gained acclaim in the 1910s. After the Russian Revolution, the Soviet authorities quickly came to see her poetry as counter to the new
political and social order. Between 1925 and 1940, Akhmatova was not allowed
to publish her poems. During World War II it was useful to the state for such a
publicly revered figure to be allowed some visibility, but in 1946 Akhmatova was
expelled from the Union of Soviet Writers. Politburo member Andrei Zhdanov
officially denounced her work as individualistic...the poetry of an overwrought
upper-class lady...half nun, half harlot. Akhmatovas son was arrested several
times in the 1930s and 1940s and spent years in prison camps and exile. (His principal crime: he was the son of Akhmatova and Gumilev.) Circumstances improved
for Akhmatova after the Thaw in the 1950s, and her son was released in 1956.
She was allowed to publish in the following decade, and was even able to travel
to Italy and England to receive honors. Generally regarded as the greatest living
Russian poet, she became a mentor to young writers such as Joseph Brodsky. From
Modiglianis 1911 sketch (drawn when they met in Paris) to written depictions in
memoirs of numerous authors, Akhmatova appears as a regal figure. Because of
her dignity and moral courage throughout many years of hardship, Akhmatova is
beloved in Russia not only as a great poet but also as a hero.
Joy Dworkin
Further Reading
Amert, Susan. In a Shattered Mirror: The Later Poetry of Anna Akhmatova. Stanford, CA:
Stanford UP, 1992.
Haight, Amanda. Anna Akhmatova: A Poetic Pilgrimage. New York: Oxford UP, 1976.
Reeder, Roberta. Anna Akhmatova: Poet and Prophet. New York: St. Martins, 1994.

At the turn of the 20th century, American literary expressions of political themes
generally focused on the repercussions of the large-scale industrialization and
urbanization that marked the second half of the 19th century. Naturalism and
realism were the predominant modes of American political literature, as evidenced
by the journalistic prose of Lincoln Steffens and Ida Tarbell, the autobiographical
narratives of Booker T. Washington and Henry Adams, or the profusion of socially
conscious fiction written in the manner of mile Zola. From 1900 to 1914, writers such as Theodore Dreiser, Jack London, Frank Norris, and Upton Sinclair
produced fiction that used naturalistic techniquesinformed, with the exception
of Norris, by Socialist leaningsto critique aspects of postGilded Age America.
Although late in their respective careers, Mark Twain and Henry James were still
writing politically polemical works during this time. Twain vociferously opposed
imperialism and satirized American politics for much of the last decade of his life.
James examined American culture from a more genteel but no less disapproving
stance. All of these writers in some measure helped to lay the political and aesthetic
foundations for the modernists that followed in the wake of World War I.



A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

Much like its British and European counterparts, American modernism was
a fractious entity. As a result, the politics of its various branches varied widely in
terms of intensity, salient issues, and the degree to which aesthetics was privileged
over ideology. Although there is little in American literature from this period that
is comparable to Soviet Socialist realism in terms of being pure political art
work by writers of proletarian fiction in the1930s comes closeAmerican literature between the world wars was nevertheless heavily politicized.
Composed of Communists, Socialists, and other ideological fellow travelers, the
diverse group that might be considered writers of proletarian fiction had existed
since the early 1900s and was bolstered by the Russian Revolution in 1917. These
writers became most prominent, however, after the onset of the Great Depression.
Authors such as John Steinbeck, Sinclair Lewis, Eugene ONeill, and Thornton
Wilder are the most critically recognized members of this group, having all won the
Nobel and/or Pulitzer Prize. Other proletarian writers including John Dos Passos,
Dreiser, James T. Farrell, Josephine Herbst, Meridel LeSueur, and Tillie Olsen
were widely read during the 1920s and 1930s. In addition, a noteworthy group
of critics and editors, including Jack Conroy, Mike Gold, and Granville Hicks
many of whom were also novelists and poetshelped to promote the work of
leftist writers through their work with such publications as Anvil, New Masses,
and Partisan Review. The group of writers/critics known as the Agrariansmany of
whom helped formulate New Criticismwere also vigorously opposed to industrial capitalism, though from the Right.
The concerns of the proletarian writers often intersected with those of the
Harlem Renaissance and other writers of African American literature, especially
W. E. B. Du Bois, Langston Hughes, Claude McKay, and Richard Wright, all
of whom were at some point affiliated with the Communist Party. Although not all
Harlem Renaissance writers were overtly politicized, the goal of cultural uplift
for African Americans melded together issues arising from race, class, and gender
politics, especially among the more outspokenly leftist authors and those affiliated
with black nationalism. Although the Harlem Renaissance only partly succeeded
in creating a self-sustaining African American literaturein part because of political infighting among its principalsit paved the way for later politically incisive
African American writers such as James Baldwin, Amiri Baraka, Ralph Ellison,
Chester Himes, Audre Lorde, and Toni Morrison, as well as such systematic
efforts as the Black Arts movement.
By comparison with the preceding groups, the so-called high modernists
such as Willa Cather, T. S. Eliot, William Faulkner, Ernest Hemingway, Ezra
Pound, and Gertrude Steinwere more aloof from politics. During the 1920s,
their treatment of political themes tended to emphasize the psychological and
sociological aftereffects of World War I. This changed somewhat by the mid-1930s,
when, for example, Hemingway started writing about the Spanish Civil War and
Pound infamously wrote pieces sympathetic to Mussolini and the Italian Fascists.
After World War II, significant political themes for American writers were
found in both the domestic and international realms. The development of nuclear
weapons and the concurrent onset of the Cold War spurred a variety of literary

A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

expressions of political dissent. Howard Fast, Dashiell Hammett, Lillian Hellman, and Arthur Miller were among those writers persecuted by the forces of
McCarthyism and anti-Communism in the early 1950s, and each responded in
their subsequent work. Science fiction experienced a golden age during the 1950s
and 1960s, with writers such as Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke,
Philip K. Dick, Robert Heinlein, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. writing politically themed works in that genre. Dystopian literature, especially those
with nuclear themes, were also common during this period, especially within the
popular culture forms of the B movie and pulp paperback.
Many prominent modernist writers and even some former proletarian writers
remained active and highly visible in the first two decades after World War II,
though in many cases their politics had been tempered somewhat by a political
climate intolerant of leftist dissent. The new political voice belonged primarily to
a younger group of novelists including Robert Coover, E. L. Doctorow, William
Gaddis, Joseph Heller, Norman Mailer, and Thomas Pynchon, all of whom produced works of postmodernism that examined aspects of the American political
landscape in a Cold War context.
The civil rights movement and the growing counterculture of the 1960s
partly inspired by the work of Allen Ginsberg and other members of the Beat
movementserved to expand the scope of politics in literature over the final third
of the century. At the same time, the womens movement brought new attention
to gender issues and helped propel women writers such as Toni Morrison to the
forefront of American literature. Discontent over the Vietnam War helped to solidify this dissent against the political and literary establishment. As works by members of previously underrepresented groups became more common in American
literature, issues of race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, and gender entered the literary
mainstream as never before, thereby openly challenging the notions of literary
canon and canonicity. Furthermore, feminist criticism, Marxist criticism, new historicism, and cultural studies all radically transformed the discourse of American
literature by helping establish the intellectual validity of previously marginalized
Derek C. Maus
Further Reading
Booker, M. Keith. The Modern American Novel of the Left: A Research Guide. Westport, CT:
Greenwood, 1999.
Foley, Barbara. Radical Representations: Politics and Form in U.S. Proletarian Fiction, 1929
1941. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1993.
Gilbert, James. Writers and Partisans: A History of Literary Radicalism in America. 1968. New
York: Columbia UP, 1992.
Mullen, Bill, and Sherry Lee Linkon, eds. Radical Revisions: Rereadings of 1930s Culture.
Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1996.
Pizer, Donald. Twentieth-Century American Literary Naturalism: An Interpretation. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1992.



A n a n d , M u l k Ra j

Rideout, Walter B. The Radical Novel in the United States, 19001954. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1956.
Wald, Alan M. Exiles from a Future Time: The Forging of the Mid-Twentieth-Century Literary
Left. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2002.
Washington, Robert E. The Ideologies of African American Literature: From the Harlem Renaissance to the Black Nationalist Revolt. Lanham, MD: Rowman and Littlefield, 2001.
Weisenburger, Steven. Fables of Subversion: Satire and the American Novel, 19301980.
Athens: U of Georgia P, 1995.

ANAND, MULK RAJ (19052004)

Born in Peshawar in what is now Pakistan, the son of a Hindu coppersmith, Anand
studied at the University of Punjab, then traveled to England, where he studied
at Cambridge University and the University of London, from which he received
his doctorate in philosophy in 1927. Anand lived largely in England from 1924
to 1945 (when he returned permanently to India) and was much influenced by
the cultural and (leftist) political milieu there. In the late 1930s, he fought in the
International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War. Still, his work is very much rooted
in Indian culture, as can be seen from his first (and probably still best-known)
novel, Untouchable (1935)a searing critique of the Indian caste system. At the
same time, the books description of the humiliations suffered by Bakhaa young
Indian Untouchable, fated by his low birth to work as a latrine sweeper, can also
be read as a broader Socialist critique of class-based inequality.
Anands second novel, Coolie (1936), is reminiscent of the British working-class
and Socialist literature that reached a high point during the 1930s. It traces the
experiences of Munoo as he undergoes a variety of forms of exploitation. The child
of impoverished parents in a rural village, he is orphaned early on and forced to
go, at age 14, to the town of Shampur to work as a much-abused household servant in order to support himself. As the book proceeds, he moves on to the small
city of Daulatpur, where he works in a pickle factory and then as a coolie seeking
odd jobs in the citys market. Eventually he comes to Bombay, where he works
in a large British-owned textile mill, in the end moving to Simla to become the
servant of Mrs. Mainwaring, a somewhat disreputable, though socially ambitious,
Anglo-Indian woman.
Along with R. K. Narayan and Raja Rao, Mulk Raj Anand is usually identified as
one of the three leading Indian novelists writing in English prior to the 1980s, when
Salman Rushdie brought new international prominence to English-language novels by Indian writers. Anand is also often identified as Indias most politically committed writer. Saros Cowasjee argues that no Indian writer of fiction in English
comes anywhere near Mulk Raj Anand in providing a social and political portrait of
India from the time of the Delhi Durbar of 1911 to the demise of the Indian princes
following Indian Independence in 1947 (96).
Other novels written in Britain include The Village (1939), Across the Black
Waters (1940), and The Sword and the Sickle (1942). Anand remained productive
and extremely active in various literary and cultural organizations after his return
to India. His later work also includes poetry and essays, while his later novels take

A n z al d a , Gl o r i a E

a more introspective and autobiographical turn. The best-known of these is probably The Private Life of an Indian Prince (1953).
M. Keith Booker
Further Reading
Cowasjee, Saros. Studies in Indian and Anglo-Indian Fiction. New Delhi: HarperCollins, 1993.
Dhawan, R. K., ed. The Novels of Mulk Raj Anand. New Delhi: Prestige, 1992.
Rajan, P. K. Mulk Raj Anand: A Revaluation. New Delhi: Arnold, 1994.
Sharma, E. K., ed. Perspectives on Mulk Raj Anand. Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Humanities P,
Sinha, Krishna Nandan. Mulk Raj Anand. New York: Twayne, 1972.

See African Literature (Anglophone).
See Caribbean Literature (Anglophone).
ANZALDA, GLORIA E. (19422004)
Born in the Rio Grande Valley (south Texas) to sixth-generation Mexican Americans, Gloria Anzalda was a leading cultural theorist and a highly innovative
writer. Her work has challenged and expanded previous views on queer theory,
cultural studies, ethnic identities, feminism, composition, lesbian studies, and U.S.
American literature. As one of the first openly queer Chicana authors, Anzalda
has played a major role in redefining lesbian and Chicano/a identities. And as coeditor of two groundbreaking multicultural feminist anthologies, This Bridge Called
My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color (1981) and This Bridge We Call Home:
Radical Visions for Transformation (2002), she has played an equally vital role in
developing inclusionary multicultural feminist movements.
Anzalda explores a diverse set of issues in her writings. Through prose, poetry,
and fiction, she exposes the destructive effects of externally imposed labels and
critiques the interlocking systems of oppression that marginalize people who
because of their class, color, gender, language, physical (dis)abilities, religion, and/
or sexualitydo not belong to dominant cultural groups. Other key issues include
Chicana/o identities, queer and lesbian sexualities, butch/femme roles, bisexuality,
altered states of reality, transformational identity politics, and homophobia and sexism within both the dominant U.S. culture and Mexican American communities.
Anzaldas Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza (1987) is her most widely
acclaimed book and was named one of the 100 best books of the century by both
Hungry Mind Review and Utne Reader. In the book, Anzalda blends personal experience with history, and social protest with poetry and myth, creating what she calls



Aragon, Louis

autohistoria-teora. Interweaving accounts of the racism, sexism, and classism

she experienced growing up in South Texas with historical and mythic analyses
of the successive Aztec and Spanish conquests of indigenous gynecentric peoples,
Anzalda simultaneously reclaims her political, cultural, and spiritual Mexican/
Nahuatl roots and invents a mestizaje identity, a new concept of personhood that
synergistically combines apparently contradictory Euro-American and indigenous
traditions. Borderlands/La Frontera has significantly influenced how contemporary
scholars think about border issues, ethnic/gender/sexual identities, and conventional literary forms.
In her last writings, such as Interviews/Entrevistas (2000) and This Bridge We Call
Home, Anzalda develops these ideas further, creating what she calls spiritual
activisma synthesis of traditional spiritual practices and political acts. She draws
on indigenous Mexican belief systems to create theories of nos/otras, nepantla,
conocimiento, and new tribalism. Anzaldas publications also include Making
Face, Making Soul/Haciendo Caras: Creative and Critical Perspectives by Feminists-ofColor, a multigenre edited volume used in many university classrooms throughout
the country, and two bilingual childrens booksFriends from the Other Side/Amigos
del otro lado and Prietita and the Ghost Woman/Prietita y la Llorona (1996).
AnaLouise Keating
Further Reading
Alarcn, Norma. Chicana Feminism: In the Tracks of The Native Woman. Living Chicana
Theory. Ed. Carla Trujillo. Berkeley, CA: Third Woman P, 1998. 37182.
Barnard, Ian. Gloria Anzalda Queer Mestisaje. MELUS 22 (1997): 3553.
Keating, AnaLouise. Women Reading Women Writing: Self-Invention in Paula Gunn Allen, Gloria Anzalda, and Audre Lorde. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1996.
Yarbro-Bejarano, Yvonne. Gloria Anzaldas Borderlands/La Frontera: Cultural Studies, Difference, and the Non-Unitary Subject. Cultural Critique 28 (1994): 528.
Zita, Jacquelyn N. Anzaldan Body. Body Talk: Philosophical Reflections on Sex and Gender.
New York: Columbia UP, 1998. 16583.

ARAGON, LOUIS (18971982)

Poet, novelist, essayist, and political activist, born Louis Andrieux in Paris. Early
in his career, Aragon showed a strong interest in Dadaism, surrealism, and other
avant-garde movements, founding in 1919, along with Andr Breton, the important surrealist review Littrature. He published his first collection of poetry, the
surrealist-inspired Feu de jolie (Bonfire); his first novel, Paris Peasant (Le Paysan de
Paris), 1926, also reflected his interest in surrealism. In 1927, Aragon joined the
French Communist Party, for which he became an important public spokesman in
subsequent years. In 1928, he met the Russian-born Elsa Triolet, sister-in-law of
Vladimir Mayakovsky and herself a productive novelist. Triolet would eventually
become Aragons wife, as well as an important support and inspiration for him in
the following decades.

A s i a n A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

Aragons Communist commitment led him to visit the Soviet Union in 1930;
when he returned, he published a poem influenced by Mayakovsky, The Red Front
(Le Front rouge), 1930, which advocated revolution in France. In turn, Aragon was
arrested and given a five-year suspended sentence. His growing political commitment
caused him to break with the surrealists in 1933 and travel to Spain to fight for the
Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War. Aragons important four-volume
novel sequence Le Monde rel (The real world), 19341945all volumes have been
translated into Englishwas a historical saga that covered the period from 1880 to
the end of the 1920s, envisioning the decline of the bourgeoisie and the historical
movement toward proletarian revolution from a Marxist perspective, much in the
mode of Socialist realism. Subsequent novels, including the six-volume sequence Les
Communistes (19491951) and Holy Week (La Semaine sainte), 1958, were vaguely
autobiographical, while maintaining strong support for the Communist Party.
Aragons collections of poetry, including Le Crve-coeur (The heartbreak), 1941,
and La Diane franaise (The French Diana), 1945, expressed the same political perspective, while showing a strong patriotic support for a France then under German
occupation, which Aragon opposed as a leader of the French Resistance. Other
collections, including Les Yeux dElsa (Elsas eyes), 1942, and Le Fou dElsa (Elsas
madman), 1963, focused on love poetry devoted to his wife, though maintaining
a political dimension as well. Aragon remained a strong proponent of the French
Communist Party during the decades following World War II, editing Les Lettres
franaises, the partys weekly journal of arts and literature, from 1953 to 1972. He
served on the central committee of the French Communist Party from 1950 to
1960 and was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize in 1957.
M. Keith Booker
Further Reading
Adereth, M. Aragon, the Resistance Poems: Le Crve-coeur, Les Yeux dElsa and La Diane
franaise. London: Grant and Cutler, 1985.
Adereth, M. Elsa Triolet and Louis Aragon: An Introduction to Their Interwoven Lives and Works.
Lewiston, NY: Mellen, 1994.
Kimyongr, Angela. Socialist Realism in Louis Aragons Le Monde rel. Hull, UK: U of Hull
P, 1995.

Although Asian American authors have been producing works in English for over
a century, dating back to the Chinese Canadian writer Sui Sin Far, the term Asian
American literature reflects the impact of the Asian American civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s. A brief overview of the field might mark three phases
in its development: the activist period of the 1970s, in which texts and authors
from earlier in the century were recovered; the mainstreaming period of the 1980s,
in which contemporary Asian American literature found a popular audience; and
the expansion of the genres boundaries from the 1990s to the present.



A s i a n A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

In 1974, a group of writer-activists produced the groundbreaking anthology

Aiiieeeee! which constituted the first attempt to collect literary works by Asian
Americans and to define a new genre. In their preface, the editors discuss the
exclusion of Asian American writers from participation in American literary
history, and they passionately exclaim, AIIIEEEEE!!!! It is more than a whine,
shout, or scream. It is fifty years of our whole voice (viii). Several of the works
excerpted in Aiiieeeee! were later republished in their entiretyfor example, John
Okadas No-No Boy (1979) and Hisaye Yamamotos Seventeen Syllables and Other
Stories (1988). By recovering authors like Okada, who portrays the upheaval in
the Japanese American community following World War II, and Carlos Bulosan,
who depicts the struggles of Filipino migrant workers in the 1930s, the editors
reveal the contours of an Asian American literary tradition. They also define Asian
American authorship in terms of a sensibility that is distinct from that of Asia or
mainstream United States (viii). Frank Chin, one of the editors of the anthology, is
significant on two other countsas one of the first Asian American playwrights,
and for his heated debates with Maxine Hong Kingston over the proper representation of Chinese American culture (for the latter, see his introductory essay to
The Big Aiiieeeee!). With the publication of The Woman Warrior (1975), Kingston
became the best known Asian American writer to date, garnering a diverse readership far larger than that of the more politically confrontational Aiiieeeee! Kingstons
story of growing up both Chinese American and female, and her intermingling
of fact and fiction, proved extremely significant to a body of literature that was
actively seeking to define its concerns.
Throughout the 1980s and into the 1990s, Asian American literature both
gained a wider commercial audience and established its presence in the academy.
Key events in the growing popularity of Asian American literature include the
enormous success of Amy Tans novel The Joy Luck Club (1989) and David Henry
Hwangs M. Butterfly (1988), the first play by an Asian American to reach the
Broadway stage and the winner of that years Tony Award for best play. In poetry,
Cathy Song won the Yale Younger Poets award for Picture Bride (1983), while Jessica Hagedorn edited Charlie Chan Is Dead (1993), an extensive collection of short
fiction by contemporary Asian American writers. The Big Aiiieeeee! an expanded
anthology of Chinese American and Japanese American literature, came out in
1991. On the academic front, Asian American studies programs began spreading
to institutions across the United States, and Elaine Kim published the first fulllength study of Asian American literature in 1982. With the increased commercial
success and academic legitimacy of the field, scholars began to explore in depth the
intricate relationships between politics and aesthetics in Asian American literature.
As Asian American literature has proliferated and begun to command a wider
readership, questions of how to define that literature have grown increasingly
complex. Chinese American, Japanese American, and Filipino American authors
were the first to be considered in early discussions of the genre; more recently,
writers of South Asian and Southeast Asian descent have expanded the boundaries of the field. Works like Bharati Mukherjees The Middleman and Other Stories
(1988) as well as the pieces collected in Watermark: Vietnamese American Poetry

At w o o d , Ma r g a r e t

and Prose (1998) have been important contributions in this regard. Meanwhile,
other authors have explored questions of sexuality and queer identity, and still
others have broadened the geopolitical borders of Asian American literature. Jessica Hagedorns Dogeaters (1990), for example, is a novel that represents Filipino
experience in a transnational frame. Recent Asian American authors, in contrast to
their predecessors, have sought to represent a wide range of experiences and identities in their works and have been less concerned with the idea of shattering stereotypes (see, for instance, the novels of Korean American author Chang-rae Lee).
In academic circles, the most significant discussion of Asian American diversity
has been Lisa Lowes essay, Heterogeneity, Hybridity, Multiplicity: Marking Asian
American Differences (first published in Diaspora in 1991 and republished in a
slightly revised version in Lowes Immigrant Acts). Lowe embraces the term Asian
American but insists that we also see how differences of class, national origin, and
gender inform that identity. The wealth of scholarship on Asian American literature
over the past decade reflects ongoing attempts to understand the complexities of
this ever-evolving genre.
Nancy Cho
Further Reading
Chin, Frank. Come All Ye Asian American Writers of the Real and Fake. The Big Aiiieeeee!
An Anthology of Chinese American and Japanese American Literature. Ed. Frank Chin et al.
New York: Penguin, 1991.
Chin, Frank, Jeffery Paul Chan, Lawson Fusao Inada, and Shawn Hsu Wong, eds. Aiiieeeee!
An Anthology of Asian-American Writers. Washington, D.C.: Howard UP, 1974.
Hagedorn, Jessica, ed. Charlie Chan Is Dead: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American
Fiction. New York: Penguin, 1993.
Kim, Elaine. Asian-American Literature: An Introduction to the Writings and Their Social Context. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1982.
Li, David Leiwei. Imagining the Nation: Asian American Literature and Cultural Consent. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1998.
Lowe, Lisa. Immigrant Acts. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1996.
Wong, Sau-ling Cynthia. Reading Asian American Literature: From Necessity to Extravagance.
Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1993.

AT W O O D , M A R G A R E T ( 1 9 3 9 )
Poet, fiction writer, and essayist, Atwood is the most renowned English-Canadian
writer of the last quarter century. Her celebrity began in the 1960s when her sharpedged poetry and satirical fiction wittily reflected the anti-patriarchal grievances
and liberatory aspirations of Second Wave feminism. Born in Ontario to Nova
Scotian parents, Atwood read widely in modern and Canadian poetry; fantastic literature; and classical, folk, and Aboriginal legends, which remain the bones of her
allusive and often parodic texts. At the University of Toronto, she was influenced by
the myth criticism of Northrop Frye, which sought out the fundamental patterns



A u d e n , W. H .

of plot and character beneath a variety of individual texts. Atwood described a

national typology of such patterns in Survival: A Thematic Guide to Canadian Literature (1972), which argues that Canadian literature expresses victimization and
survival rather than heroism and triumph. This complemented a widespread liberal-left nationalism that saw Canada itself as a victim of (earlier) British and (latterly) American cultural and economic imperialisms. Although Atwoods typology
has been judged too homogenizing, a widespread tendency to view Canadian literature as anti-imperialist has endured.
The critical representations of patterns of relationships between men and women
in Atwoods poetryas in the collections Power Politics (1971) and You Are Happy
(1974)and in her novelsbeginning with The Edible Woman (1969)have been
considered feminist in their explicit critique of patriarchal values and institutions.
This critique is exemplified in her dystopian novel The Handmaids Tale (1985),
which portrays a future society ruled by a religiously fundamentalist, politically
totalitarian, and sexually misogynist patriarchy. Atwood returns to a futurist mode
in a trilogy of novels that centrally deal with an act of bio-terrorism that releases a
devastating plague designed to wipe out the human race so it can be replaced by a
genetically engineered substitute. The trilogy includes Oryx & Crake (2003), The
Year of the Flood (2009), and MaddAddam (2013).
Glenn Willmott
Further Reading
Ingersoll, Earl, ed. Margaret Atwood: Conversations. Willowdale, ON: Firefly, 1990.
Wilson, Sharon Rose. Margaret Atwoods Fairy-Tale Sexual Politics. Jackson: U of Mississippi
P, 1993.

A U D E N , W. H . ( 1 9 0 7 1 9 7 3 )
The political phase of Audens work is usually ascribed to the 1930s, when he was
prominent among British intellectuals who took up leftist causes like the Spanish
Civil War and felt the urgency of choosing between fascism and democratic socialism as potential European futures. Indeed, Samuel Hynes has famously dubbed the
politically engaged British writers of this period the Auden generation. Yet such
periodization is misleading, both in passing over Audens sometimes hesitant and
contradictory feelings regarding the political role of the bourgeois poet or artist,
and in overlooking strong continuities between Audens early political sentiments
and the centrality of moral and ethical issues in his later work.
Among Audens political activities in the 1930s are his work with Rupert Doones
Group Theatre and with John Grierson and the GPO Film Unitboth utilizing art
for the purposes of advocating social changeand two months in Spain aiding the
Valencia government by writing and broadcasting anti-Franco propaganda. For
other intellectuals of his generation, he served as a beacon and incited their own
political activism. Audens political concerns, his hope for a Socialist future and for

A u d e n , W. H .

international democracy, are reflected in many of his essays during the 1930s, such
as Psychology and Art To-day; The Good Life, published in a volume titled
Christianity and the Social Revolution; and Democracys Reply to the Challenge of
Dictators. In the latter two, he refers to politics and social democracy, respectively,
as necessitating a change in the environment rather than in the organism inhabiting it. His poems during this period were part of an effort to bridge the divide
between private life and political, global realities. In the poem Out on the lawn I
lie in bed (1933), he notes the disjunction between dire political developments
abroad and the complacent comforts of British middle-class life. Yet even Spain,
his most emblematically political poem, revealsand this despite its large-scale
rhetorical shape and forward-propelling rhythmthe ambiguous nature of the
revolutionary To-morrow and the problematic aspects of the struggles To-day.
Audens later writings and interviews reveal that he was conflicted about the
nature of revolutionary practices and his role in them. His poems in the late 1930s
explore the nagging question of the role of the poet in public life and as a historical
force, as in the well known In Memory of W. B. Yeats or September 1, 1939,
written on the occasion of Hitlers invasion of Poland. In a 1955 essay, he concluded that he and his fellow leftists in the 1930s had been interested in Marx for
more psychological than political reasons, seeing Marx, like Freud, as a tool for the
unmasking of middle-class ideologies.
While the political aspect of Audens activities and writings appear to fade with
his move to the United States and his conversion in 19391940, his poetic work
demonstrates a continuity of interests. Earlier concerns for the just city (Spain),
indifference to suffering (Muse des Beaux Arts), the fate of modern man (The
Unknown Citizen), and democracy and universal love (Sept. 1, 1939) are echoed
in later poems that possess the same politico-ethical strain: a critique of authoritarian officialdom (Under Which Lyre), of violence (The Shield of Achilles), of
the potential misuse of science (After Reading a Childs Guide to Modern Physics
and Moon Landing).
The question of Audens politics is therefore not easily settled, for while he may
no longer have participated directly in political causes after the 1930s, his political
perspective is present in his moral tone and his continued concern with the problems of contemporary lifeits alienations, its potential pleasures, and the role of
the artist expressing them.
Yal R. Schlick
Further Reading
Brodsky, Joseph. On September 1, 1939. Less than Zero. New York: Farrar, Straus and
Giroux, 1986. 30456.
Hynes, Samuel. The Auden Generation: Literature and Politics in England in the 1930s. New
York: Viking, 1977.
Mendelson, Edward. Early Auden. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1981.
Mendelson, Edward. Late Auden. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999.



A u s t r al i a n L i t e r at u r e

While the cultures of the indigenous peoples of Australia are among the oldest
in the world, a written Australian literature dates only from the establishment of
a British penal colony at Sydney in 1788. This event was in part the result of
political actions elsewhere; the American Revolution meant that Britain could no
longer transport her convicts to America. The political implications of the British
occupation of Australia under the legal fiction that it was terra nullius, or land
that belonged to no one, have, however, only been fully realized in the last decade,
after a prolonged and continuing struggle by indigenous Australians for civil rights
and recognition of their prior ownership of the land. These struggles have been
reflected in writing by both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians.
During the 19th century, while a few writers, especially those familiar with similar struggles in Ireland, protested against Aboriginal dispossession, most shared
the general belief that the indigenous peoples would die out with the coming of
civilization. Issues of greater concern were abolition of convict transportation,
achievement of self-government, extension of the electoral franchise, and, at the
end of the century, federation of the colonies into the Commonwealth of Australia.
After a rapidly suppressed rebellion by Irish convicts near Sydney in 1804, the
only major civil uprising occurred at Ballarat in Victoria in 1854 during the gold
rushes. In protest at the undemocratic and corrupt system of miners licenses, a
group of miners armed themselves and set up a stockade, but were also soon
overwhelmed by government forces. The leader of the rebellion escaped and later
became a Victorian parliamentarian, but the Eureka Stockade and its associated
rebel flag of the Southern Cross have been extensively mythologized in much later
poetry, fiction, drama, and film.
Nineteenth-century Australian newspapers and magazines published much satirical prose and verse about local political affairs, but most of this has been forgotten today. Influenced by Dickens and Hugo, Marcus Clarke wrote an epic novel
denouncing the horrors of the convict system, His Natural Life (1874), though the
system was by then long in the past. A later writer, Price Warung, wrote darkly ironic
tales set in convict times for the radical Sydney magazine, the Bulletin (1880 ),
published during the 1890s with a nationalist, heavily anti-British and republican
agenda. Henry Lawson, best known now for his short stories of bush life, also contributed much revolutionary verse to the Bulletin and other radical papersamong
these Faces in the Street, on the plight of city workers. The 1890s, marked by a
major drought and economic depression, saw the growth of the trade union movement and the foundation of the Australian Labor Party as well as the achievement
of female suffrage. Louisa Lawson, Henrys mother, established a radical womens
newspaper, The Dawn (18881905), to further feminist causes, while other women
writers, including Rosa Praed, Tasma, Ada Cambridge, Barbara Baynton, and Miles
Franklin, cast quizzical eyes over womens lives in bush and city. William Lane published a polemical novel set in Sydney, The Workingmans Paradise (1892), arguing
that Australia was now anything but this, and later led a band of followers to establish a short-lived Communist settlement called New Australia in Paraguay.

A u s t r al i a n L i t e r at u r e

One of those who spent time in Paraguay was the poet Mary Gilmore. After
returning to Australia, she spent 23 years as editor of the womens page of the
Worker newspaper, publishing many collections of poems on political and other
topics, including Aboriginal dispossession. Many of the same causes were later
taken up with even more vigor by the poet Judith Wright. A member of a leading
pioneering pastoral family, she later repudiated her heritage and worked tirelessly
for Aboriginal causes as well as for conservation of Australias natural resources.
Patrick White, the only Australian to have been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, came from a similar background to Wright. While his novels are not as
overtly political, White was continually aware of his marginalization within Australian society as a homosexual and wrote with sympathy of similarly marginalized
groups, including workers, indigenous Australians, and new migrants. Another
leading novelist, Christina Stead, lived and wrote mainly overseas, where she was
closely associated with Marxist circles.
In the period between the two world wars, many other Australian writers
became involved in left-wing political groups of one kind or another, whether
working for world peace and against fascism, or more directly as members of the
Australian Communist Party (ACP). Novelist Katharine Susannah Prichard was
a founding member of the ACP and, unlike many others, did not leave the party
during the 1950s. Others writers heavily involved with the ACP include Frank
Hardy, Judah Waten, John Morrison, Jean Devanny, and Dorothy Hewett. A number of new theater groups were set up, producing Socialist plays and work by local
dramatists like Dymphna Cusack and Betty Roland. Groups of realist writers were
established, together with literary magazines such as Overland (1954 ). Another
Melbourne magazine, Meanjin, founded by C. B. Christesen in 1940, advocated the
broadly leftist sympathies associated with the group of radical nationalist critics,
novelists, and historians who were to publish seminal works in the 1950s: Vance
Palmer, A. A. Phillips, Manning Clark, and Russell Ward. A rival right-wing magazine, Quadrant, was established in 1956 by the poet and critic James McAuley.
The various liberation movements of the late 1960sassociated with protests
against the Vietnam War and with increased political action by Aboriginals, women,
and homosexualshad a strong impact on the Australian literary scene. A group
of young, university-educated, and mostly male writers, often called the generation of 68, established new outlets for fiction and poetry, and theater collectives
were set up to produce local plays. Leading figures were the poets John Tranter
and Robert Adamson, fiction writers Frank Moorhouse and Michael Wilding, and
playwrights Jack Hibberd and John Romeril. The 1960s also saw the beginning
of contemporary Aboriginal writing, with the publication of works by Oodgeroo,
Kevin Gilbert, and Jack Davis. Germaine Greers The Female Eunuch appeared in
1970, followed in 1975 by Kate Jenningss anthology of womens poetry, Mother Im
Rooted. During the 1970s and 1980s, a series of significant feminist novels were
published by writers such as Helen Garner, Kate Grenville, and Sara Dowse, while
dramatists Louis Nowra and Stephen Sewell examined the interplay between personal and political power.



A u s t r al i a n L i t e r at u r e

Since the 1990s, two main political issues have confronted Australians: the continuing struggle for justice by indigenous Australians (with an associated debate
about interpretations of Australias past) and border protection, related to the ongoing war against terrorism and the influx of illegal refugees. So far the former issue
has been attracting most attention from writers, mainly in the form of novels and
plays reassessing Australian history, though a leading novelist, Tom Keneally, has
published The Tyrants Novel (2003), about an Iraqi writer in detention in Australia,
and many nonfictional works have appeared, together with plays and poems.
Elizabeth Webby
Further Reading
Bennett, Bruce, and Jennifer Strauss, eds. The Oxford Literary History of Australia. Melbourne: Oxford UP, 1998.
Ferrier, Carole, ed. Gender, Politics and Fiction: Twentieth Century Australian Womens Novels.
St. Lucia: U of Queensland P, 1986.
Hodge, Bob, and Vijay Mishra. Dark Side of the Dream: Australian Literature and the Postcolonial Mind. Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1991.
McLaren, John. Writing in Hope and Fear: Literature as Politics in Postwar Australia. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996.
Webby, Elizabeth, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Australian Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2000.

Ba c i g al u p i , Pa o l o ( 1 9 7 2 )
The Colorado native Paolo Bacigalupi has been publishing short stories since
1999; he first received important attention in 2005, when his story from the previous year, The People of Sand and Slag, was nominated for a Hugo Award for
Best Novelette. Since that time, his work has earned a constant stream of awards
and nominations. His 2008 story collection Pump Six and Other Stories won a Locus
Award for Best Collection in 2009, while its title story won that same award for
Best Novelette. Bacigalupis first novel, The Windup Girl (2009), shared the Hugo
Award for Best Novel with China Mivilles The City & The City, while winning the
Nebula and John W. Campbell Awards for Best Novel, establishing Bacigalupi as
a rising star in the realm of science fiction. The Windup Girl, set in 23rd-century
Thailand, evokes that culture in impressive detail, while exploring a number of
postapocalyptic narratives related to global warming, genetic engineering, and the
collapse of the fossil fuel supply. Its indication of the complicity of global capitalism in the destruction of the natural environment is indicative of the strong political consciousness that marks all of Bacigalupis work.
Similar themes are crucial to the novels Ship Breaker (2010) and The Drowned
Cities (2012), both presented in a form accessible to young adult readers, with an
additional emphasis on the failure of the political system to deal with the environmental and other problems that were arising as a result of the operations of
global capitalism. Ship Breaker won the Michael L. Printz award from the American
Library Association for the years best young adult novel and was nominated for
a National Book Award for Young Peoples Literature. His follow-up young adult
novel, Zombie Baseball Beatdown (2013) is a rather playful excursion into the popular genre of zombie novels, but again with very serious political messages that
focus this time on the impact of unethical capitalist practices on the food supply in general, as well as on the cruel and inhumane treatment of animals in the
meat-production industry.
M. Keith Booker
Further Reading
Hageman, Andrew. The Challenge of Imagining Ecological Futures: Paolo Bacigalupis The
Windup Girl. Science Fiction Studies 39.2 (July 2012): 283303.


Baldwin, James

Mandelo, Brit. War, Killer Children, and More: An Interview with Paolo Bacigalupi. TOR.
com. http://www.tor.com/blogs/2012/05/an-interview-with-paolo-bacigalupi.
Tidwell, Christy. The Problem of Materiality in Paolo Bacigalupis The People of Sand and
Slag. Extrapolation 52.1 (Spring 2011): 94109.

Bal d w i n , Ja m e s ( 1 9 2 4 1 9 8 7 )
One of the most influential voices of the civil rights era, Baldwin devoted his 40-year
writing career to exposing American dishonesty about race. Baldwin was born in
Harlem and grew up there in a poor and religiously confining household that was a
world apart from the intellectual ferment of the Harlem Renaissance. He escaped
first to Greenwich Village, and then to Paris in 1948, following the example of
Richard Wright and other black artists. Although he never returned permanently
to the United States, Baldwin remained an outspoken critic of American society
until he died.
Among Baldwins six novels, the most critically acclaimed are the earliest: Go Tell
It on the Mountain (1953), Giovannis Room (1956), and Another Country (1962). Yet
it is as an essayist, especially as author of the pieces collected in Notes of a Native Son
(1955), that Baldwin proved most successful at bringing together a stinging indictment of injustice and remarkable prose. With the publication of The Fire Next Time
(1963), Baldwin was widely recognized as a prophetic voice of the civil rights movement and was credited with raising white consciousness about racism to an unprecedented degree. In the view of some critics, Baldwins later workincluding The Fire
Next Timesuffered as it became more overtly political. But to divide his career into
literary and political periods is to neglect both the ferocious critique of the essays
of the 1940s and 1950s and the artistic achievement of works like the book-length
essay No Name in the Street (1972) and his last novel, Just above My Head (1979).
During the 1960s, Baldwin traveled widely in the United States, participating in
marches and speaking for the Congress of Racial Equality, the Student Nonviolent
Coordinating Committee, and other organizations. Although he was not active
in the gay rights movement, Baldwin argued that homophobia was rooted in the
same fears that produced racism and was just as destructive. His honesty about his
own attachments to other men and his frank exploration of homosexuality in his
writing still inspire queer activists and scholars.
Baldwins fortunes as a public figure and as an artist waned in the last two
decades of his life. On the one hand, his relentless attention to the gap between
democratic ideals and American practices after the achievements of the 1960s
alienated Baldwin from white Americans who had earlier sought his opinion. On
the other hand, his insistence on the dangers of all forms of racial nationalism and
his open homosexuality made him an object of scorn by younger black militants.
What both groups refused to confront was the radicalism that defined Baldwins
career. Americans, in his view, would need to dare everything if they wanted to
achieve more than superficial social change, and his writings remain a revolutionary call to consciousness for Americans of all races.
Lawrie Balfour

B a r a k a , A m i r i

Further Reading
Balfour, Lawrie. The Evidence of Things Not Said: James Baldwin and the Promise of American
Democracy. Ithaca, NY: Cornell UP, 2001.
Campbell, James. Talking at the Gates: A Life of James Baldwin. New York: Penguin, 1991.
Leeming, David. James Baldwin. New York: Knopf, 1994.
Ross, Marlon B. White Fantasies of Desire: Baldwin and the Racial Identities of Sexuality.
James Baldwin Now. Ed. Dwight A. McBride. New York: New York UP, 1999. 1355.
Troupe, Quincy, ed. James Baldwin: The Legacy. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1989.

Ba r a k a , A m i r i ( 1 9 3 4 2 0 1 4 )
Born in Newark, New Jersey, to a lower-middle-class family and baptized Everett
Leroy Jones, Amiri Baraka first published under the name LeRoi Jones but changed
his name in 1968, following his conversion to Islam. An accomplished poet, playwright, essayist, and critic, Baraka is perhaps best known as one of the principal
architects of the Black Arts movement. In 1964, he won an Obie award for his
play Dutchman, and in 2001, he was named the poet laureate of New Jersey. In
addition to his literary achievements, Baraka taught at Yale, Columbia, and the
State University of New York at Stony Brook, and consistently worked to effect
political change at the grassroots level.
Barakas early career was marked by abrupt shifts in his attitudes and beliefs. He
attended Howard University but left without completing a degree. He then served
a three-year stint in the U.S. Air Force but was dishonorably discharged for being
found in possession of allegedly Communist writings. After his discharge in 1957,
Baraka settled in Greenwich Village, New York, and established relationships with
members of the Beat movement, writing extensively and cofounding the influential beat literary journal Yugen. Interestingly, very little of the work Baraka produced during this period reflected his later interest in Black Arts.
Barakas views on African American writing changed radically following a trip to
Cuba in 1960. His writing was greatly influenced by the artists of that postrevolutionary country, as well as by the civil rights and black nationalist movements in
the United States. At the same time, Baraka immersed himself in the work of jazz
musicians who demonstrated ways that black artists could produce avant-garde
art rooted in African American cultural traditions. While Baraka became increasingly involved with militant political organizations during the 1960s, it was the
assassination of Malcolm X in 1965 that led to his final break with the predominantly white bohemian world. Shortly thereafter, Baraka moved to Harlem, where
he founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School (BART/S). Instrumental in the
rise of the Black Arts movement, the BART/S was designed to promote a well-defined black aesthetic, and to provide a blueprint for similar theaters across the
country. During that period, Baraka espoused an Afrocentric doctrine of separatism, self-determination, and communal African American cultural and economic
self-development. However, in the early 1970s, he began to identify weaknesses
in black nationalism, adopting a Marxist ideology, which he felt better addressed
the interrelated problems of racism, national oppression, colonialism, and neocolonialism. During his retirement, Baraka remained a controversial writer and



B e at M o v e m e n t

political activist; he came under attack for making allegedly anti-Semitic comments in his post9/11 poem, Somebody Blew Up America.
Jeff Solomon
Further Reading
Baraka, Amiri. The Autobiography of LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka. New York: Freundlich Books,
Baraka, Amiri. The LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka Reader. Ed. William J. Harris. New York: Thunders Mouth P, 1991.
Sollors, Werner. Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones: The Quest for a Populist Modernism. New York:
Columbia UP, 1978.

B e at M o v e m e n t ( 1 9 4 4 1 9 6 0 )
In This is the Beat Generation, John Clellon Holmes describes a generation of
young people emerging from the Depression and World War II into a duck-and-cover
Cold War world, and becoming thoroughly routinized and ordered according
to corporate interests. Holmes finds this generation all too willing to either lose
themselves in giant corporations or drop out of organized society altogether. They
were beat, which Holmes defines as more than mere weariness...the feeling
of having been used, of being raw...a feeling of being reduced to the bedrock of
consciousness (SM10). Many of the writers and artists of this generation found
established cultureits aesthetics, politics, spirituality, and general consciousnessprofoundly stifling and sought escape from the modern world, from prefabricated futures and state-sanctioned cultural production.
Yet while many may have felt beat, the beat generation, as a label, is usually reserved for Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs ( Junky [1953], Naked Lunch
[1959]), Jack Kerouac, Gregory Corso (Gasoline [1958], The Happy Birthday of Death
[1960]), and their 1940s and early 1950s network of inspirational friends and traveling companions. Ginsbergs October 1955 reading of the poem Howl at San Franciscos Six Gallery and the obscenity trial following the poems publication connected
the writers and artists with beat young people worldwide, and for a few, brief years,
the Beats and the writers and artists of the San Francisco Renaissance (e.g., Kenneth
Rexroth, Michael McClure, and Robert Duncan) were national news.
The beats advocated spontaneity, and an honest and open connection, in both
form and content, between everyday experience and art (often becoming confessional), which clashed with 1950s paranoia, especially when the everyday experience involved homosexuality. Libertarian might best describe their politics.
Although most beat generationassociated writers had read their Marx and recognized the Moloch in laissez-faire capitalism, Stalin gave reason to doubt Socialism as the path to a new consciousness. Kerouac and others espoused rugged
individualism and reclusiveness, while others (Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, Ginsberg) embraced or experimented with various forms of Buddhism. For many, drug
use was a necessary part of the creative process and the search for an enlightened

Bl a c k A r t s M o v e m e n t

consciousness. While the beat generation was predominantly a white male phenomenon, connections to the female experience (Denise Levertov, Ruth Weiss) and
black experience (LeRoi Jones, Bob Kaufman) existed.
Ginsbergs homoerotic poetry, Burroughss chronicles of drug experimentation,
and Kerouacs tales of surviving outside wage slavery sent a shock wave through
the middle class and helped to establish the West Coast as a liberal, antiestablishment sanctuary, but by the end of 1957, what started as mutual recognition of a
shared condition and a sharing of ideas had become a competition of ideas, and
the movement began to dissolve. By the late 1950s, conservatives had written the
movement off as a refuge for slothful and ungrateful Americans or a phase for
rebellious youth. Yet the beats were instrumental in the sea change of U.S. cultures
self-regard, from 1950s optimism to 1960s skepticism, though the mechanism is
indirect and complex, and owes much to the civil rights movement. Despite its
clash with conservatism, the beat lifestyle was perhaps the first national youth
movement to be co-opted by the interests of businessa move that set the stage
for the culture industrys dominance in subsequent U.S. cultural production. Perhaps most importantly, the liberal shock of the beat generation was foundational
to 1960s counterculture and the antiwar movement.
David Leaton
Further Reading
Foster, Edward Halsey. Understanding the Beats. Columbia: U of South Carolina P, 1992.
George, Paul S. Beat Politics: New Left and Hippie Beginnings in the Postwar Counterculture. Cultural Politics: Radical Movements in Modern History. Ed. Jerold M. Starr. New
York: Praeger, 1985.
Holmes, John Clellon. This Is the Beat Generation. New York Times Magazine, 16
November 1952: SM 1013.
ONeil, Paul. The Only Rebellion Around. Life 47 (November 1959): 11530.
Podhoretz, Norman. The Know-Nothing Bohemians. Partisan Review 25 (Spring 1958):
Watson, Steven. The Birth of the Beat Generation. New York: Pantheon, 1995.

Bla c k A r t s M o v e m e n t
In The Black Arts Movement, the movements manifesto, Larry Neal labeled the
Black Arts movement (19601975) the aesthetic and spiritual sister of the Black
Power concept (Gayle 257). The primary focus of the movement became converting
the political action of urban unrest and the rhetoric of Black Power into a workable
cultural aesthetic. The Black Arts movement struggled to make sense of the changing
political landscape of a postsegregation United States while integrating the perspective of the brother on the block into a workable cultural aesthetic, which was called
the black aesthetic. In 1968, the same year that Neal published his manifesto, the
Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), two of the leading organizations of the civil-rights era, ceased to be



B o n d , E d wa r d

multiracial and prointegrationist. In its quest to define itself as a black organization,

CORE, under the leadership of Roy Innis, expelled its white organizers and supporters. As CORE, SNCC, and other political organizations struggled to redefine their
mission in a postcivil rights era, the ideological and intellectual battle to create Black
Studies raged on university and college campuses, even turning occasionally violent.
The Black Arts movements critics and practitioners responded to the question
of black art and the postsegregation problematic of African American artists and
intellectuals by calling for an art that would, as Neal writes, speak directly to the
needs and aspirations of Black America. . . . The Black Arts Movement is radically opposed to any concept of the artist that separates him from his community
(Gayle 257). This notion of community was constituted around oppositional struggle and became the basis for the form and function that was designated the black
aesthetic. As Ron Karenga writes in The Black Aesthetic, a key text of the movement,
[A]ll African art has at least three characteristics: that is, it is functional, collective
and committing or committed, and Black art, like everything else, must respond
positively to the reality of revolution (32, 31). The call for the creation of a Black
Arts movement was answered not only by individuals but through the formation
of artistic collectives and publishing houses, including Third World Press and
the Organization of Black American Culture in Chicago, Spirit House in Newark,
Broadside Press and Boone House in Detroit, and the Black Arts Repertory Theater
in New York City. Many of these cultural venues were created by the key artists/
intellectuals of the movement, including Dudley Randall, Margaret Danner, Don
L. Lee, LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka, Hoyt Fuller, Gwendolyn Brooks, Larry Neal,
Carolyn Rodgers, and Mari Evans. Together with Baraka, Neal anthologized much
of the work of the movement in Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing.
Amy Abugo Ongiri
Further Reading
Baker, Houston A., Jr. Afro-American Poetics: Revisions of Harlem and the Black Aesthetic.
Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1988.
Brooks, Gwendolyn, ed. A Broadside Treasury. Detroit: Broadside P, 1971.
Gayle, Addison, Jr., ed. The Black Aesthetic. New York: Doubleday, 1971.
Neal, Larry. Visions of a Liberated Future: Black Arts Movement Writings. Ed. Michael Schwartz.
New York: Thunders Mouth P, 1989.
Neal, Larry, and LeRoi Jones. Black Fire: An Anthology of Afro-American Writing. New York:
William Morrow, 1968.
Randall, Dudley. Black Poetry: A Supplement to Anthologies Which Exclude Black Poets. Broadside Press, 1969.

B o n d , E d wa r d ( 1 9 3 5 )
Among the most prolific and politically engaged playwrights in the world, Bond
has produced works whose immediate topical significance has not tempered their
longevity in Britain. Bond first came to widespread public notice when his play

B o n d , E d wa r d

Saved, produced by the English Stage Company, opened at the Royal Court Theatre in 1965. Made up of short scenes representing episodes in the lives of the
English urban underclass, the play raised critics and spectators hackles by depicting the savage and senseless stoning of an infant. The outrage over that scene in
the British press echoed the early critical disgust at the plays of Henrik Ibsen and
remained the example of theatrical controversy par excellence until Sarah Kanes
Blasted debuted 30 years later. Bonds Early Morning (1968)a fanciful depiction
of the English Empires afterlife, in which Queen Victoria, Prince Albert, and Florence Nightingale, among other prominent figures of the colonial period, engage
in cannibalism, sexual promiscuity, and genocidewould eventually lead to the
decommissioning of Lord Chamberlains censorship of the stage. Bond, however,
does not confine his staged politics to social comment on historical or contemporary realities. His War Plays (1985)Red Black and Ignorant, The Tin Can People,
and Great Peacerepresent the potentially dire future consequences of nuclear
proliferation and the increasing concentration of wealth, while Lear (1971)his
rewriting of Shakespeares tragedyinvestigates the corruptibility of political
power. Though Bond is widely understood as working in the combined lineage
of Bertolt Brecht and Antonin Artaud, some of his later works, including Coffee
(1997) and At the Island Sea (1995), have narrowed the epic scope and the stark
depictions of violence that mark his earlier plays. Instead, these works, though
fundamentally political in their concerns, question the possibility of theatrically
representing the horrors of history, and emphasize their own self-conscious awareness of the way theater specifically and artistic work more generally must always
mediate, distort, dismember, and reconstruct its own particular version of truth,
morality, ethics, and politics. Much of Bonds recent work has been devoted to a
cycle of dystopian plays detailing a future (2077) society in abusive bio-power
maims the lives of individuals.
Almost certainly, his relative obscurity in the United States testifies to the
unwavering political commitment of his work. Produced with intentional and
studied crudity, explicitly examining world politics from a British perspective, and
retaining the alienating texture of epic theater, these plays make no concession to
big-budget, highly produced, aggressively marketed mass-cultural aesthetics.
Craig N. Owens
Further Reading
Eagleton, Terry. Nature and Violence: The Prefaces of Edward Bond. Critical Quarterly
26.12 (1984): 12735.
Hay, Malcolm, and Philip Roberts. Bond: A Study of His Plays. London, 1980.
Innes, Christopher. The Political Spectrum of Edward Bond: From Rationalism to Rhapsody. Modern Drama 25.2 (1982): 189206.
Spencer, Jenny S. Dramatic Strategies in the Plays of Edward Bond. Cambridge: Cambridge
UP, 1992.
Worth, Katharine J. Edward Bond. Essays on Contemporary British Drama. Ed. Hedwig
Bock and Albert Wertheim. Munich: Hueber, 1981. 20522.



B r a z i l i a n L i t e r at u r e

B r a z i l i a n L i t e r at u r e
The Brazilian postcolonial period started in 1822, after which an entire generation
of romantic writers were responsible for creating a national literature. Meanwhile,
with the coming of the 20th century, there was an increasing complexity in the
Brazilian literary scene. In the 1920s, a whole generation of modernist authors was
starting to make itself know to a wider audience. Mrio de Andrade (18931945),
Oswald de Andrade (18901954), and Manuel Bandeira (18861968) were the
most famous of them. From then on, there were at least three important trends.
The first one was the production of texts that intended to depict the country such
as it is, criticizing its social structures. The most popular writer from this group
was Jorge Amado (19122001), but the best was Graciliano Ramos (18921953).
The second trend was the production of texts that focused on the aesthetic trends
their authors believed in, which resulted in reflexive works strongly concentrated
on their own making. The fictionist Osman Lins (19241978) and the poet Haroldo de Campos (19292003) are the most famous writers from this group. The
third trend was the production of texts about persons or characters who, looking
for answers to fundamental existential questions of human life, pose questions
about their own existence: their sexuality, their family, their life in big cities or in
rural communities, and so on. Writers from this group include Clarice Lispector
(19201977), Adlia Prado (1935 ), Cyro dos Anjos (19061994), and Carlos
Drummond de Andrade (19021987).
Of course, this classification oversimplifies the works of these writers, which
were certainly more complex than this scheme suggests. And there were at least
two other internationally acclaimed contemporary writers whose works were a
combination of the three trends: Joo Cabral de Melo Neto (19201999) and Joo
Guimares Rosa (19081967).
Jos Lus Jobim
Further Reading
Bosi, Alfredo. Histria concisa da literatura brasileira. So Paulo: Cultrix, 2002.
Candido, Antonio. Formao da literatura brasileira. 2 vols. So Paulo: Martins, 1959.
Coutinho, Afranio. A literatura no Brasil. 2nd ed. 6 vols. Rio de Janeiro: Editorial Sul Americana, 19681971.
Rocha, Joo Cezar de Castro, ed. Brazil 2001A Revisionary History of Brazilian Literature and Culture. Special number of Portuguese Literary and Cultural Studies 45
(Spring/Fall 2000).

B r e c h t, B e r t o lt ( 1 8 9 8 1 9 5 6 )
Although his preference would have been for a proletarian birthright, Eugen
Berthold Brecht was born in the industrial city of Augsburg, where his father was
employed in a paper mill of which, in 1914, he became managing director. Brechts
childhood and early youth, then, belonged to the last years of the German Empire,
and like many of his generation, he owed his political awakening to the carnage

B r e c h t, B e r t o l t

of World War I. A cardiac irregularity delayed his military service (as a medical
orderly) until October 1918, when the war was almost over, and he was demobilized in January 1919. By then, Brecht was forging a literary career for himself (as
Bertolt, or plain Bert, Brecht) in Munich, the capital city of Bavaria, and beginning
to distance himself from Augsburg. Bavaria, until the abdication of Ludwig III in
the aftermath of World War I, was a sovereign state within the German Empire,
and Munich was the central site of a dizzying sequence of postwar political events.
In the wake of Ludwig IIIs abdication, a new government under the Socialist intellectual Kurt Eisner was established, but Eisner was assassinated in February 1919
to be succeeded by a hastily organized Socialist soviet, itself soon to be swept aside
by a better programmed Communist faction. The prospect of a Communist Bavaria
rang alarm bells for the government of the newly established republic of Germany,
and the army marched on Munich. By the end of May 1919, the Bavarian political
adventure was effectively over. Brechts response to these events, of which he was
necessarily a witness, is surprisingly difficult to determine. There is some evidence
of his early sympathy with Eisners Socialist program, but the mood of his early
plays (first produced in 1922 and 1923)Baal, Drums in the Night, and In the
Jungleis angrily anarchic.
The deep divisions within the Weimar Republic were exacerbated by the hyperinflation of the 1920s. Brechts first visit to Berlin ended on March 13, 1920, the
very day on which the Prussian landowner Wolfgang Kapp captured the city in an
attempt to overthrow the government and restore the monarchy. Brecht was working in Leipzig in November 1923 when Hitler joined other right-wing leaders in a
similar, though even more theatrical, assault on Munich. Between the Kapp Putsch
and Hitlers Beer-Hall Putsch, there was a Communist-inspired revolution in central Germany. Sooner or later, the anarchic Brecht would have to abandon his political fence sitting. The catalyst was his move to Berlin, as assistant dramaturge in
the Deutsches Theater in September 1924. Under the influence there of informed
Marxiststhe actress Helene Weigel (whom he married in 1928) and his literary
collaborator Elisabeth Hauptmann among themhe undertook a systematic study
of Marx at the Marxist Workers School. The significant shift in his dramatic priorities was first evident, however elusively, in Man Is Man (1926), and subsequently
in such collaborative (with Kurt Weill and others) deconstructions of capitalism as
The Threepenny Opera (1928), The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny (1930), and
Saint Joan of the Stockyards (1932). He had in mind a dramatic method that would
introduce to the theater some of the qualities of epic poetry, above all its emphasis
on events rather than character, and was initially content to align himself with the
innovative director Erwin Piscator as an exponent of epic theater. But it was in
the formal innovation of the group of plays he called Lehrstck (learning plays)
that he most openly sought for a specifically Communist dramaturgy. It was one of
this group, The Measures Taken (1930), that provided a focus for hostile questions
from the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1947.
After the quelling of the Beer-Hall Putsch, Brecht was among those who found
the posturing Hitler funny, but the joke turned sour in the 1930s. Brechts last
attempt at political intervention in Berlin was the severely censored and quickly



B r e c h t, B e r t o l t

banned film, Kuhle Wampe. Knowing he figured on Hitlers hit list, Brecht fled the
city the day after the Reichstag fire in February 1933, thus beginning 15 years of
exile. Domiciled successively in Denmark, Sweden, and Finland, and thus denied
access to a German-speaking theater, Brecht developed his politically interrogative
style in poems, plays, letters, journals, dramaturgical treatises, and everyday discourse. In occasional essays and in the deceptively random jottings to which he
was restlessly committed, he constantly refined his own dramatic theory, always
with the intention of investing audiences with a responsibility for interactive political thinking. From ideas promulgated by the Soviet critic Viktor Shklovsky, Brecht
elaborated his influential notion of the Verfremdungseffekt (often misleadingly translated as alienation effect), the conscious aim of which was to expose to audiences
the strangeness of political and social conditions that they took for granted. Temperamentally disinclined to the adoption of a party line, and always confident that
dissidence was a valuable element in the dialectical progress toward a Marxist revolution, he worked, with various companions in exile, on manuscripts that would
later be recognized as masterpieces of the left-wing theaterThe Good Person of
Szechwan and Mother Courage among them. These manuscripts were with him when
the advance of Hitlers army into Scandinavia drove him to the United States in the
summer of 1941. They included early drafts of sections of his Short Organum for the
Theater, completed in 1948, which offers the clearest account of what is best called
dialectical theaterBrechts innovative amalgam of modernism and Marxism.
Brechts American years, most of them spent among fellow exiles in California,
were uneasy. His own abrasiveness did nothing to ease his passage into Hollywood,
which he came to characterize as a branch of the narcotics trade, and he struggled, mostly unsuccessfully, to bring his dramatic projects to fruition. But it was in
California that he completed the first draft of The Caucasian Chalk Circle, began his
eventually abandoned versification of The Communist Manifesto, and worked with
Charles Laughton toward the world premiere of Life of Galileo in Los Angeles on
July 31, 1947. The play was still running when Brecht was interrogated by HUAC.
An arch-interrogator himself, he subtly eluded the committee with a mixture of
equivocation and truth (he had, after all, never joined the Communist Party), then
promised to remain in the country and flew to Paris the next day.
The fledgling government of the new East Germany, in search of cultural authentication, offered Brecht a theatrical home in Berlin (he had been refused a visa for
the American zone), and with disguised reluctance, he accepted the offer. The last
years of his life (19491956) are inseparably linked with the creation and operation of the Berliner Ensemble. Given the disparity between an inflexible government and a playwright who thrived on dialectic, these last years were inevitably
ones of political compromise, which came to a head with the workers uprising of
June 1953. Looked to for a gesture on behalf of the workers, Brecht remained silent
(his published work proclaims his antagonism to heroes and martyrs). Only later
did he write a sardonic epigram proposing to the East German government that
they dissolve the people and elect a new one.
Peter Thomson

B r i t i s h I m m i g r a n t L i t e r at u r e

Further Reading
Benjamin, Walter. Understanding Brecht. Trans. Anna Bostock. London: NLB, 1973.
Brooker, Peter. Bertolt Brecht: Dialectics, Poetry, Politics. London: Croom Helm, 1988.
Dickson, Keith A. Towards Utopia: A Study of Brecht. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1978.
Jameson, Fredric. Brecht and Method. London: Verso, 1998.
Lyon, James K. Bertolt Brecht in America. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1980.
Thomson, Peter, and Glendyr Sacks, eds. The Cambridge Companion to Brecht. Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 1994.

B r i t i s h I m m i g r a n t L i t e r at u r e
Unsurprisingly, given its historical status as a world power and cultural center,
Britain has a long and rich tradition of immigrant literature. For example, several
of the great modernists, notably Henry James, Joseph Conrad, and T. S. Eliot,
were born overseas. Britains imperial history also generated a long line of immigrant writers from the colonies beginning in the late 18th century, when figures
like Sake Dean Mohammed and Olaudah Equiano inaugurated a black British literary tradition.
With the progressive decolonization of the British empire from 1947 on, this
tradition has developed exponentially. Many new writers arrived in the wave
of migration to Britain in the 1950s, including Attia Hosain, Nirad Chaudhuri,
George Lamming, and V. S. Naipaul, and their numbers swelled in subsequent
decades. The predominant focus of such figures was initially on describing their
countries and cultures of origin (for both a metropolitan and home audience), as
in Chaudhuris Autobiography of an Unknown Indian (1951), Lammings In the Castle
of My Skin (1953), and Hosains Sunlight on a Broken Column (1961). However, texts
addressing the realities of diasporic life in the metropolis soon emerged. Notable
early instances include Sam Selvons The Lonely Londoners (1954), Naipauls The
Mimic Men (1967), Buchi Emechetas In the Ditch (1972), and Kamala Markandayas
The Nowhere Man (1973).
From around 1980, there has been something of a boom in immigrant literature.
The breakthrough was provided by Salman Rushdies Midnights Children (1981),
which won the most prestigious national book award, the Booker Prize. In its wake
came an avalanche of new writing from every conceivable immigrant group in Britain. Some of the most interesting is by British-born members of such communities,
including a good proportion of women writersfor example, Meera Syal, Zadie
Smith, and Monica Aliand writers of mixed race, such as Ben Okri and Caryl
Phillips. Such writers are strategically preoccupied with reconceptualizing traditional notions of British identity with a view to making them more responsive to,
and inclusive of, diasporic histories and experience. Their more hybrid conception
of national belonging is often accompanied by narrative modes that partly draw on
the resources of their sometimes already distant cultures of family origin.
While British immigrant writing is in a state of rude health, many such writers have increasingly disavowed what Kobena Mercer describes as the burden of
representation, the duty to act as representative or spokesperson of their putative



B r i t i s h L i t e r at u r e

cultures of origin or the diasporic communities from which they have emerged.
For example, Hanif Kureishis more recent writing does not engage with ethnic
issues to the extent of the earlier work that made his name. This demonstrates that
British immigrant literature has varied modalities, thematic concerns, and cultural
politics, and that it resists easy homogenization. It may even write itself out of existence as a category, as the communities from which it has emerged become more
fully admitted to, and established within, British society.
Bart Moore-Gilbert
Further Reading
Buford, Bill. Introduction. Granta 3 (1980): 716.
Innes, C. L. A History of Black and Asian Writing in Britain 17002000. Cambridge, UK:
Cambridge UP, 2002.
Mercer, Kobena. Black Art and the Burden of Representation. Third Text 10 (Spring 1990):
Nasta, Susheila. Home Truths: Fictions of the South Asian Diaspora in Britain. Basingstoke, UK:
Palgrave, 2002.
Phillips, Michael, and Trevor Phillips, eds. Windrush: The Irresistible Rise of Multi-racial Britain. London: HarperCollins, 1998.
Proctor, James. Dwelling Places: Postwar Black British Writing. Manchester, UK: Manchester
UP, 2003.
Proctor, James, ed. Writing Black Britain, 19481998: An Interdisciplinary Anthology. Manchester, UK: Manchester UP, 2000.
Rushdie, Salman. Imaginary Homelands: Essays and Criticism 19811991. London: Granta, 1991.

B r i t i s h L i t e r at u r e
Aesthetic judgments that promote restrictive definitions of the literary have often
resulted in equally narrow definitions of the political, leading to the (generally
dismissive) characterization of only certain decades of modern British literature
notably the 1930sor certain kinds of literaturesuch as British working-class
and Socialist literatureas politically informed. But in actual fact, the literature of
the entire period after 1900 engages with or reflects every significant contemporary issue, from turn-of-the-century explorations of the place of the new woman to
investigations of the tensions of a multicultural Britain.
While reactions against straw-man versions of Victorian verities were later to
mark much of the literature of modernism, the 1890s had already seen the burgeoning of works that interrogated notions of sexual morality, most notably in
relation to the figure of the new woman. As Ann Ardis has pointed out, Edwardian novelists such as Arnold Bennett continued to mobilize this trope, even as
the womens suffrage movement gathered steam, producing powerful propaganda
works like Elizabeth Robinss The Convert (1907). Writers such as Havelock Ellis
and Edward Carpenter continued to popularize the discourse of sexual reform,
directly influencing such works as James Joyces play Exiles (1918). Meanwhile,

B r i t i s h L i t e r at u r e

Olive Schreiners Women and Labour (1911) linked feminist and anti-imperial concerns; concern with the ethics of empire, too, marked not only Joseph Conrads
Heart of Darkness (1899) but also his more densely realist Nostromo (1904).
H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shawboth at one time members of the
loosely aggregated, paradoxically elitist Fabian society, with Shaw its best-known
member and Wells its most disruptivebecame the paradigmatic chroniclers of
Edwardian controversies. Wells, himself parodied as the scientific new man in
Shaws Man and Superman (1903), took on in Tono-Bungay (1909) commodity capitalism, new money, and the suffocating gentility of the upwardly mobile classes.
Shaws didactic plays, such as Major Barbara (1905) and Pygmalion (1914), disrupted received ideas about class, gender, and virtue; his Heartbreak House (1910),
like E. M. Forsters Howards End (1910), seemed uncannily to anticipate the coming conflict of World War I even as it reflected the contemporary crisis of liberalism expressed in such works as C. F. Mastermans The Condition of England (1909).
Among the prewar avant-garde, the vorticist violence of Wyndham Lewiss Blast
echoed the sense that society was alreadyperhaps happilyin mid-explosion.
While World War I, then, exacerbated rather than caused the societal fractures
for which it is blamed in much of the literature about the conflict, it nevertheless
served as a nexus for the reevaluation of national self-image. Writers as diverse
as Siegfried Sassoon, Rebecca West, Vera Brittain, and (once again) Wells all
focused on the wars production of a disjunction between reality and self-justificatory rhetoricthe lies a nation tells itself. In the mood of postwar disillusion, the
modern city celebrated in Virginia Woolfs Mrs. Dalloway (1926), for example, was
just as often seen as the exemplar of modern decay and the inevitability of British contraction (Esty 36). Once imperial center, now T. S. Eliots Waste Land,
London was characterized as the site of unproductive commerce and unproductive
sexthe kind of directionless, joyless circuits that mark novels such as Aldous
Huxleys Antic Hay (1923) and the early works of Evelyn Waugh.
The General Strike of 1926 and the interwar slump as a whole served as catalysts, in many cases, for the political radicalization of younger bourgeois writers
like C. Day Lewis and Edward Upward, with explicit political commitment often
tied, as the 1930s wore on, to a rejection of modernist experiment and the valorization of Socialist realism (as outlined at the 1934 Soviet Writers Congress).
The embrace of plain language and of action over introspection was in Upwards
work carried to a paradoxical extreme, with his own earlier surrealist-tinged writing now configured thematically as the neurotic outcome of political denial. In an
influential essay, Storm Jameson called for documentarianismas in the writing
of George Orwell and the sociological work of the group Mass Observationas
the most responsible mode of Socialist expression; activists also sought out and
promoted proletarian literature, like Walter Greenwoods Love on the Dole (1933)
and Lewis Joness Cwmardy (1937), which followed in the footsteps of Robert
Tressells great proletarian classic, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1914; full
version 1955).
Political concerns found their expression, too, in generic experimentationnot
only in what W. H. Auden termed parable-art but also in the growing use of



B r i t i s h L i t e r at u r e

popular genres, including detective fiction. Even as writers publicly took sides on
the Spanish Civil War (with severalincluding Christopher Caudwell and Ralph
Fox, who both died thereenlisting in the International Brigades), novelists such
Naomi Mitchison, Sylvia Townsend Warner, Stevie Smith, and Katherine Burdekin
dramatized their concerns about the rise of Fascism in dystopian literature and
historical novels.
In the years after World War II, a sense of postimperial diminishment and
a kind of national squalidness led to the iconoclastic cynicism of the so-called
angry young mena term that described novelists John Wain, Kingsley Amis,
John Braine, and Alan Sillitoe, and, with perhaps more accuracy, playwrights John
Osborne (Look Back in Anger) and Arnold Wesker (Chicken Soup with Rice). Social
commentary took experimental form in the works of Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, and Joe Orton, who made use of discontinuities and grotesquerie of plot and
various forms of linguistic play to revealing the realities beneath convention. The
continuing political engagement of the British theateras in the work of Edward
Bond, John Arden, David Hare, and Caryl Churchillmade it an important area
for the emergence of black British writers. So too was poetry, with such writers as
Louise Bennett, Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Linton Kwesi Johnson, andmore
recentlyBenjamin Zephaniah making use of oral traditions that foreground
poetry as a site of social critique.
The postimperial influx of immigrants into Britain, with its attendant cultural tensions and transformations, was chronicled both in British immigrant
literature, such as Sam Selvons The Lonely Londoners (1956), and by sympathetic
observers, such as Colin MacInnes in his City of Spades (1957) and Absolute Beginners (1959). Recent years have seen a burgeoning in the number and importance
of workssuch as those of Hanif Kureishi and Zadie Smiththat foreground Britains multiculturalism as the occasion for exploring evolving ideas of Englishness.
Provocative works such as Salman Rushdies The Satanic Verses (1988), Bernardine
Evaristos The Emperors Babe (2001), and Hari Kunzrus The Impressionist (2002),
make use of the techniques and theories of postmodernism to challenge traditional models of citizenship.
Debra Rae Cohen
Further Reading
Ardis, Ann. New Women, New Novels: Feminism and Early Modernism. New Brunswick, NJ:
Rutgers UP, 1990.
Benson, Frederick R. Writers in Arms: The Literary Impact of the Spanish Civil War. New York:
NYU P, 1967.
Booker, M. Keith. The Modern British Novel of the Left: A Research Guide. Westport, CT:
Greenwood, 1998.
Bradbury, Malcolm. The Social Content of Modern English Literature. New York: Schocken,
Buitenhuis, Peter. The Great War of Words: Literature as Propaganda 191418 and After. London: Batsford, 1989.

B u l g a k o v, M i k h a i l

Croft, Andy. Red Letter Days: British Fiction in the 1930s. London: Lawrence and Wishart,
Esty, Jed. A Shrinking Island: Modernism and National Culture in England. Princeton, NJ:
Princeton UP, 2004.
Hewison, Robert. In Anger: British Writing in the Cold War 194560. New York: Oxford UP,
Hewison, Robert. Too Much: Art and Society in the Sixties 196075. New York: Oxford UP,
Hewison, Robert. Under Siege: Literary Life in London 193945. New York: Oxford UP, 1977.
Horsley, Lee. Fictions of Power in English Literature: 19001950. London: Longman, 1995.
Hynes, Samuel. The Edwardian Turn of Mind. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1968.
Hynes, Samuel. A War Imagined: The First World War and English Culture. New York: Collier,
Lassner, Phyllis. British Women Writers of World War II: Battlegrounds of Their Own. New
York: St. Martins, 1998.
Light, Alison. Forever England: Femininity, Literature and Conservatism Between the Wars.
London: Routledge, 1991.
Montefiore, Janet. Men and Women Writers of the 1930s: The Dangerous Flood of History. London and New York: Routledge, 1996.
Nasta, Susheila. Home Truths: Fictions of the South Asian Diaspora in Britain. Basingstoke, UK:
Palgrave, 2002.
Procter, James. Dwelling Places: Postwar Black British Writing. Manchester, UK: Manchester
UP, 2003.
Sinfield, Alan. Literature, Politics and Culture in Postwar Britain. Berkeley: U of California P,
Watson, George. Politics and Literature in Modern Britain. Totowa, NJ: Rowman and Littlefield, 1977.

B u l g a k o v, M i k h a i l ( 1 8 9 1 1 9 4 0 )
Born in Kiev, the capital of todays Ukraine, Bulgakov found himself squarely in
the middle of political debates in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s. As a
prominent literary figure during the repressive years of Stalinism, Bulgakov fostered an ironic yet highly moral voice that only posthumously received its full due.
The son of a professor of theology, Bulgakov studied medicine in the years preceding the 1917 Russian Revolution, practicing briefly as a doctor in the Ukrainian
countryside. With the onset of the Russian Civil War, Bulgakov enlisted in the
anti-Bolshevik Volunteer Army, acquiring a firsthand look at the protracted conflict
between the Reds and the Whites. This war experience served as the basis for Bulgakovs novel The White Guard (Belaia gvardiia, 1924), which portrays the plight of
Russian intellectuals caught up in the civil strife.
In 1921, Bulgakov moved to Moscow, where he began writing humorous newspapers sketchesshort works that presented a sarcastic, somewhat guarded perspective on the rapid rise of the new Soviet society and the Bolsheviks brief new
economic policy. Bulgakovs sketches led to a series of feuilletons and other lengthier
works, such as the novella Heart of a Dog (Sobache serdtse, 1925)a satire of both
modern (social) science and the utopian Soviet dream to transform the working class.



Bulosan, Carlos

Given its ideological tone, Heart of a Dog was deemed unsuitable for publication in
Soviet Russia, a taste of censorship to come under Joseph Stalin. In the increasingly
regulated environment of the 1920s, Bulgakov resorted to writing plays, such as the
historical Day of the Turbins (Dni Turbinykh, 1926) and his 1932 dramatization of
Nikolai Gogols famous 19th-century novel Dead Souls (Mertvye dushi).
By 1929, with Stalin firmly in power and Socialist realism emerging as the
countrys predominant literary mode, Bulgakovs plays were banned, a decree that
prompted the authors unsuccessful appeal to the government for permission to
emigrate. At this time, Bulgakov began writing what was to become his most celebrated work, The Master and Margarita (Master i Margarita, 19281940), a novel
that merges satire of life in corrupt Soviet Moscow, grotesque surrealism, and a
fictionalized version of the biblical story of Jesus and Pontius Pilate to highlight the
ongoing battle between forces of good and evil, a veiled condemnation of Stalinist
repression. Due to the novels religiosity and conspicuous political undercurrent, it
was not until the 1960s that The Master and Margarita was finally published, albeit
posthumously and in censored form. Since the appearance of this controversial yet
renowned novel, Bulgakovs reputation has increased tenfold, with his fantastical
prose continuing the subversive tradition of Gogolian satire in the Stalinist period.
Timothy Harte
Further Reading
Curtis, J. A. E. Bulgakovs Last Decade: The Writer as Hero. New York: Cambridge UP, 1987.
Milne, Lesley. The Master and Margarita: A Comedy of Victory. Birmingham, UK: Birmingham Slavonic Monographs, 1977.
Proffer, Ellendea. Bulgakov: Life and Work. Ann Arbor, MI: Ardis, 1984.
Wright, A. Colin. Mikhail Bulgakov: Life and Interpretations. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1978.

B u l o s a n , Ca r l o s ( 1 9 1 1 1 9 5 6 )
Almost a decade after brutal U.S. colonization of the Southeast Asian archipelago (Spanish American War, 1898; Filipino American War, 18991902), Carlos
Bulosan was born of the peasantry in Mangusmana, Binalonan, of the Pangasinan
Province. Uprooted from the semifeudal Philippine countryside, Bulosan joined
thousands of Filipino migrant workers on U.S. plantations (100,000 in Hawaii
and 30,000 in California) and in fish canneries along the West Coast during the
Depression. Arriving in 1930 without finishing high school, Bulosan forged an
alternative education as an organic intellectual, through his involvement in the
labor movement.
Bulosan participated in the United Cannery, Agricultural, Packing and Allied
Workers of America, and developed a lasting friendship with Filipino labor organizer Chris Mensalvas. In 1934, he edited the workers magazine The New Tide,
which connected him to Sanora Babb, Richard Wright, William Carlos Williams, and others. Hospitalized in Los Angeles for serious health issues (including

B u l o s a n , C a r l o s

tuberculosis) from 1936 to 1938, Bulosan received encouragement from his brother
Aurelio, friend Dorothy Babb (Sanoras sister), and Poetry editor Harriet Monroe
to nurture his craft. He enthusiastically studied a wide variety of authors including Gorky, Neruda, Tolstoy, Rizal, Bonifacio, and various Marxist literary critics.
According to friend Dolores Feria, Bulosan sharpened his political analysis with
issues of New Masses, the New Republic, and the Nation.
Bulosan was a prolific writer of essays, poems, and fiction from the early 1930s
until his death in 1956. Through World War II, Bulosan produced some of his
most widely recognized works: Laughter of My Father, a satirical indictment of
Philippine class society (1944); and America Is in the Heart, his classic ethnobiographical testament to the resourcefulness and militancy of the Philippine peasantry and Filipino workers (1946). Bulosan occupied a prominent position on the
U.S. cultural Left as well as in the popular imagination of the American public. He
was listed in Whos Who and commissioned by President Roosevelt in 1943 to write
Freedom from Want, which was displayed at the San Francisco federal building
and published in the Saturday Evening Post with a Norman Rockwell illustration.
Despite celebrity, Bulosan remained committed to advancing the struggles of working and exploited people in the United States and the Philippines.
Blacklisted in the United States and by CIA-supported Philippine President Magsaysay, Bulosan reaffirmed his political/artistic visions during the postwar period. In
1949, he defended the rights of leading figures of the Local 7, FTACIOErnesto
Mangaoang, Chris Mensalvas, Ponce Torres, Casimiro Bueno Absolor, and Joe Prudenciocharged for membership in the Communist Party, USA. In 1952, Mensalvas invited Bulosan to edit the International Longshoremans and Warehousemens
Union, Local 37, Yearbook (Seattle), which includes a passionate call to release
imprisoned Philippine-based poet/labor-union leader Amado V. Hernandez.
Around 1955, inspired by Luis Tarucs Born of the People (1953), Bulosan wrote The
Cry and the Dedication, a complexly layered dramatization of the anti-imperialist
Huk peasant insurgency in the Philippines. It was posthumously edited and published in 1977 by U.S.-based Filipino scholar-activist, cultural theorist, and artist
E. San Juan Jr. (republished, 1995).
Scholars and activists continue to reclaim Bulosans imagination, which fuses
U.S. proletarian literary aesthetics and third-world subaltern resistance. In the late
1980s, revered Philippine-based playwright Bienvenido Lumbera created an opera
in Filipino, the national language, based on America Is in the Heart. During the
1990s, Bulosan was a prominent subject of dissertations (Timothy Libretti), and
landmark publications in American studies (Michael Denning) and U.S. ethnic/
cultural studies (E. San Juan Jr.).
Jeffrey Arellano Cabusao
Further Reading
Campomanes, Oscar V. Carlos Bulosan. Encyclopedia of the American Left. Ed. Mary Jo
Buhle et al. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1992.



Bulosan, Carlos

Denning, Michael. The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century. New York: Verso, 1996.
De Vera, Arleen. Without Parallel: The Local 7 Deportation Cases, 19491955. Amerasia
Journal 20.2 (1994): 125.
Evangelista, Susan. Carlos Bulosan and His Poetry: A Biography and Anthology. Quezon City,
Philippines: Ateneo de Manila UP, 1985.
Libretti, Tim. First and Third Worlds in U.S. Literature: Rethinking Carlos Bulosan.
MELUS 23.4 (Winter 1998): 13555.
Patrick, Josephine. Remembering Carlos: Interview with Josephine Patrick. By Odette
Taverna. Katipunan (April 1989): 1314.
San Juan, E., Jr. Carlos Bulosan and the Imagination of the Class Struggle. Quezon City, Philippines: U of the Philippines P, 1972.
San Juan, E., Jr. From Exile to Diaspora: Versions of the Filipino Experience in the United States.
Boulder, CO: Westview P, 1998.
Schirmer, Daniel B., and Stephen Rosskamm Shalom, eds. The Philippines Reader: A History
of Colonialism, Neocolonialism, Dictatorship, and Resistance. Boston, MA: South End P,

Ca n a d i a n L i t e r at u r e ( A n g l o p h o n e )
The distinction of Canada as a political and cultural territory has its taproot in the
latter decades of the 18th centuryin the churning years of commercial and military contest between France and Britain for North American domination, followed
by the upheavals of the American Revolution. Spurred by the search for settlement
or by the strategies of commerce or war, the period saw vast movements of Aboriginal, French, and British groups, all of whose changing and local circumstances
required spontaneously close collaborations, and whose feelings for and formal
allegiances with each other were often ambivalent or volatile. Thus, an imaginary
stage was set for an anxious triangle of Canadian typesQubcois, British, and
Indianwhose mutual contradictions must repeatedly be explored and imaginatively resolved in the literature of the coming century. Often a fourth type, the
new American, produced a fretful square. This political allegory plays itself out in
personal dramas at the center of novels such as John Richardsons Wacousta (1832)
and its sequel The Canadian Brothers (1840), Rosanna Leprohons Antoinette de
Mirecourt (1864), and William Kirbys The Golden Dog (1877); of poetry by Charles
Mair, Isabella Valancy Crawford, and Duncan Campbell Scott; and of settler memoirs such as Susanna Moodies Roughing It in the Bush (1852). At the start of the 20th
century, the first important Canadian political novel, Sara Jeannette Duncans The
Imperialist (1904), began to turn away from this triangle in order to confront the
contradiction between an internalized American social formation and a residual
British culture. Meanwhile, Mohawk poet Pauline Johnson emerged influentially to
write political poetry and criticism that radically revised the 19th-century Indian
type employed as a catalyst in the imaginary synthesis of French and English elements. However, this triangular political allegory never disappears, returning in
such later texts as Leonard Cohens novel Beautiful Losers (1966).
Near the end of the 19th century, the influence of maternal and new woman
feminisms produced complex, ambivalent critiques of patriarchal power and social
norms that broke away from the constraints of domestic realism, in novels such
as Joanna Woods The Untempered Wind (1894) and Duncans A Daughter of Today
(1895). An important focus was the trials of the professional woman, as in Madge
Macbeths Shackles (1926). In the period between the world wars, the critical representation of oppressive patriarchy was an important element in fiction by Mazo de
la Roche and Martha Ostenso, as well as by male writers such as Frederick Philip
Grove and Sinclair Ross. In the latter half of the 20th century, many influential


C a n a d i a n L i t e r at u r e ( A n g l o p h o n e )

female writers emerged alongside Second Wave feminism, such as Margaret Laurence, Phyllis Webb, Alice Munro, Margaret Atwood, and Daphne Marlatt. Struggling additionally to illuminate racial oppression were writers such as Caribbean
Canadian poet Dionne Brand and Japanese Canadian fiction writer Joy Kogawa.
Such feminist influences have also powerfully intertwined with Aboriginal experience in a rapidly growing body of Inuit and First Nations literature, as in poetry by
Louise Bernice Halfe and fiction by Jeannette Armstrong.
Literature between the Great War and the 1950s reflected new concerns arising
from the substantial immigration of groups neither French nor British, such as the
Scandinavian and German communities in the fiction of Grove and Martha Ostenso.
It also explicitly registered and explored new class conflicts and class consciousness, which arose from bank foreclosures of land in rural economies, widespread
industrialization, and urban growth, all capped by the Depression. The rise of leftist labor, political, and artists organizations and the currency of Marxist discourse
is central to the development of canonical modernism in Canadaforemost the
poets F. R. Scott and Dorothy Livesay, along with other poets active on the left, such
as A. M. Klein, Phyllis Webb, and Earle Birney. Novelists such as J. G. Sime, in Our
Little Life (1921), and Morley Callaghan explored the walls between working and
bourgeois classes via urban realism. A landmark novel by Irene Baird, Waste Heritage (1939), creates a vision of modern society based on the organized mass protest
of unemployed workers in Vancouver and Victoria in 1938. The class-exploitation
political concerns of these decades are inherited by activist poets Milton Acorn
and Bronwen Wallace, the Neruda-influenced poet Pat Lowther, and the covertoperations scholar and poet Peter Dale Scott, author of Coming to Jakarta (1988).
Such concerns are also found in fictionfor example, in Armstrongs novel of
aboriginal oppression, Whispering in Shadows (2000); Margaret Sweatmans novel
of the 1919 Winnipeg General Strike, Fox (1991); and Brian Fawcetts Cambodia
(1986). Influenced by such sources as McLuhanism (Marshall McLuhan), language
writing, and criture feminine, a leftist politics has also been explored as a formal
possibility in language media by writers such as Steve McCaffery in North of Intention (1986).
Finally, it may be observed that antipatriarchal, antiracist, antihomophobic, and
class-based social critiques are typical of contemporary Canadian fiction writing
in English by writers such as Atwood, Laurence, and Marlatt, already mentioned,
and most notably by Michael Ondaatje, Timothy Findley, Rudy Wiebe, Robert
Kroetsch, Jane Urquhart, Susan Swan, and Tomson Highway. These and others
have turned to poetic or fictional forms that use historical records and documents
to explore political and social conflicts, or find alternative historical communities,
in the past. A powerful example of the latter is George Elliott Clarkes evocation of
an African Canadian community in Whylah Falls (1991); and, of the former, Wayne
Johnstons historiographic metafiction of Newfoundland, The Colony of Unrequited
Dreams (1998).
Glenn Willmott

C a n a d i a n L i t e r at u r e ( F r a n c o p h o n e )

Further Reading
Brydon, Diana, ed. Testing the Limits: Postcolonial Theories and Canadian Literature. Special
issue of Essays on Canadian Writing 56 (Fall 1995).
Craig, Terrence. Racial Attitudes in English-Canadian Fiction, 19051980. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 1987.
Creelman, David. Setting in the East: Maritime Realist Fiction. Montral: McGill-Queens UP,
Davey, Frank. Canadian Literary Power. Edmonton, AB: NeWest P, 1994.
Dean, Misao. Practising Femininity: Domestic Realism and the Performance of Gender in Early
Canadian Fiction. Toronto: U Toronto P, 1998.
Heble, Ajay, Donna Palmateer Pennee, and J. R. (Tim) Struthers, eds. New Contexts of Canadian Criticism. Peterborough, ON: Broadview P, 1997.
Kertzer, Jonathan. Worrying the Nation: Imagining a National Literature in English Canada.
Toronto: U Toronto P, 1998.
Neuman, Shirley, and Smaro Kamboureli, eds. A Mazing Space: Writing Canadian, Women
Writing. Edmonton, AB: Longspoon/NeWest P, 1986.
Willmott, Glenn. Unreal Country: Modernity in the Canadian Novel in English. Montral:
McGill-Queens UP, 2002.

Ca n a d i a n L i t e r at u r e ( F r a n c o p h o n e )
The first French Canadian novel appeared only in 1837, because of the condemnation of this genre by powerful clerical and lay leaders. The imitative gothic mode
was the main trend until the mid-1840s when there emerged the roman de la terre
(novel of the land). After the defeat of the 18371838 uprisings for independence
from Britain, ideologues imposed a defensive, mythic nationalism that held that
French Canadian survival lay in a traditional Catholic, farm-based society and culture. Realism and naturalism were taboo. Thus, the novel of the land would dominate novel production well into the 1950s even though an urban, industrialized
society was already pronounced on the eve of World War I.
Cracks in the armor of the generally otherworldly roman de la terre (also called
the roman de la fidlit, novel of faithfulness) appeared as early as 1863 with
Philippe Aubert de Gasps historical novel, Les Anciens Canadiens. At the beginning of the 20th century, Rodolphe Girards Marie Calumet (1904), in a mode of
Rabelaisian anticlerical satire, and Albert Laberges Bitter Bread (La Scouine, 1918),
in a mode of stark naturalism, attacked the idealization of the land. On the other
hand, the celebrated Maria Chapdelaine (1916), by the gifted Brittany-born Louis
Hmon, rekindled the traditional novel with its mystical tones combined with
realistic touches. In 1937, Philippe Panneton (writing as Ringuet) produced his
classic work Thirty Acres (Trente Arpents), which basically sealed the fate of the idealized rural novel with its fatalist picture of the fragility of farm life in the face of
war, market instability, rural exodus to city factories, and resulting linguistic and
social alienation. Similarly, though with more warmth, Germaine Guvremonts
The Outlanders (Le Survenant, 1945) flayed rural isolationism and stressed collective giving over individualistic taking. The last major novel of fidlit was F.-A.



C a n a d i a n L i t e r at u r e ( F r a n c o p h o n e )

Savards Master of the River (Menaud matre-draveur, 1938), which treated French
Canadian dispossession with mythic and ethnocentric essentialism.
With the massive movement of rural folk to the cities from the eve of World War
II to 1950, the novel inevitably set its preferred milieu in the crowded workingclass areas of large urban centers. Roger Lemelins satirical The Town Below (Au pied
de la pente douce, 1944) and Gabrielle Roys emblematic work of social realism, The
Tin Flute (Bonheur doccasion, 1945) irrevocably affected this fundamental change.
The Depression, the conscription crisis, and the weakening influence of the church
on peoples lives emerged in these and subsequent works by the two authors, especially in Roys The Cashier (Alexandre Chenevert, 1954), with its pointed critique of
capitalism and religions role in its maintenance. The early postwar era also witnessed the publication of the automatiste artists manifesto, Total Rejection (Refus
global, 1948), by Paul-Emile Borduas, which also scored capitalism and religion,
as well as Stalinism, and has had a pronounced influence on artistic and literary
experimentation until the present time.
Industrial conflict appeared episodically in the works of the pioneers of urban
social realism. In the 1950s, writers of lesser talent, like Jean-Jules Richard and
Pierre Glinas, gave greater play to this phenomenon. The formers Fire in Asbestos
(Le Feu dans lamiante, 1956) treats the pivotal miners strike of 1949, while the
latters The Living, the Dead, the Others (Les Vivants, les morts et les autres, 1959)
includes chapters on lumber and retail walkouts, as well as the iconic hockey riot
of 1955 and the crisis in the radical Left following Khrushchevs condemnation of
Stalin before the Soviet Communist Congress of 1956. Yet neither work succeeds
in creating full-blooded characters. Andr Langevins existentialist Dust over the
City (Poussire sur la ville, 1953) is also set in the asbestos region of eastern Quebec, but only as background for a tragedy of failed love between a petty bourgeois
doctor and his wife of humbler origin. It underlines the cultural and economic
alienation of French-speaking workers in the employ of U.S.-owned mines.
It would be some two decades before there would be another ambitious attempt
to create a saga of working-class life against the background of economic and
political strife. Paul Villeneuves long novel Johnny Bungalow (1974) covers the late
Depression period to the first violent acts in 1963 by the Front de Libration du
Qubec (FLQ). It was particularly successful in its portrayal of the courageous
matriarch, Marguerite, but criticized for structural flaws.
With the death of the repressive Quebec premier, Maurice Duplessis, in 1959,
the floodgates opened to rapid modernization and secularization throughout Quebec. Novels by major writers helped usher in the subsequent so-called Quiet Revolution, which, as noted, also saw turbulent events staged by the minuscule but
influential FLQ (19631970). The term Qubcois replaced the vaguer Canadien franais to designate a majority within the limits of Quebec, which a substantial number of citizens wanted to make an independent nation-state. First-person
narration became a hallmark of the novel, as did outbursts of eroticism, anger, and
verbal violence, some of it paralleling real events.
Grard Bessettes Not for Every Eye (Le Libraire, 1960)a self-reflexive
journal-novel in which a jaded antihero outsmarts his boss and clerical censors

C a n a d i a n L i t e r at u r e ( F r a n c o p h o n e )

by selling books on the Indexmarked an important turning point by creating

the first Qubcois protagonist. The latters Knife on the Table (Le Couteau sur la
table, 1965), Claude Jasmins Ethel and the Terrorist (Ethel et le terroriste, 1964), and
especially Hubert Aquins Next Episode (Prochain pisode, 1965) presented heroes
engaged in, or contemplating, political violence. Godbout coined the term texte
national for these and other works that reflected rising national consciousness.
His positively self-assertive Hail Galarneau (Salut Galarneau, 1967) was followed
by the pessimistically nationalist Les Ttes Papineau (Papineaus heads, 1981), a
fantasy about a bicephalic (and bilingual) character who loses his French nature
following surgery. This work, and Yves Beauchemins xenophobic best-seller The
Alley Cat (Le Matou, 1981), can be seen as varied fictional reactions to the defeat
of the sovereignty-association referendum of 1980. Godbouts novel, The Golden
Galarneaus (Le Temps des Galarneau, 1993), like Le Matou, reflects animosity
toward immigrants.
The young writers grouped around the journal Parti pris (Our stand is taken,
19631968)which promoted a secular, Socialist, and independent Quebec
chose joual, the highly anglicized, truncated jargon of poor French-speaking
workers of Montreal, as a literary tool meant to hold up a mirror to their alienation
in order to overcome it. The most characteristic work in this mold was Jacques
Renauds lower-depths novella Broke City (Le Cass, 1964).
Jacques Ferron, a brilliant writer of tales, also produced novels that reflected
the preoccupations of the Parti pris group. But unlike their naturalistic/realistic
approach, he chose the mode of magical realism for his Dr. Cotnoir (Cotnoir, 1962)
and The Juneberry Tree (LAmlanchier, 1970), both treating deviant mental behavior caused by social dysfunction.
Two premier novelists who made their mark in the 1960s are Marie-Claire Blais
and Rjean Ducharme. The first used the long-repressed carnivalesque mode and
surrealism in her satire of the preWorld War II idealized rural family and the
church in A Season in the Life of Emmanuel (Une Saison dans la vie dEmmanuel,
1965). The second, through verbal fireworks and bizarre characters, showed
nationalist tendencies in Le Nez qui voque (an untranslatable word play, 1967) and
Wild to Mild (LHiver de force, 1973), particularly concerning the central language
issue. But in the latter, he distanced himself from the pretentiousness of the new
elites of the pro-independence Parti Qubcois, his heroes employers.
One of Quebecs finest writers is Anne Hbert, author of the striking short story
Le Torrent (1950), which symbolically thrashed the toll caused by guilt-ridden
Catholic rigorisme. First a major poet, she turned to the novel form in The Silent
Rooms (Les Chambres de bois, 1958). Although set in northern France, it may be
an allegory for Quebecs shift from traditionalism to modernism. In it, the metal
workers daughter, Catherine, escapes from the demented ambiance of the Parisian
apartment she shares with her wealthy husband to find freedom and love with a
manual worker/potter in the sunny Midi. Hbert reached a summit in her formidable protofeminist Kamouraska (1970), with its echoes of the risings of 1837
1838 and cultural alienation. Hbert continued her feminist quest in In the Shadow
of the Wind (Les Fous de Bassan, 1982), a violent tale of rape and murder in an



C a n a d i a n L i t e r at u r e ( F r a n c o p h o n e )

Anglophone sectarian community strongly resembling the inbred French-speaking

parishes of yore.
Another protofeminist writer, Claire Martin, produced an outstanding
two-volume autobiography that reads like a novel: In an Iron Glove and The Right
Cheek (Dans un gant de fer, 1965, 1966). Covering her first quarter century, the
books center on the sadistic father and brutalized mother and their daughters, all
trapped in a web of church-inspired sexual dualism. Martin denounces, too, the
anti-Semitism of her convent education.
Gabrielle Roy, a pioneer in sympathetically treating Canadas mosaic of races
and cultures, published Windflower (La Rivire sans repos, 1970), set in subarctic
Ungava. The heroine is an Inuit woman who is raped by a southern-born U.S.
soldier during World War II. Her son becomes a bomber pilot in Vietnam, the brutalized people of which remind her of her own dark-skinned folk. Yves Thriault is
a prolific novelist, many of whose characters also belong to ethnic or racial minorities. Self-taught, he, like Martin, flayed Christian anti-Semitism in his Aaron
(1954, 1957), and presented strong Amerindian figures in Ashini (1960) and Ntsuk
(1968). But his breathtaking best-seller Agaguk (1958) and the rest of his Eskimo
trilogy is stamped with neocolonialism. His Inuit characters resemble Amerindians
in their social organization, and repressed Qubcois in their sexual mores.
It is generally accepted that the most important trend in Quebec novel writing
in the 1970s was the appearance of a cohort of feminist writers who revolutionized
the form and content of the genre. Nicole Brossards These Our Mothers; or, The Disintegrating Chapter (LAmer; ou le chapitre effrit, 1977) attacks Quebecs long-lasting
stress on womens reproductive function. Louky Bersianiks The Euguelionne (LEugulionne, 1976), meaning she who brings the good news, is a multigeneric
compendium of fiction, essay, manifesto, feminist dictionary, and sex manual. It
mixes satire (of Freud, Lacan, the Old and New Testaments) with a denunciation
of war and colonialism. France Theorets Well talk the way one writes (Nous parlerons comme on crit, 1982), in a more autobiographical vein, treats imposed female
silence in striking surrealistic images. While dealing positively with Quebecs ideological evolution in the 1960s and 1970s, the narrators persona criticizes the leftist
dogmatism of colleagues in her teachers union and elsewhere.
Strong women characters also appear in Antonine Maillets novels set in Frenchspeaking New Brunswick. Author of the brilliant La Sagouine (1971)the dramatic monologues in the Acadian dialect of her slattern-washerwoman, with their
dialectical, biting commentaries on the haves and have-notsshe followed it with
Maria, Daughter of Glas (Mariaaglas, 1973), about a resourceful rum smuggler of
the Prohibition era who sets fire to a fish-packing plant in protest of its grim work
environment. Her best-known work is Plagie, the Return to a Homeland (Plagie-lacharrette, 1979)a text replete with legends and folktales that recount the 1755
expulsion of the Acadians, their scattering in the American colonies, and their epic
trek back to their land (17701780) through the eyes of generations of chroniclers.
A critique of U.S. politics and culture has appeared in a number of Quebec novels
of the last 30 years. Andr Langevins LElan dAmrique (1972) used nouveau roman
techniques to paint a depressing picture of the assault on traditional life in the North

C a n a d i a n L i t e r at u r e ( F r a n c o p h o n e )

by American technology. Jacques Godbouts LIle au dragon (Dragon island, 1976)

and An American Story (Une Histoire amricaine, 1986) use wit and fantasy to attack,
respectively, a financier who wants to dump atomic waste on a Quebec island, and
the military laboratories of California that are preparing the end of the world ...
inexorably. Marie-Claire Blaiss much deeper, richly crafted These Festive Nights (Soifs,
1995), set in Key West, presents characters haunted by the memory of Nazi atrocities, the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, the electrocution of black prisoners, and the
bombing of Baghdad during the first Gulf War. Also outstanding is Jacques Poulins
Volkswagen Blues (1984), which probes Amricanit (Americanness) through the eyes
of its two protagoniststhe Quebec City writer, Jack, and his traveling companion,
the Mtis car mechanic, Pitsmine. They crisscross the United States from northeast
to southwest, each reading American history from their respective Francophone and
Amerindian heritages. While he is excited by the traces of French colonialism, she is
appalled by the killings and dispossession of Native peoples. Jack finds his estranged
brother, Tho, in San Francisco, but the latter understands no French, thus symbolizing the loss of culture in the melting pot.
The gay colony of Key West figures prominently in celebrated dramatist Michel
Tremblays novels The Heart Laid Bare (Le Coeur dcouvert. Roman damours, 1986)
and Heartburst (Le Coeur clat, 1993). These largely autobiographical works are
set against the AIDS crisis, and treat the end of a decades-long homosexual relationship. Artificially sprinkled with joual, they lack the social dimensions and
magic of Tremblays earlier cycle of novels drawn from his childhood in Montreals
poor East End, especially The Fat Woman Next Door Is Pregnant (La Grosse Femme
d ct est enceinte, 1978) and Thrse and Pierrette and the Hanging Angel (Thrse
et Pierrette lcole des Saints-Pres, 1980).
A much-commented phenomenon in Qubcois letters is the significant presence over the past three decades of writers born abroad. They come from many
corners of the world: the Far and Middle East, the Caribbean (particularly Haiti),
Latin America, and several European countries. A parallel phenomenon is the presence of figures from Quebecs ethnic and racial minorities in novels by writers of
the majority culture (and not exclusively negative portraits, as in the examples
above). Many of these writers highlight political and social concerns in their works
at a time when native novelists adopted more psychological and autobiographical
modes. Among the above writers are the Haitian natives; the late Emile Ollivier
(Passages, 1990) and Dany Laferrire (The taste for young girls [Le Got des jeunes
filles, 1991]), who invoke the horrors of the Duvalier years and the Tontons-Macoute; and Gloria Escomel (Traps [Piges, 1991]), who treats with sympathy the
struggle for social justice in her birthplace, Uruguay, while posing pertinent questions about the ends and means of politics, and the tensions between political
engagement and co-optation.
There are also important works by the Parisian native Rgine Robin and the
prolific Brazilian-born Sergio Kokis (Le Pavillon des miroirs [The Pavilion of Mirrors, 1994]), who portrays the lumpen-proletarian ambiance of his birthplace,
Rio de Janeiro, with stunning naturalistic and somewhat misogynic portraits and,
like most of the foreign-born novelists, is obsessed by problems of identity. Robin



C a n a d i a n L i t e r at u r e ( F r a n c o p h o n e )

penned Lenins white horse (Le Cheval blanc de Lnine, 1979), the much more artistic
The Wanderer (La Qubcoite, 1983), and striking essays like Socialist Realism, an
Impossible Aesthetic (1995). Of Polish-Jewish origin, an academic with a militant
radical past, and a miraculous survivor of the Nazi occupation of France, haunted
by the deaths of scores of relatives in the Holocaust, she is torn between her birthplace and Montreal. Her deftly structured La Qubcoite (a neologism, meaning
the silent Quebec woman) sounds the narrators/authors search for identity,
expressing fear of xenophobia in France and narrow Francophone nationalism in
Quebec, but also revulsion over the Montreal Jewish establishments right-wing
views, especially its condoning of Israeli repression of the Palestinians.
As for the growing consciousness by Quebec old-stock writers of the new face
of multilingual, multiethnic Montreal, a significant case in point is Francine Nols
We all discovered America (Nous avons tous dcouvert lAmrique, 1990). Set in the
upper-middle class, largely Francophone area of Outremont in Montreal, it deals
sensitively with tensions between the dominant group and Hassidic newcomers,
ending on gestures of mutual respect and understanding, as implied by the title.
Monique La Rues booklet The surveyor and the navigator (LArpenteur et le navigateur, 1995) created a broad debate on like issues by exposing xenophobic attitudes
of some native writers toward foreign-born colleagues.
The last decades, as noted, were dominated by introspective novels, though
politically engaged works have continued to appear, including satires on the formerly dominant Catholic culture, such as Franois Barcelos I saw you, Saint Mary
(Je vous ai vue, Marie, 1990) and Pierre Lons A Huron in Alsace (Un Huron en Alsace,
2002); depictions of Nazism and the Holocaust, such as Monique Boscos Confiteor
(1996) and F. Carniccionis The Jewish woman (La Juive, 2002); and critiques of
colonialism, such as Louis Lefebvres Guanahanni (1991). Moreover, with Quebec
doubling, proportionately, the number of novels appearing yearly in France, and
the surge of the socially progressive Bloc Qubcois in the 2004 federal elections,
perhaps there will be a significant reappearance of the fiction of engagement.
Ben-Z. Shek
Further Reading
Gould, Karen. Writing in the Feminine: Feminism and Experimental Writing in Quebec. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1990.
Major, Robert. The American Dream in Nineteenth-Century Quebec: Ideologies and Utopia in
Antoine Grin-Lajoies Jean Rivard. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1996.
Purdy, Anthony. A Certain Difficulty of Being: Essays on the Quebec Novel. Montreal: McGill
UP, 1990.
Shek, Ben-Z. French-Canadian and Qubcois Novels. Toronto, Oxford UP, 1991.
Shek, Ben-Z. Social Realism in the French-Canadian Novel. Montreal: Harvest House, 1977.
Smart, Patricia. Writing in the Fathers House: The Emergence of the Feminine in the Quebec
Literary Tradition. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1991.
Toye, William E., ed. The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. New York: Oxford UP,

C a p e k , K a r e l

Warwick, Jack. The Long Journey: Literary Themes of French Canada. Toronto: U of Toronto
P, 1968.
Yale French Studies 65 (1983). Special issue entitled The Language of Difference: Writing
in Qubc(ois).

ap e k , Ka r e l ( 1 8 9 0 1 9 3 8 )
Novelist, playwright, poet, translator, philosopher, and journalist, he was one of
the great figures of modern Czech literature. He is widely known as the author
of R.U.R. (Rossums Universal Robots, 1920), the play that introduced the word
robot (from the Czech word for worker or serf) to the global lexicon. His novel
War with the Newts (1936)a complex satire of Fascism and Fascist ideologyis
regarded today as a classic of science fiction.
Capek was born in Mal Svatonovice, Bohemia (then a province of Austria-Hungary). His intellectual development was nurtured in a middle-class household,
where both Karel and his older brother Josef (18871945)who became a successful painter, novelist, and dramatistwere encouraged to pursue their artistic
and intellectual interests. Capek began writing poetry and short stories in high
school. In 1909, he entered the Charles University of Prague to study philosophy. His enthusiasm for poetry and the short story evolved into a deeper subject
of inquiry through his discovery of William James, Ortega y Gasset, and Henri
Capek was influenced by H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. His most
important work explores social and philosophical problems, especially the future
of industrial society. Capek demonstrates that the exploitation of labor through
technology and eugenics leads to disaster. In R.U.R., scientists build robots that
learn how to reproduce themselves without their human masters, against whom
they rebel and destroy. In War with the Newts, a sea captain discovers a race of
intelligent talking newts that are bred by speculators in large numbers to work
in factories. The Newts develop a totalitarian philosophy, then succeed in flooding the dry land to destroy the human race. Capeks large philosophical themes
are matched by the boldness of his stylistic experimentation. His use of elaborate
parody, self-reference, and multiple authorial voices represent classic expressions
of Menippean satire (and postmodernism). However, Capek wrote in many different styles and genres, from fairy tales, to starkly realistic stories of Czech life, to
panegyrical farces (for example, on how society could be improved if people had
wheels instead of legs), to short commentaries on aesthetics, Nazism, racism, and
the decline of democracy in Europe.
Capeks career was rooted in the causes of democracy, liberal politics, and Czech
nationalism. He worked through the Society of Nations and the worldwide PEN
Club to alert European consciousness to the true character of the Nazi movement.
When H. G. Wells nominated Capek for standing chairmanship of the PEN Club,
Capek immediately resigned to protest the European situation. Citing his antiwar
message, the Norwegian press nominated Capek for the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1936. The nomination was vetoed by the Swedish Academy, who feared



Cardenal, Ernesto

reprisals from Hitler. In September 1938, the settlement of Munich canceled any
remaining guarantees of Czechoslovakias integrity. Exhausted by his efforts and
disillusioned by Europes capitulation, Capek died of pneumonia on Christmas
Day 1938, three months before the German invasion. He had been the third man
on the Gestapos arrest list of dangerous Czech nationals. Josef Capek was arrested
after the annexation and died in a concentration camp in 1945.
Carter Kaplan
Further Reading
Bradbrook, Bohuslava R. Karel Capek: In Pursuit of Truth, Tolerance and Trust. Brighton, UK:
Sussex Academic P, 1997.
Klima, Ivan. Karel Capek: Life and Works. Trans. by Norma Comrada. North Haven, CT:
Catbird P, 2002.

Ca r d e n al , E r n e s t o ( 1 9 2 5 )
Poet, Catholic priest, and Marxist revolutionary, Cardenal easily ranks as the most
important literary figure to have emerged from Nicaragua since the luminary of
modernista poetry, Rubn Daro, at the turn of the century. His life and work are
closely bound to the often turbulent modern history of his small Central American
homeland. Widely known as the rebel priest and standard-bearer of Latin American liberation theology, who served as minister of culture for the triumphant Sandinista Revolution between 1979 and 1988, Cardenal has also been a prolific and
original poet, comparable in stature in 20th-century Latin America to Octavio Paz
and Pablo Neruda, whose mystic idealism and earthliness, respectively, to some
degree he synthesizes. Alongside the anti-poetry of Chiles Nicanor Parra, Cardenals work established a new style of concrete social and political poetry in Latin
America. Heavily influenced by Ezra Pound, Cardenal called his style exteriorismo
and defined it as an objective poetry employing narrative elements, everyday
diction, nonmetaphorical language, and a dense array of historical references.
Cardenals life falls into three major phases, all chronicled in his trilogy of memoirs. The first phase begins with his precocious adolescence as a poet of amorous obsession and bohemian dissipation under the spell of Daro, moves through
growing political awareness during his student days in Mexico and New York City,
and culminates in his participation in a failed attempt to overthrow Nicaraguan
dictator Anastasio Somoza Garca in the April rebellion of 1954. The poems in
Epigrams (Epigramas, 1961) and Zero Hour (Hora 0, 1959) were products of this
first phase.
Cardenals second phase began when he experienced religious revelation in
1956 and entered the Trappist monastery in Gethsemani, Kentucky, to apprentice
under the novice master Thomas Merton from 1957 to 1959. This second phase is
highlighted by the utopian community Cardenal established in 1966 on an island
in the Great Lake of Nicaraguas archipelago of Solentiname; it was destroyed in
1977 by Somozas government troops. Cardenals prolific poetic output from this

C a r i b b e a n L i t e r at u r e ( A n g l o p h o n e )

period includes Gethsemani, Ky. (1960), Psalms (Salmos, 1964), Marilyn Monroe
and Other Poems (Oracin por Marilyn Monroe y otros poemas, 1965), Homage to the
American Indians (Homenaje a los indios americanos, 1969), and the long historical
poem The Doubtful Strait (El estrecho dudoso, 1966).
In his third phase, Cardenal relinquished strict nonviolence and took an active
leadership role in the Sandinista Liberation Front (FSLN) and its overthrow of the
Somoza Debayle dictatorship in 1979. As minister of culture, Cardenal launched
an ambitious program to democratize the means of cultural production in Nicaragua, including most famously a series of poetry workshops established across
the country for workers and former FSLN combatants. Soon after the closure of
the Ministry of Culture in 1988, two major volumes of Cardenal poetry appeared;
both Golden UFOs: The Indian Poems (Los ovnis de oro: poemas indios, 1991) and the
massive Cosmic Canticle (Cntico csmico, 1989) incorporate many previously published poems alongside new ones, and serve as summa and reformulations of his
poetic career. Cardenal severed his affiliation with the Sandinistas when corruption
among the FSLN leadership was exposed following their electoral defeat in 1990.
He has remained a prominent voice in Nicaraguan life, participating, for example,
in the Stock Exchange of Visions project in 2007.
Steven M. Bell

Further Reading
Borgeson, Paul W., Jr., Hacia el hombre nuevo: poesa y pensamiento de Ernesto Cardenal. London: Tamesis, 1984.
Dawes, Greg. Aesthetics and Revolution: Nicaraguan Poetry, 197990. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1993.
Johnson, Kent, ed. A Nation of Poets: Writings from the Poetry Workshops of Nicaragua. Los
Angeles: West End P, 1985.
Whisnant, David E. Rascally Signs in Sacred Places: The Politics of Culture in Nicaragua.
Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1995.

Ca r i b b e a n L i t e r at u r e ( A n g l o p h o n e )
The cluster of English-speaking islands, once damned as uncreative and culturally sterile by British colonial travelers, has emerged as a dynamic area of literary
and cultural production. While it is true that the Caribbean literary legacy continues to be marked by exile, it is still a formidable one given its relative youth.
With only little more than a century of established writing behind it, Anglophone
Caribbean literature already has several identifiable traits despite its variety. While
Jamaica, Trinidad, and to some extent Guyana and Barbados are the most productive areas of literary output, smaller islands like Antigua and St. Lucia have
contributed famous writers such as Jamaica Kincaid and the 1992 Nobel laureate
Derek Walcott. The latters epic Omeros immortalizes his native island while depicting a shared Caribbean history of genocide, colonization, slavery, plantation labor,
and continued diasporic migration. Walcotts plays and poetry emphasize survival,



C a r i b b e a n L i t e r at u r e ( A n g l o p h o n e )

redemption, and renewal despite the violence and brutality of the past, an ethical
stance repeated in the work of Dennis Scott (Jamaica), Samuel Selvon (Trinidad),
and Earl Lovelace (Trinidad).
One of the most striking characteristics of Anglophone writing in general,
however, is the often stark contrast to the lighthearted, tourist stereotypes of the
region. Unlike the sunny celebrations and ceaseless smiles of travel advertisements, modern Anglophone writing, with George Lamming (Barbados), Andrew
Salkey (Jamaica), Michael Thelwell (Jamaica), and Orlando Patterson (Jamaica) as
examples, is serious, dark, and burdened by the sins of the past, the failure of the
present, and the fears of the future. Even comic renditions such as Selvons include
portrayals of violence and poverty. More contemporary writers such as Caryl Phillips (St. Kitts) echo this portentous mood as they explore the continuing legacy of
slavery and racism. As critic and novelist Sylvia Wynter (Jamaica) has insisted, the
failures catalogued in the pre- and postindependence period of writing accurately
captured the malaise of (post)colonial societies. Wynter, Erna Brodber (Jamaica),
and Kamau Brathwaite (Barbados) demonstrate another postcolonial characteristic, which is that creative writers in the Anglophone Caribbean wear many hats,
using their scholarly backgrounds for critical purposes, and combining sociological analysis with art and performance.
Although Caribbean writing began earlier than the 20th century, critics tend to
identify a more canonical, distinctly local tradition only later. Even modern writers of
the 1950s struggled to articulate an original rather than an epigonous legacy, a shift
from the British West Indies or Commonwealth nomenclature to the independent
Caribbean. Therefore, much of the earlier writing, particularly the poetry, imitated
English forms, whichconsidering that most of the writing was by white Creoles
with conflicted ties to their mother country, Englandwas not surprising. Poems
by Mary Adella Wolcott and Tom Redcam express sentimental attachments to the
Caribbean islands but in poems that seem more tied to English traditions, with an
infusion of local landscape and lifestyle. Not until Claude McKaythe Jamaican
poet and later novelist who migrated to the United States and went on to influence
the Harlem Renaissance there and the negritude writers in Francewas poetry
that spoke directly to the lives of poor black Jamaicans, the majority population,
given much attention. McKays so-called dialect verse, which unabashedly used
black Jamaican Creole, ultimately revolutionized later Anglophone writing, especially the performance poetry of Louise Bennett, the dub poetry of Linton Kwesi
Johnson, Michael Smith, Jean Binta Breeze, and the Sistren Theater Collective, all
from Jamaica. Despite McKays bold innovations, however, succeeding writers such
as Lamming, Wilson Harris (Guyana), and V. S. Naipaul (Trinidad) were largely
colonial descendants of Victorian or high modernist prose traditions. Even as late as
1979, Brathwaites lecture, History of the Voice, demanded a nation language and
orality more suitable to Caribbean rhythms, arguing famously that the hurricane
does not roar in pentameter. Brathwaites own poetry and criticism seek to rehabilitate African connections as well, since the legacy of slavery had distorted black
identity and pride. The controversial Nobel laureate Naipaul is the most prominent
Indo-Caribbean writer; David Dabydeen (Guyana), now in the United Kingdom,

C a r i b b e a n L i t e r at u r e ( A n g l o p h o n e )

Cyril Dabydeen, and Naipauls nephew, Neil Bissoondath (Trinidad), based in Canada, are promising younger Indo-Caribbean writers.
The writers who made their reputation following the 1950s may have left the
most distinct imprint on modern Anglophone writing, but they owe much to an
earlier generation of intellectuals who struggled to initiate a distinct Caribbean
tradition. The nationalist fervor of the 1930s and 1940s, the working-class movements, the peasant rebellions, the anticolonial rhetoric, and the early winds of
independence revolutions that were sweeping much of the British colonial territories influenced a group of writers from different races and backgrounds. Given the
paucity of indigenous publication industries, their pioneering efforts were published in local literary journals such as The Beacon (Trinidad), Bim (Barbados),
Focus (Jamaica), and Kyk-over-al (Guyana). Alfred Mendes and C. L. R. James
(Trinidad), Edgar Mittelholzer and A. J. Seymour (Guyana), Roger Mais and Vic
Reid (Jamaica), and Frank Collymore (Barbados) were the names most associated
with this awakening, as Reinhard Sanders book on Trinidadian literature of
this period puts it. The leftist novelist Ralph De Boissire (Trinidad) also began
writing within this context. But despite the gradual rise of indigenous publishing
outlets such as Ian Randle and the University of West Indies Press, the literary
scene, once established in England and even on the islands by the BBC radio program, Caribbean Voices, is still dominated by the United Kingdom and the United
States, and, following Caribbean migration there, Canada.
The contemporary scene bodes well for women writers, once an invisible species and now increasingly ascendant. The poetry of Grace Nichols (Guyana), Lorna
Goodison (Jamaica), Marlene Nourbese Philip (Tobago), Mahadai Das (Guyana),
and Meiling Jin (Guyana); the novels of Phyllis Allfrey (Dominica), Beryl Gilroy
(Guyana), Merle Hodge (Trinidad), Rosa Guy (Trinidad), Paule Marshall (Barbados), Zee Edgell (Belize), Michelle Cliff (Jamaica), and Jamaica Kincaid (Antigua);
the short stories of Opal Palmer Adisa (Jamaica), Olive Senior (Jamaica), and Ramabai Espinet (Trinidad) are now part of the Caribbean literary tradition. While
more attention needs to be paid to the local scene, there is no doubt that Edwidge
Danticat (Haiti) and Zadie Smith (Jamaica), the former based in the United States
and the latter in the United Kingdom, are among the most spectacular talents in
contemporary world literature.
Supriya Nair

Further Reading
Birbalsingh, Frank. Passion and Exile: Essays on Caribbean Literature. London: Hansib, 1988.
Booker, M. Keith, and Dubravka Juraga. The Caribbean Novel in English: An Introduction.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2001.
Dabydeen, David, and Nan Wilson-Tagoe. A Readers Guide to West Indian and Black British
Literature. Rev. ed. London: Hansib, 1997.
Dash, J. Michael. The Other America: Caribbean Literature in a New World. Charlottesville:
UP of Virginia, 1998.



C a r i b b e a n L i t e r at u r e ( F r a n c o p h o n e )

Davies, Carole Boyce, and Elaine Savory Fido. Out of the Kumbla: Caribbean Women and
Literature. Trenton, NJ: Africa World P, 1990.
Gikandi, Simon. Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature. Ithaca, NY: Cornell
UP, 1992.
King, Bruce, ed. West Indian Literature. 2nd ed. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1995.
Sander, Reinhard W. The Trinidad Awakening: West Indian Literature of the Nineteen-Thirties.
Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1988.

Ca r i b b e a n L i t e r at u r e ( F r a n c o p h o n e )
Francophone Caribbean literature (or Antillean literature) is the literature in French
from Guadeloupe, Martinique, French Guiana, and Haiti. Except in the case of
Haiti, this literature developed along three major concepts: negritude, Caribbeanness, and Creoleness. Critics trace its origins to the rise of the negritude movement (in the 1930s), when black students, intellectuals, and artists revolted against
Frances assimilation policies to adopt an ideology aimed at restoring black and
African values embedded in popular culture. The literary landmark was undoubtedly Aim Csaires Notebook of a Return to My Native Land (Cahier dun retour au
pays natal, 1939).
Four centuries of slavery and colonization had a debilitating effect on the Antilleans psyche, fostering the belief that rescue from savagery was possible only
through Western culture. For Frantz Fanon (Black Skin, White Masks, 1952), this
existential crisis created in the slave a pathological self-hate that undermined his
social equilibrium in a race-conscious community. When, after the Haitian Revolution and Haitis independence (1804) and the abolition of slavery (1848), the mostly
French-educated middle class took to writing, their main goal was to conceal the
barbaric side of Africa and uphold the virtues of Western culture. Writers, ashamed
of black culture, imitated French masters (Hugo, Baudelaire, Rimbaud) to enlist
full acceptance into the mainstream. However, some writers, such as Oruno-Lara
and Suzanne Cascade, recognized their roots. Precursors of the black pride rationale included the indigenist movement, ideas from Cuba, and the Harlem Renaissance in the United States. In Haiti, the U.S. occupation (19151934) rekindled
interests in indigenous culture as a patriotic reaction to outside domination. Jean
Price-Marss Ainsi Parla lOncle and the journal La Revue Indigne played a pivotal
role in the revival. The Cuban poet Nicols Guilln had celebrated the African
heritage that shaped Cuban popular culture. In the United States, the experience
of the Harlem Renaissance writers (Claude McKay, Langston Hughes, James W.
Johnson, Sterling Brown) and musicians already articulated the main tenets of
black pride, as Alain Lockes anthology The New Negro illustrated.
In the 1930s, new ways of thinking that informed movements such as surrealism, Dadaism, and cubism created an atmosphere of doubt that challenged
assumptions of universal values embodied in Western proclamations. Negritude
joined in by denouncing derogatory ontological claims and by revalorizing the
African foundation of the Caribbean culture. This newly found source of pride
initiated a rich crop of literary writings on the islands. Leading figures included

C a r i b b e a n L i t e r at u r e ( F r a n c o p h o n e )

Csaire, Lon-G. Damas, Ren Mnil, Etienne Lro, Jacques Roumain, Stephen
Alxis, Guy Tirolien, Joseph Zobel, and Carl Brouard. The recurrent themes were
the suffering during slavery, colonization, exploitation, and nostalgia for Africa.
Poetry was the most dynamic literary field in which Csaire was the dominant
voice. Following in the footsteps of Ren Maran, novelists explored the past of the
islands and their connections to Africa. In Haiti, the roman paysan depicted with
realism the cornerstone elements (storytelling, voodoo, customs) of the popular
culture. In drama, Csaire was also the main playwright with La Tragdie du roi
Christophe, Une Saison au Congo, and Une Tempte. The journal Prsence Africaine
and the two international congresses of black writers and artists (Paris, 1956; and
Rome, 1959) enlisted an important participation by Caribbean writers.
Negritude as an umbrella concept could not account for the complexity of Caribbean experience. Different political choices (departmentalization for the French
West Indies and independence for African colonies) set Africa and the Caribbean
on different paths. Maryse Cond illustrates the failure to reconnect with the motherland, whereas Myriam Warner-Vieyras experience came out differently. The specificity of the French Caribbean islands required new conceptualizations of identity
quest and addressed vital issues; Caribbeanness and Creoleness were the responses.
The emphasis on Caribbeanness also made important contributions to the
growth of Francophone Caribbean literature. In The Caribbean Discourse, Glissant
situates the identity quest within the context defined by the constant creative flux
of uprooting and transformation. The desire to valorize the very conditions Caribbeans were facing urged writers to focus on pressing issues (poverty, alienation,
economic dependence) relevant to their survival. Such writers rejected the trap of
the negritude dichotomy based on the dualistic oppositions Africa versus Europe
and black versus white. Rather than advocating a return to a pristine Africa that no
one could actually recapture, Glissant recognizes the duty of the artist to restore
the disrupted history by unearthing and linking the cultural past overshadowed
by the traumatic lives under slavery to a meaningful future. He believes that the
foundation of his world is the cross-cultural experience resulting from a network
of rhizomic relations in need of recognition and validation.
During this time, women writers emerged and gained in scope and substance.
Leading figures include Simone Schwarz-Bart, Michle Lacrosil, Cond, Myriam
Warner-Vieyra, Gisle Pineau, Jacqueline Manicon, and Ina Csaire. Schwarz-Barts
novel The Bridge of Beyond (Pluie et vent sur Tlume Miracle, 1972) is the prototype
of a new wave of Francophone Caribbean writing by women.
As developed in a seminal work entitled In Praise of Creoleness (Eloge de la
Crolit, 1989) by Jean Bernab, Patrick Chamoiseau, and Raphal Confiant, the
concept of Creoleness has exerted an important influence on Francophone writing
from the Caribbean. This concept insists on the Creole language and culture as
the cornerstone of society. It recognizes the specificity of the Caribbean Islands
and their racial diversity, popular culture, language, and multiethnic history, and
valorizes literature that contributes to the ongoing establishment of a viable Creole
cultural identity in the Caribbean.



C a r p e n t i e r , Al e j o

Meanwhile in Haiti, economic and political hardships stretching from the Duvaliers to Aristide forced out many writers and intellectuals, thus creating diasporic
sites where they debate issues relevant to Haiti. Writers working from North America include Grard tienne, Jol Lerosier, Emile Ollivier, Dany Laferrire, Anthony
Phelps, and Edwidge Danticat; from France, Jean Mtellus, Ren Depestre, and
Jean-Claude Charles; from Africa, Jean-Franois Brierre, Roger Dorsainville, and
Flix Morisseau-Leroy. Meanwhile, writing in Creole reached a peak with Franktienne (Dzafi, a novel) and gained in prestige in Martinique (Confiants Jik deye do
Bondye and Bitako-A) and Guadeloupe.
Francophone Caribbean literature reflects its peculiar geographical position and
the complex nature of its cultural and political mix. If Martinicans write from their
country, dislocationforced or voluntaryremains a determining factor in the
career of other French Caribbean writers. Many Francophone works and writers have received recognition through two of the most prestigious French literary
prizes. Marans Batouala (1921) and Chamoiseaus Texaco (1992) received the Prix
Goncourt; Glissants La Lzarde (1958) and Hadriana dans tous mes rves (1988)
received the Renaudot.
Kasongo M. Kapanga
Further Reading
Antoine, Rgis. La Littrature franco-antillaise. Paris: Karthala, 1992.
Arthur, Charles, and J. Michael Dash. Libte: A Haitian Anthology. Princeton, NJ: Markus
Wiener, 1999.
Dash, J. Michael. Edouard Glissant. New York: Cambridge UP, 1995.
Dash, J. Michael. Literature and Ideology in Haiti 191561. London: Macmillan, 1981.
Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. New York: Grove, 1982.
Fonkoua, Romuald Blaise. Essai sur une mesure du monde au XXe sicle: Edouard Glissant.
Paris: Honor Champion, 2002.
Glissant, Edouard. Caribbean Discourse: Selected Essays. Trans. J. Michael Dash. Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 1989.
Glissant, Edouard. Poetics of Relation. Trans. Betsy Wing. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1997.
Hoffmann, Lon-Franois. Le roman hatien. Sherbrooke, QC: Naaman, 1982.
Kesteloot, Lilyan. Black Writers in French: A Literary History of Negritude. Philadelphia:
Temple UP, 1974.

Ca r p e n t i e r , A l e j o ( 1 9 0 4 1 9 8 0 )
Son of a French father and Russian mother, Alejo Carpentier was a novelist, shortstory writer, essayist, musicologist, and critic. According to his birth registry, he was
actually born in Lausanne, Switzerland, on December 26, 1904, although he consistently claimed to have been born in Havana on that same date. He studied music at
an early age with his mother, and briefly began a career in architecture at the University of Havana in 1921. In that same year, he became known as a writer of criticism
in several Havana periodicals. Due to his opposition to the dictatorship of Gerardo

Csaire, Aim

Machado, he was imprisoned in 1927; the following year he left for Paris, where he
resided until 1939. While there, he carried out extraordinary work as an ambassador
of Cuban culture and came into contact with the most outstanding representatives
of the avant-garde movementespecially the members of the surrealist movement,
who exerted an important influence, though Carpentier ultimately rejected surrealism. His definitively anti-Fascist position led him to declare himself in favor of the
Republican cause during the Spanish Civil War and to take part as Cuban representative at the Second Congress for the Defense of Culture, held in Madrid and
Valencia in 1937. Upon returning to Cuba, he stayed on the island until 1945, and
then moved to Caracas, where he produced a significant part of his literary work.
He returned to Cuba as a result of the 1959 Cuban Revolution, after which he
held relevant positions in the cultural sphere of his country. From 1966 until his
death, he held the position of minister adviser at the Embassy of Cuba in Paris.
Among other international recognitions, he was awarded the Cino del Duca World
Award (1975), the Alfonso Reyes International Award (1975), the Foreign Medicis
Award (1979), and the Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra Award (1979), the highest
prize awarded to Spanish-speaking writers. His works have been translated into
many languages and have been adapted to the cinema on more than one occasion.
Carpentiers numerous novels reveal his deep humanism and his devotion to
promoting Latin American culture as an important component of world culture.
Important novels include The Kingdom of This World (El reino de este mundo, 1949),
Manhunt (El Acoso, 1956), Explosion in a Cathedral (El siglo de las luces, 1962), Reasons of State (El recurso del mtodo, 1974), Baroque Concierto (Concierto Barroco,
1974), The Consecration of Spring (La consagracin de la primavera, 1978), and The
Harp and the Shadow (El arpa y la sombra, 1979). Perhaps his greatest masterpiece
was The Lost Steps (Los pasos perdidos, 1953), a crucial forerunner of both the Latin
American boom and the entire phenomenon of magic realism.
Sergio Chaple and David H. Uzzell Jr.
Further Reading
Chaple, Sergio. Estudios de narrative cubana. Havana: Ediciones Unin, 1996.
Gonzlez Echeverra, Roberto. Alejo Carpentier: The Pilgrim at Home. Ithaca, NY: Cornell
UP, 1977.
Gonzlez Echeverra, Roberto, and Klaus Muller-Bergh. Alejo Carpentier: Bibliographical
Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1983.
Padura Fuentes, Leonardo. Un camino de medio siglo; Carpentier y la narrative de lo real maravilloso. Havana: Editorial Letras Cubanas, 1994.
Shaw, Donald Leslie. Alejo Carpentier. Boston: Twayne, 1985.

Csaire, Aim (19132008)

The Martinican poet and statesman Aim Csaire is undoubtedly the seminal
figure of the 20th-century movement of decolonization in the French-speaking
world. Other political figures such as Skou Tour (Guinea) and Kwame Nkrumah



Csaire, Aim

(Ghana) played a more direct role in the political process of decolonization, and
writers such as Frantz Fanon and Edouard Glissant also contributed to the cultural
critique of colonialism. With the possible exception of Lopold Sdar Senghor,
however, only Csaire combined the enormous cultural influence of a literary and
critical attack on colonialism with an active political engagement, both as deputy
in the French Constituent Assembly and mayor of Fort-de-France, Martinique.
Csaires poem Notebook of a Return to My Native Land (Cahier dun retour au pays
natal, 1939) constitutes the superlative poetic critique of Western imperialism.
Combining elements of surrealism and the influence of radical French poets such
as Rimbaud, Lautramont, and Mallarm with a violent condemnation of the alienation of the colonized in French-controlled Martinique, Csaires modernist poem
served as a primary element in the drive to overthrow French colonialism by the
1960s. Following discussions with fellow colonial students in Paris in the 1930s,
Csaires Cahier also invented the term negritude, thus launching the movement
that would spearhead the drive to decolonization on the cultural plane.
After 1945, Csaire continued to publish his own distinctive form of
surrealist-inspired poetry in volumes such as Les armes miraculeuses (1946) and
Soleil cou coup (1948), while his polemical text Discourse on Colonialism (1956)
condemned the process of colonialism in the harshest terms, explicitly linking
Western imperialism with the Nazi genocide. In the 1950s, Csaire increasingly
and explicitly strove to make his writing accessible to a wider public. While his
poetry thus came to address the political problems of imperialism and decolonization (Ferrements, 1960), Csaire simultaneously turned to theater as a vehicle to
achieve a broader impact for his writing. The Tragedy of King Christopher (1963)
described the attempt of Henri Christophe to lead Haiti from its independence
from France in 1804 to full autonomy by totalitarian means. The play thus served,
in its contemporary context, as an allegorical and prescient warning for newly
independent African states tempted by authoritarian rule. A Season in the Congo
(1966) confirmed this orientation in its explicit critique of the assassination of
Patrice Lumumba. Csaires historical study Toussaint Louverture (1959) traced the
history of the Haitian Revolution (17911804), underlining its implications as the
founding historical act of the decolonization movement. Csaires work is marked
by a fundamental and critical sense of the ambiguity of history and human action,
an ambiguity that extends into his political legacy. Though he participated actively
in the critique of imperialism, Csaire simultaneously oversaw the integration of
Martinique, Guadeloupe, French Guyana into the French state as overseas departments, in effect intensifying their dependency on the French metropolis. Nonetheless, in contrast to Frantz Fanons defense of anticolonial violence, Csaires
refusal to support unequivocally the goal of a free society achieved by any means
available gives his texts a critical valence that allows them to speak beyond the
mere historical moment of decolonization to illuminate the fundamental and
enduring search for human freedom.
Nick Nesbitt

C h i n e s e L i t e r at u r e

Further Reading
Arnold, A. James. Modernism and Negritude. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1981.
Csaire, Aim. Discourse on Colonialism. Trans. Joan Pinkham. New York: Monthly Review
P, 1972.
Depestre, Ren. Bonjour et adieu la Ngritude. Paris: Seghers, 1980.
Irele, Abiola, ed. Aim Csaire: Cahier dun retour au pays natal. Ibadan, Nigeria: New Horn
Press Limited, 1994.

C h i n e s e L i t e r at u r e
The Chinese concept of literature (wenxue) traditionally included ancient works
of philosophy, history, and divination, as well as poetry, prose, and fiction. The
tradition of Chinese literature is, accordingly, particularly long and rich. Ancient
traditions have continued their influence into the modern era, though by the May
Fourth Movement (1919), a call had gone out among intellectuals to create a new
style of poetry in the vernacular to address a different era, and a few poets, such
as Wen Yiduo (18991946), were able to distinguish themselves in the new freer
forms. Notable progressive literati such as Chen Sanli (18521937) and the essayist and short-story writer Lu Xun (18811936), often referred to as the Father of
Modern Chinese Literature, continued to compose poetry in the old forms.
Prose writing in the classical language was greatly influenced by the style of
philosophers such as Confucius (ca. 551479 b.c.e.). Many writers of the 20th
century responded to the call put forth by Chen Duxiu (18791942) and Hu Shi
(18911962) in the journal The New Youth circa 19181919 for a new literature
written in the vernacular, aiming at social and political abuses to awaken the nation
in the face of warlord, gentry, and compradore misrule as well as the continuing
Western and Japanese imperialist incursions in China. Lu Xun was the most prominent writer to respond with a series of short stories and the satiric novella The True
Story of Ah Q.
During the nationalist decade (19271937), censorship was increasingly tightened, and after the victory of the Communists in the civil war in 1949, literary
control became institutionalized. Still, some limited dissent was possible (Liu Binyan, 19252005); Wang Meng, 1934 ). Socialist realism was promoted in the
early 1950s: already prominent woman writer Ding Ling (19041986) won the
Stalin Prize in 1951 but was later officially criticized. Revolutionary romanticism
came to the fore during the Cultural Revolution (19661976) with the novelist Hao Ran (19322008), a time that was also demarcated by the revolutionary
model operas, extolling heroism (often by women or volunteeristic male leaders),
anti-imperialism, and class consciousness. These were usually set prior to the
Communist era, during the civil war against the nationalists (19271949) or the
War to Resist Japan (19371945).
After the death of Chairman Mao Zedong, and the fall from power of the Gang
of Four and Hua Guofeng, a group of stories criticizing the excesses of the Cultural Revolution appeared in 1978, later referred to collectively as the literature of



C h i n e s e L i t e r at u r e

the wounded or scar literature. Women writers such as Zhang Jie (1937 ) and
Wang Anyi (1954 ) began to revive feminist issues. By the early 1980s, Western
literature was again being translated in quantity; magical realism and postmodernism made a notable impact (Yu Hua, 1960 ; Can Xue, 1953 ). The 1980s
became a decade of experimentation: the Misty poets (Bei Dao, 1949 ; Mang
Ke, 1951 ; Shu Ting, 1952 ; Gu Cheng, 19561993; Yang Lian, 1955 ; Duo
Duo, 1951 ) with their obscure references defied the censors and riled the critics;
the theater of the absurd made its debut with Gao Xingjian (1940 ); a search for
Chinese roots (xungen) independent of the Communist metanarrative of the revolution, or at least the calling for a reexamination of the history of the revolution
(Mo Yan, 1956 ; Su Tong, 1963 ; Ah Cheng, 1949 ; Han Shaogong, 1953 ; Jia
Pingwa, 1953 ); and the so-called cultural fervor, which was sparked by popular
journals for intellectuals, such as Reading.
With the suppression of the prodemocracy demonstrations in Tiananmen
Square in June 1989, a genre sometimes referred to as hooligan literature by
Wang Shuo (1958 ), which also had its beginnings in the 1980s, took on greater
prominence. It gives a cynical, alternately bleak and humored depiction of jaded,
alienated characters inhabiting a crass society, whose values they deride, constantly
in search of a quick fix. The racy novel Shanghai Baby (1999) by Wei Hui, a young
woman writer, features debauched urban youth broaching topics like interracial
sex and sadomasochism. The cynicism of these works offers a marked contrast
to the enthusiasm for all things cultural of the 1980s and may be symbolic of
resistance toward the post-1989 order, which combined political repression with
crass materialism, the disassembly of state-owned enterprises, and greater disparities between wealth and poverty, urban seaboard and rural hinterland, against the
backdrop of hegemonic global forces.
In 2000, Gao Xingjian became the first Chinese writer to win the Nobel Prize in
Literature, though he had by that time been living and working in France for more
than a decade. Mo Yan won the Nobel Prize in 2012, triggering some controversy
due to his support for the Chinese Communist government.
Jon Eugene von Kowallis
Further Reading
Gibbs, Donald A. A Bibliography of Studies and Translations of Modern Chinese Literature,
19181942. Cambridge, MA: East Asian Research Center, Harvard University, 1975.
Hsia, C. T. A History of Modern Chinese Fiction. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 1961.
Kowallis, Jon Eugene von. The Lyrical Lu Xun: A Study of His Classical Style Verse. Honolulu:
U of Hawaii P, 1996.
Kowallis, Jon Eugene von. The Subtle Revolution: Poets of the Old Schools in Late-Qing and
Early Republican China. Berkeley: Institute of East Asian Studies, University of California, 2004.
Lee, Leo Ou-fan. The Romantic Generation of Modern Chinese Writers. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1973.
Liu, James J. Y. Chinese Theories of Literature. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1975.

C o l d Wa r

Liu, Wu-chi. An Introduction to Chinese Literature. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1966.

Liu, Wu-chi, and Irving Lo, eds. Sunflower Splendor: Three Thousand Years of Chinese Poetry.
Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1975.
Lynn, Richard John. Chinese Literature: A Draft Bibliography in Western European Languages.
Canberra: Australian National UP, 1979.
McDougall, Bonnie S., and Kam Louie. The Literature of China in the Twentieth Century. New
York: Columbia UP, 1997.
Nienhauser, William H. The Indiana Companion to Traditional Chinese Literature. 2 vols.
Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1986.
Wang, David Der-wei. Fin-de-Sicle Splendor: Repressed Modernities of Late Qing Fiction,
18491911. Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1997.
Watson, Burton. Early Chinese Literature. New York: Columbia UP, 1962.

C o l d Wa r
After World War II the United States and the Soviet Union squared off in a struggle for world dominance that would continue until the latters collapse in 1991.
This struggle was called the Cold War because the two main combatantsChina
emerged as a third force with the Communist takeover in 1949engaged each other
through ideology, diplomacy, and covert operations rather than through actual military conflict. This was undoubtedly a good thing given the nuclear weapons that
both sides possessed, which they came closest to deploying against each other during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. Yet the name Cold War must have seemed like a
bitter misnomer to those involved in the protracted, bloody struggles that the major
powers fought or financed in such places as Korea, Vietnam, Angola, and Afghanistan. The hot warfare waged in these and other countries serves as a reminder that
the Cold War unfolded amid the collapse of the Western European empires and was
a struggle over which systemcapitalism or Communismwould succeed these
empires by guiding the process of modernization in the developing world. But the
struggle for hearts and minds (in Lyndon Johnsons phrase) was not restricted to
the so-called third world. Some of the most important effects of the Cold War were
felt within the United States and the Soviet Union themselves, as both combatants
sought to create support for their positions among their own citizens.
Much of the important work on the relationship between the Cold War and
literature has focused on the effects of such domestic indoctrination in the United
States during the crucial decade of the 1950s. This was, of course, the high point
of U.S. anti-Communism as expressed in such phenomena as the HUAC trials, the
Rosenberg executions, and McCarthyism, which set a standard for political witch
hunting and the infringement of civil liberties that had not been equaled until the
USA PATRIOT Act era. But anti-Communist ideology also found a covert (and
for that reason so much the more effective) home in literature and literary criticism, where its presence illustrates the proposition that the denial of politics (in
critical approaches such as the New Criticism) is itself a form of politics. Intellectuals dedicated themselves to asserting arts necessary commitment to the individual rather than the group, the psychological rather than the political, the broadly
human rather than the historically contingent. Such assertionsmade in the name



C o l d Wa r

of artistic discriminations but in fact congruent with developments in film and

mass mediahad the effect of denigrating the left-leaning art of the 1930s. Thus
Ralph Ellisons supposedly more universal account of African American alienation in Invisible Man (1952) was understood (by Ellison as well as by others) as
an advance over Richard Wrights supposedly dogmatic (and not coincidentally
Communist-sympathetic) portrayal of Bigger Thomas in Native Son (1940). The
Cold War continues to shape American literature, for instance in the concern
with privacy central to postconfessional poetry.
Evidence that the CIA did in fact support Cold War intellectual projects like the
London-based journal Encounter suggests that the Cold War understanding of literature also served a purpose abroad. Partisans of U.S. culture promoted American literature and other art forms such as abstract expressionist painting and jazz as salutary
alternatives to the stifling orthodoxy associated with Soviet culture and its official
aesthetic doctrine of Socialist realism. In fact the Soviet stateespecially under Stalin and his culture czar A. A. Zhdanovdid exert far greater direct influence over literary production than the U.S. government did, although this should not blind us to
the fact that American aesthetics themselves constituted a different sort of orthodoxy.
Throughout the Soviet period, Russian literature (including the work of dissidents
like Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn) remained committed to the idea, anathema to American Cold War aesthetics, that literature not only could but indeed must be political.
Outside the United States and the Soviet Union, the national literature most
shaped by the Cold War was probably that of Germany, which was of course two
countries prior to reunification, and whose literature continues to wrestle with the
questions raised by its Cold War division into East and West. Elsewhere the postwar
French novel was shaped by the discourse of capitalist modernization by means of
which the country navigated its declining imperial power and its new subordination
to U.S. interests. A similar situation in the United Kingdom, meanwhile, contributed
to the flourishing of the most important popular genre of the Cold War era, the spy
thriller as practiced by Graham Greene, Ian Fleming, and John le Carr.
Postcolonial literature also dealt with the Cold War as it impinged materially
and ideologically on national liberation struggles. One of the great ironies of this
period, however, is the way in which the Cold War also provided a conduit for
events in the third world to influence the struggles of subordinated groups within
the United States. Insofar as the United States sought to position itself as the superior model for third-world nations struggling to free themselves from European
domination, it participated in a discourse of rebellion that would return to trouble
Cold War imperatives in the era of Black Power and Vietnam.
Andrew Hoberek

Further Reading
Brennan, Timothy. The Cuts of Language: The East/West of North/South. Public Culture
13.1 (Winter 2001): 3963.
Clark, Katerina. The Soviet Novel: History as Ritual. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1985.

C o ll i n s , S u z a n n e

Hoberek, Andrew. Cold War Culture to Fifties Culture. Minnesota Review 5557 (2002):
Hobsbawm, Eric. The Age of Extremes: A History of the World, 19141991. New York: Pantheon, 1994.
Medovoi, Leerom. Cold War American Culture as the Age of Three Worlds. Minnesota
Review 5557 (2002): 16786.
Nelson, Deborah. Pursuing Privacy in Cold War America. New York: Columbia UP, 2002.
Ross, Kristin. Fast Cars, Clean Bodies: Decolonization and the Reordering of French Culture.
Cambridge, MA: MIT P, 1995.
Saunders, Frances Stonor. The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters.
New York: New P, 1999.
Schaub, Thomas Hill. American Fiction in the Cold War. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1991.

C o ll i n s , S u z a n n e ( 1 9 6 2 )
Suzanne Marie Collins became one of the most popular and visible of American
authors, due largely to the success of her Hunger Games series of young adult
novels, which have provided one of the central examples of the rise to prominence
of dystopian literature as a key genre for young adult readers. Before the great
success of the Hunger Games novels, Collins had written for childrens television
(including several programs on the Nickelodeon cable network), and had then
gained both critical and commercial success with a series of five fantasy novels for
younger readers known collectively as the Underland Chronicles. This series comprises Gregor the Overlander (2003), Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane (2004), Gregor
and the Curse of the Warmbloods (2005), Gregor and the Marks of Secret (2006), and
Gregor and the Code of Claw (2007). In this series (inspired by Alice in Wonderland),
the Gregor of the title is a young boy who encounters numerous adventures in a
fantasy world that lies underneath New York City, inhabited by various fantastic
creatures. It also addresses a number of political issues (largely related to war and
violence, including surveillance and military intelligence, genocide, and biological
warfare) in a manner accessible to upper elementary and middle school readers.
With the publication of The Hunger Games in 2008, Collins moved into a new
realm of popularity, creating a postapocalyptic dystopian world that young adult
readers (and many older readers) seem to have found particularly compelling. The
novel was quickly extended into a trilogy with the publication of Catching Fire
(2009) and Mockingjay (2010), which were also highly successful. In this series,
the United States has collapsed due to a series of vaguely described disasters. What
remains is the nation of Panem, which consists of a central Capitol that dominates 12 surrounding districts, each of which specializes in a specific kind of
industry. The Capitol, characterized as a realm of extreme decadence and self-indulgent luxury, exerts its rule over the surrounding districts via a combination of
brutal violence and control of the media. For example, in order to emphasize its
dominance, the Capitol sponsors the annual Hunger Games of the title, which
serves as a demonstration of the Capitols power and as a reminder of the disastrous failure of an earlier rebellion against the Capitol. This event requires each
of the districts to send two teenagers (one boy and one girl, chosen by lot) as



C u b a n L i t e r at u r e

Tributes to participate in an elaborate media spectacle in which the 24 participants battle to the death on live television, until only one survives. The protagonist
of the series is young Katniss Everdeen, who becomes one of these tributes when
she volunteers to take the place of her younger sister, who had won the lottery
for selection from their district. Katniss subsequently becomes so successful in the
Games (and popular with audiences) that she threatens the very power that the
Games are meant to highlight, serving as first a symbolic and later a real leader of
a new rebellion against the Capitol, this one ultimately successful.
As of this writing, the first two volumes of the Hunger Games trilogy have been
adapted into highly successful Hollywood films, while production is underway to
adapt Mockingjay into two additional films, making the Hunger Games a major pop
cultural franchise.
M. Keith Booker
Further Reading
Dunn, George A., and Nicolas Michaud, eds. The Hunger Games and Philosophy: A Critique
of Pure Treason. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2012.
Garriott, Deidre Anne Evans, Whitney Elaine Jones, and Julie Elizabeth Tyler, eds. Space
and Place in The Hunger Games: New Readings of the Novels. Jefferson, NC: McFarland,
Henthorne, Tom. Approaching the Hunger Games Trilogy: A Literary and Cultural Analysis.
Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012.
Pharr, Mary F., and Leisa A. Clarke, eds. Of Bread, Blood, and the Hunger Games: Critical
Essays on the Suzanne Collins Trilogy. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2012.

C u b a n L i t e r at u r e
The development of Cuban literature can be divided into four periods: a background period from the origins to 1790; a second period during the formation and
crystallization of the national consciousness, 17901898; a third period between
1899 and 1958 divided into two stages, 18991923 and 19231958; and a fourth
period, from the 1959 revolution to the present.
The Cuban War of Independence from Spain took place between 1868 and 1898,
and the literature produced during this time reflected quite accurately the convulsions of the times. Lyrics drifted from romanticism to modernism, a movement pioneered by Jos Mart with Ismaelillo (1892), Versos sencillos (Simple verses, 1891), and
Versos libres (Free verses, written between 1878 and 1882 but not published until
1913). Mart is also one of the great figures in Cuban history, a leader of the fight
for independence and an iconic figure of that struggle. Another important figure in
the Latin American modernist movement was Julin del Casal, author of numerous
notable poemsthe collection Nieve (Snow, 1891) containing many of the finest.
Perhaps most important among the novelists to emerge during this period was
Ramn Meza, author of Mi to el empleado (My uncle the clerk, 1887), significant particularly for its abundance of futurism. Also important was Martn Mora

C u b a n L i t e r at u r e

Delgado, who, in novels such as Sofia (1891) and La familia Unzazu (The Unzazu
family, 1901), initiated the Cuban naturalist novel. Nonfiction prose was especially prominent during this period, including the genre of campaign literature,
devoted to the War of Independence. The modern genre of the testimonio also
became important during this period.
The comic opera also rose to prominence at the end of the 19th century, contributing to the expression of significant elements of Cuban cultural identity, especially
the crystallization of the types of the negrito, mulata, and gallego (small negro boy,
mulatto woman, and Galician), traditional characters of a popular theater whose
period of greatest splendor was reached during the initial decades of the republican period. The first stage of this period (18991923) began within a social framework in which a feeling of republican frustration prevailed due to the continuing
neocolonial domination of Cuba by the United States. Naturalism was a suitable
vehicle for the expression of this feeling in fiction, as can be seen in the works of
such writers as Carlos Loveira (Generales y Doctores [Generals and doctors, 1920]
and Juan Criollo [1927]); Miguel de Carrin (Las honradas [The honest ones, 1918]
and Las impuras [The impure ones, 1919]); and Jesus Castellanos (La conjura [The
conspiracy, 1909]). Alfonso Hernndez Cat produced a large body of works that
placed him among the greatest storytellers of his time in the Spanish language.
Important poets who emerged at this time included Regino Boti (Arabescos mentales [Mental arabesque, 1913], and El mar y la montaa [The sea and the mountain, 1921]) and Jos Manuel Poveda (Versos precursors [Precursor verses, 1917]).
Such poets, in what was perhaps an understandable reaction to the prevailing
social situation, opted for nonpolitical poetry of high aesthetic quality. Achievement in theater remained slight, although comic opera continued to satirize the
prevailing sociopolitical situation.
A decisive turn occurred during the second stage of this period (19231958),
when, due to the influence of significant historical developments such as World
War I and the Russian Revolution, Cuban political and literary life entered a
revolutionary stage. This stage produced a full identification between the political
and aesthetic avant-garde. The most significant political figures were also of significance in the literary field, including Rubn Martnez Villena, Juan Marinello,
Nicols Guilln, and Ral Roa. The search of the literary-political avant-garde
for a new expression of Cuban national identity led in 1923 to the formation of
the Grupo Minorista (Minority group), which used the magazine Revista de Avance
(19271930) as its main organ of expression until the repression of the dictatorial
government of Gerardo Machado caused the cessation of its publication as well as
the activities of the group.
Poets such as Guilln, Jos Lezama Lima, and Dulce Mara Loynaz produced
important work during this period, while significant writers of fiction included
Jorge Maach, Jos Zacaras Tallet, Enrique Serpa, Jos Antonio Fernndez de Castro, Alejo Carpentier, Enrique Labrador Ruiz, and Lino Novs Salvo. The latter
three in particular contributed to a renewal in Cuban narrative, incorporating the
influences of important American writers such as Ernest Hemingway, John Dos
Passos, William Faulkner, Taylor Caldwell, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.



C u b a n L i t e r at u r e

The 1959 revolution transformed Cuban literature as well as Cuban society. For
example, the national literacy campaign carried out in 1961 set the foundation
for the formation of a greatly enlarged reading audience, and to this campaign
were added numerous institutions that promoted the production and consumption of literature, including el Consejo Nacional de Cultura (the National Culture
Council, currently the Ministry of Culture), la Casa de las Amricas (the House of
the Americas), la Unin Nacional de Escritores de Cuba (the National Union of
Writers of Cuba), el Instituto del Libro (the Institute of the Book), and el Centro
Nacional de Derechos de Autor (the National Center for Copyright). In just over
four decades, these institutions have completely transformed the situation of writers, who for the most part previously had to finance the publication of their own
books. Furthermore, they have now ensured that thousands of copies and editions
will be printed for national and international promotion.
In these four decades, numerous writers have left an indelible imprint on Cuban
culture. In poetry, great authors such as Guilln, Lezama Lima, Regino Pedroso,
Manuel Navarro Luna, Mirta Aguirre, Samuel Feijo, Eliseo Diego, Cintio Vitier,
Fina Garcia Marrz, Jess Orta Ruiz, and Carilda Oliver Labra continued to produce new works that were now for the first time widely distributed both nationally
and internationally. They were joined by younger authors who became known
in the 1950s. This group consolidated their work in the 1960s to form the first
generation of poets of the revolution. Among these authors were Roberto Fernndez Retamar (also a remarkable essayist), Fayad Jamis, Pablo Armando Fernndez,
Heberto Padilla, Rolando Escard, and Jose A. Baragao.
In fiction, well-known authors such as Carpentier, Flix Pita Rodrguez, Onelio
Jorge Cardoso, Dora Alonso, and Virgilio Piera reached their full maturityas well as
international prominencein the decades after the revolution. The poet Lezama Lima
attained fame as a novelist with Paradiso (1966), while the notable poet and essayist
Vitier also became known as a novelist. Other writers of fiction who attained prominence included Guillermo Cabrera Infante, Jos Soler Puig, Severo Sarduy, Reinaldo
Arenas, Lisandro Otero, Miguel Barnet, Jess Daz, Manuel Cofio, Eduardo Heras,
Julio Travieso, Antonio Bentez, Leonardo Padura Fuentes, and Senel Paz, whose tale
El lobo, el bosque y el hombre nuevo (The wolf, the forest and the new man)internationally honored with the Juan Rulfo Awardserved as the basis for the successful
film by Toms Gutirrez Alea, Fresa y Chocolate (Strawberry and chocolate, 1993).
With the triumph of the revolution, Cuban theater reached new heights
of development. Theater halls multiplied, andin the case of the Escambray
theaterplays were staged in the mountains with the active participation of peasants. Previous works that had been banned or heavily censored were now widely
produced. The initial work of Piera, Rolando Ferrer, and Carlos Felipe was continued by playwrights such as Abelardo Estorino, perhaps the most remarkable
author to come out of this period, as well as Jos R. Brene, Hctor Quintero, Jos
Triana, Eugenio Hernndez Espinosa, Nicols Dorr, Abilio Estvez, Alberto Pedro,
and Freddy Artiles.
For the most part, the postrevolutionary period has been generous in producing essayists and literary critics that continue the Cuban tradition in such genres.

C u b a n L i t e r at u r e

Important among these are such figures as Vitier, Retamar, Marrz, Graziella Pogolotti, Angel Augier, Manuel Moreno Fraginals, Salvador Bueno, Ambrosio Fornet,
and Rine Leal. A number of other genres rose to new prominence in the postrevolutionary period, including literature for children and young readers (represented
in the works of Alonso, Nersys Felipe, and Julia Calzadilla); police literature (produced by Daniel Chavarra, a Uruguayan novelist living in Cuba; Luis Rogelio
Nogueras; and the aforementioned Padura); science fiction; and testimonial literature (whose highest expressions are due to Barnet, and where can be mentioned,
among others, Enrique Cirules and Victor Casaus). On the other hand, the fact
must be stressed that literary creation has ceased being a basically urban activity in
Cuba; it has become a national fact visible in each province of the country with a
wide variety of authors. Furthermore, the considerable female presence is quantitatively and qualitatively without precedent in Cuban history.
The literature produced throughout the postrevolutionary period in Cuba is
characterized by its ethics, its reaffirmation of the continuity with the central line
of national literature, its link with the cause of social progress, and its independence with regard to the cultural policies of the bygone Socialist countries, a fact
that prevented Socialist realism from becoming an important mode in Cuba. It is
important to point out that outside Cuba, important literature has been produced
by writers such as Cabrera Infante and Arenas, who have disavowed the revolution, but who were formed as artists in the bosom of the revolution. Such writers
are still regarded in Cuba as participants in Cuban literature, and numerous works
continue to be published by Cuban editorial houses by well-known national writers who emigrated from Cuba after 1959. On the other hand, the emergence of
new generations of authors of Cuban origin born outside the island who in many
cases do not express themselves in the Spanish language presents an interesting
complication to historians of the Cuban literary process.
Taking into consideration the relative youth of the Cuban literary process
really only 200 years, in spite of 500 years of national historyits great richness
and maturity are extremely impressive. Writers such as Mart, Carpentier, Guilln,
Lezama Lima, and Loynaz have earned important places in the history of world
literature, and Cuban literature as a wholenotwithstanding conditions especially
adverse for its developmentoccupies an important place in global culture.
Sergio Chaple and David H. Uzzell Jr.
Further Reading
Instituto de Literatura y Lingistica. Diccionario de la literatura cubana. Havana: Editorial
Letras Cubanas. Vol. 1, 1980. Vol. 2, 1984.
Lazo, Raimundo. La Literatura Cubana, esquema histrico (desde sus orgenes hasta 1966).
Havana: Editora Universitaria, 1967.
Portuondo, Jos Antonio. Bosquejo histrico de las letras cubanas. Havana: Editora del Ministerio de Educacin, 1962.


Da r o , R u b n ( 1 8 6 7 1 9 1 6 )
Rubn Daro was born in the village of Metapa (subsequently renamed Ciudad
Daro), Nicaragua, into a humble family. From his early youth, he showed a prodigious poetic talent and the determination to become a great poet. In his pursuit of this goal and given his weak financial situation, he confidently sought the
patronage of the politically powerful, first in El Salvador at age 15, then in Chile
and Argentina, his fame as a poet preceding him in all cases. In 1883, while in El
Salvador, he wrote two poems that were to extend his fame throughout Spanish
America: Al libertador Bolvar (To the liberator, Bolivar) and Unin Centroamericana (Central American union). In the first of these poems, he extols the decisive
anticolonialism of Simn Bolvar, and in the second, he champions the idea of
unifying the five Central American republics, a theme to which he often returned
in his writings.
Daro left Nicaragua for Chile in 1886. There he produced the bookAzul Blue,
1888that would bring him fame throughout the Hispanic world. A review of the
book by Spanish author and diplomat Juan Valera contributed substantially to that
fame. Valera facilitated the general viewing of Daros contribution of a new sensuousness, splendor, and opulence to Hispanic poetry, but in his jealous attribution
of this novelty primarily to French sources, he undervalued the eclectic basis of the
richness of Daros imagery and the range of his technical skills. Daro was a keen
observer of the strategies and effects of the Greco-Roman writers as well as of the
stalwarts in the Spanish tradition. He had also looked, not without some disdain,
at his Spanish American precursors.
The strangeness and arrogance of his renovating effort did not endear him to
the leading Spanish American literary critics of the 19th century. While Daro
called his writing modernism, they called it decadence, not detecting in it the
constructive Spanish American sentiment that had been obvious in the work of
his predecessors. Only in his 1898 essay on Daros second book of poetry, Prosas profanas (Profane prose, 1896), did the most prominent of these critics, Jos
Enrique Rod, declare: Yo soy un modernista tambin (I am a modernist too).
Rod noted the allegorical character of the exoticism present in Prosas profanas and
the Spanish American rootedness of Daros most esoteric work. In his subsequent
major books, Cantos de vida y esperanza (1905) and El canto errante (1907), Daro,
while always attentive to his lofty expressive goals, contributes poems of enduring
political content.


D ay L e w i s , C .

While many studies of Daros poetry have given inordinate weight to form, there
is a strong sociopolitical bent to his poetry. He was Nicaraguan when Nicaragua
was under threat from a colonial or imperialist power such as Great Britain; Central American in his zeal for the political unity of those republics; Spanish American when actions of North American imperialism aggressively wounded Spanish
American spirits; and universally humanist when human progress was hindered in
the last years of his life by a devastating war. When Daro wrote about democracy,
he clearly meant popular democracynot free market democracy. His political
relevance sparkled in the time of the Sandinista revolution in his homeland.
Keith Ellis
Further Reading
Ellis, Keith. Critical Approaches to Rubn Daro. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1974.
Jrade, Cathy Login. Rubn Daro and the Romantic Search for Unity: The Modernist Recourse to
Esoteric Tradition. Austin: U of Texas P, 1983.

Day L e w i s , C . ( 1 9 0 4 1 9 7 2 )
C. Day Lewis was born at Ballintubber, Queens County, Ireland. In 1905, his father,
a Church of Ireland minister, moved the family to England, where his mother died
in 1908. Day Lewis published his first collection of poetry, Beechen Vigil, in 1925.
His early poetry was very much indebted to the pastoral tradition and reflected a
personal individual experience. He went to Oxford, where he met Rex Warner and
Maurice Bowra. While at Oxford (sometime in 19261927), Day Lewis also met
W. H. Auden, with whom he edited Oxford Poetry, 1927. Transitional Poem (1929)
was Day Lewiss first attempt to leave behind his early style, which he characterized
as adolescent, and reflect a more mature, socially aware, outward-looking poetry.
He left Oxford in 1927 with a degree in classics and taught school until 1935. Day
Lewis joined the Communist Party of Great Britain in 1936, leaving the party in
1938. While in the party, he drew on his teaching experience to bridge Communist ideology and culture, explaining the ideas behind Communism in essays like
Letter to a Young Revolutionary, published in New Country (1933), and A Hope
for Poetry (1934). Day Lewis also edited The Mind in Chains (1937), a collection
of essays that examined the links between Socialism and culture, which included
contributions from Warner and Edward Upward, among others. His autobiography, The Buried Day (1960), charts his gradual acceptance (and eventual rejection)
of Communism. He published four collections of poetry in the 1930s: From Feathers to Iron (1931), The Magnetic Mountain (1933), A Time to Dance (1935), and
Overtures to Death (1938), as well as a verse play, Noah and the Waters (1936). Day
Lewis also published three novels in the 1930s: The Friendly Tree (1936), Starting
Point (1937), and Child of Misfortune (1939). During World War II, he worked for
the Ministry of Information. Under the pseudonym Nicholas Blake, Day Lewis
published a series of detective novels beginning with A Question of Proof (1936). He

D e B o i s s i r e , R a lp h

also translated the works of VirgilThe Georgics of Virgil (1940) and The Aeneid of
Virgil (1952)and was professor of poetry at Oxford between 1951 and 1956. In
his later life, he moved away from his more radical past, increasingly becoming an
establishment figure, and was named poet laureate in 1967, a post he held until his
death. The Whispering Roots (1970) was his final collection of poetry. Throughout
his career, his work reflected a constant struggle between his public and private
selves, a divided self. His early work envisioned that struggle as a conflict on the
public stage, a struggle between the new and the old, but his later work turned
inward, concentrating on the poets personal world.
Steve Cloutier
Further Reading
Day Lewis, Sean. C. Day Lewis: An English Literary Life. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson,
Dyment, Clifford. C. Day Lewis. London: Longmans, Green, 1955.
Gelpi, Albert. Living in Time: The Poetry of C. Day Lewis. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.
Riddel, Joseph N. C. Day Lewis. New York: Twayne, 1971.

D e B o i s s i r e , Ralp h ( 1 9 0 7 2 0 0 8 )
Born in Trinidad, de Boissire began his career as a key participant, along
with C. L. R. James and Alfred Mendes, in the so-called Trinidad Renaissance,
involving the collective efforts of the group of leftist Trinidadian intellectuals associated with the Beacon journal, which was published in 28 issues in Port of Spain
from March 1931 to November 1933. De Boissire published stories in Beacon,
but devoted much of his time and energy to the mundane task of trying to make a
living. Between 1935 and 1938, he struggled to write his first novel, focusing on
the decadence of the middle class in colonial Trinidad. By that time, Depression-era
labor unrest in Trinidad had led to the 1937 oilfield uprising and subsequent police
riots, and de Boissire realized that the novel he had been writing was no longer
adequate to the historical situation in Trinidad. In particular, he shifted the focus
of his writing from a critique of the middle class to a positive depiction of the revolutionary potential of the working class. The development of de Boissires writing
career, like the development of Caribbean literature as a whole, was then derailed
by World War II, which led the British to institute strict suppression of the publication of any anticolonial materials in their empire. Meanwhile, the colonial society
of Trinidad experienced strong upheavals, as the island was essentially occupied by
American forces (at the request of the British) for the duration of the war.
After the war, de Boissire traveled to Chicago to study auto mechanics. In 1948,
he immigrated to Australia and got work in a General Motors plant in Melbourne.
This proletarian experience was crucial to his subsequent growth as a writer and
to his ability to rewrite his original novel as Crown Jewel, a work that not only
includes but in fact focuses on the Trinidadian labor unrest of 1937, during which
it is set. That novel was eventually published in 1952, with the support of a radical



D e l a n y, S a m u e l R .

Australian labor union. It was followed in 1956 by a sequel, Rum and Coca-Cola,
which takes the story forward into World War II and the American occupation. A
third novel, No Saddles for Kangaroos (1964), is based on de Boissires Australian
experience, focusing on the repressive practices of the Menzies regime of the 1950s,
which roughly corresponded to the American phenomenon of McCarthyism. All of
de Boissires novels show a strongly leftist sympathy for the working class and for
the attempts of workers to organize to resist oppression by their capitalist bosses.
Written in a straightforward, highly accessible style, the books feature realistic characters who are highly individuated but nevertheless typical in the sense of the
Marxist critic Georg Lukcsthat is, they clearly derive their individual characteristics from their specific social and historical situations. Meanwhile, the plots move
forward in a way that suggests the inexorable forward movement of history toward
liberation for the working classes and the eventual achievement of Socialism.
M. Keith Booker
Further Reading
Gardiner, Allan. Striking Images: Ralph De Boissires Australian Socialist Realism.
Rereading Global Socialist Cultures after the Cold War. Ed. Dubravka Juraga and M. Keith
Booker. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2002.
Ramchand, Kenneth. An Interview with Ralph de Boissire: Back to Kangaroos. CRNLE
Reviews Journal 1 (1994): 732.
Sander, Reinhard W. The Trinidad Awakening: West Indian Literature of the Nineteen-Thirties.
Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1988.
Sealy, Clifford. Crown Jewel: A Note on Ralph De Boissire. Voices 2.3 (March 1973): 13.

D e la n y, Sa m u e l R . ( 1 9 4 2 )
A 2002 inductee into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Delany has published more
than 30 books of science fiction (SF) and fantasy, scholarly criticism, and erotica. He is the first African American science-fiction writer to win multiple Hugo
and Nebula awards, the genres highest honors, and he also won the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement in Lesbian and Gay Writing. As Jeffrey Allen
Tucker says, Delany has been a trailblazer for black SF writers who have followed,
such as Octavia E. Butler, Steven Barnes, and Nalo Hopkinson. Delanys work has
engaged with the most vital social and political issues of his times: race and racism
in America, gay liberation, feminism, the AIDS crisis and more (1), furthermore
influencing a range of writers and thinkers such as Fredric Jameson, Eve Kosofsky
Sedgwick, Umberto Eco, Donna Haraway, Henry Louis Gates, Charles Johnson,
William Gibson, and Thomas Pynchon.
Born in Harlem, New York, into a middle-class family, Delany attended a private
school, just off Park Avenue, with very different demographics than his Harlem
neighborhood. The schools students were mostly white and mostly wealthy, and
Delanys experience of negotiating the very different worlds of Harlem and the
school would inform all of his subsequent work. Delany, a self-proclaimed Marxist,

D i c k , P h i l i p K .

is intensely aware of social, economic, and ethnic differences; he argues that all
art is political because art is an expression of the very political practice of asking
questions about the world (quoted in Tucker 29).
Delany began his career as a writer of SF with The Jewels of Aptor (1962), set on a
post-holocaust earth. By the publication of Babel-17 (1966), which won the Nebula,
he had published several more novels and was beginning to make notable advances
in sophistication. That novel was quickly followed by such works as The Einstein Intersection (1967) and Nova (1968), then eventually by Dhalgren (1975), Triton (1976),
and Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand (1984)works that took Delanys writing
(and the genre of SF) to an entirely new level of literary and conceptual sophistication.
Carl Freedman, for example, calls Stars in My Pocket the most intellectually ambitious
work in the entire range of modern science fiction (147). Meanwhile, Delanys series
of Nevron novels brought new sophistication to the fantasy novel in the 1980s. His
stories are collected in the volume Aye, and Gomorrah: Stories (2003).
Delany is particularly concerned with the concept of difference, in both the poststructuralist, linguistic sense and a more politically engaged social sense. Typically
regarded by critics as a practitioner of postmodernismparticularly in his desire to
decenter or displace racial, gender, and sexual norms, and his engaging of poststructuralist theoryDelany is arguably a writer just asif not morefirmly rooted in literary modernism, making the cognitive estrangement that is typical of the best SF not
only a part of the content of his books but a part of the experience of reading as well.
Sandy Rankin
Further Reading
Delany, Samuel R. Jewel-Hinged Jaw: Notes on the Language of Science Fiction. New York:
Berkley, 1977.
Delany, Samuel R. The Motion of Light in Water. 1988. New York: Kasak, 1993.
Delany, Samuel R. Racism and Science Fiction. Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora. Ed. Sheree R. Thomas. New York: Warner Books, 2000.
Delany, Samuel R. Silent Interviews: On Language, Race, Sex, Science Fiction, and Some Comics.
Hanover, NH: Wesleyan UP, 1994.
Delany, Samuel R. Starboard Wine: More Notes on the Language of Science Fiction. Pleasantville, NY: Dragon P, 1984.
Delany, Samuel R. Times Square Red, Times Square Blue. New York: New York UP, 1999.
Freedman, Carl. Critical Theory and Science Fiction. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan UP, 2000.
Sallis, James, ed. Ash of Stars: On the Writing of Samuel R. Delany. Jackson: U of Mississippi
P, 1996.
Tucker, Jeffrey Allen. A Sense of Wonder: Samuel R. Delany, Race, Identity, and Difference.
Hanover, NH: Wesleyan UP, 2004.

Dick, Philip K. (19281982)

Philip K. Dick was an American novelist and short-story writer. A Chicago native,
he spent most of his life in California, where much of his fiction is set. He was



Dick, Philip K.

married five times and had three children but was unmarried at his death. He produced over 40 novels and many dozens of stories; the great majority of his work,
and practically all his best work, is science fiction.
Though Dick was only modestly successful during his lifetime, since his death,
his reputation has skyrocketed. Many of his books, previously available only as
cheap mass-market paperbacks, have been reprinted in a handsome uniform edition, and a number of his novels and stories have been made into films. He has
been the subject of many books and articles, both popular and scholarly, and is
frequently taught in college literature courses. The eminent Marxist critic Fredric
Jameson, in an obituary, hailed Dick as the Shakespeare of science fiction. Beyond
science fiction, an increasing number of critics rank Dick as one of the most important and original American novelists during the second half of the 20th century.
Dick is often described as an ontological writerthat is, one concerned with
fundamental questions of being. One typical theme expressing this element of his
work is the difficulty of determining whether a given set of circumstances represents
objective reality or some sort of hallucination or some even more complex possibility; another is the difficulty of distinguishing between human beings and simulacra of them. But Dick nearly always interweaves such philosophical concerns with a
darkly humorous and radically left-wing critique of American society. Unlike much
science fiction, Dicks work is normally set on earth and in the near future; he stays
close to home also in that he uses his wildest imaginings to estrange and criticize
such mundane social realities as the increasing commercialization of life and the
increasing power of governmental despotism. His protagonists tend to be decent,
ordinary working people attempting to grapple with forces nearly always beyond
their control and frequently beyond even their understanding.
As with any prolific and frequently discussed writer, Dicks readers do not always
agree on which of his many works represent him at his best. Still, most of Dicks
admirerswhether among professional critics or general readerswould probably say that any list of his finest novels should include the following: The Man in the
High Castle (1962), probably his most famous work, an alternative-history novel
in which the Axis has won the Second World War and divided the United States
into German and Japanese sectors; Martian Time-Slip (1964), his finest novel with
an extraterrestrial setting, in which the red planet provides the locale not for bugeyed monsters but for schizophrenia, racism, commercial speculation, and political corruption; Dr. Bloodmoney (1965), an elaborately plotted work that ranks as
the best novel yet written about life after nuclear holocaust; Do Androids Dream of
Electric Sheep? (1968), probably Dicks most sustained meditation on the nature of
humanity, known to many through Ridley Scotts film Blade Runner (1982), which
is loosely based on Dicks novel; Ubik (1969), which many consider his single most
brilliant performance, a hilarious and terrifying work in which the theme of multiple realities is handled with extraordinary elegance; and A Scanner Darkly (1977),
Dicks longest novel and his own personal favorite, which offers a science-fictionalized version of the hippie drug culture of the 1960s.
Carl Freedman

D o c t o r o w, C o r y

Further Reading
Mullen, R. D., et al., eds. On Philip K. Dick. Terre Haute, IN: SF-TH, 1992.
Robinson, Kim Stanley. The Novels of Philip K. Dick. Ann Arbor: UMI Research P, 1984.
Sutin, Lawrence. Divine Invasions: A Life of Philip K. Dick. New York: Harmony Books, 1989.
Williams, Paul. Only Apparently Real: The World of Philip K. Dick. New York: Arbor House,

D o c t o r o w, C o r y ( 1 9 7 1 )
Born in Toronto, Cory Doctorow became a British citizen in 2011, though he has
lived and worked extensively in both Canada and Great Britain. Since the publication of his first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, in 2003, he has become
prominent not only as a writer of science fiction, but as a teacher, lecturer, and
activist for digital rights in the new online information age. That novel involves
the digitization of human identities so that existing minds can be uploaded into
new, cloned bodies, thus achieving a form of immortality. It thus already suggests
a special interest in digital life that has centrally informed Doctorows subsequent
career. It was also published under a Creative Commons license that allowed free
circulation of the electronic version of the book, as long as that circulation was not
used to make money or to generate derivative works. His subsequent novels have
also been published under such arrangements, thus enacting the suspicion against
corporate or government control of information that is also central to the content
of many of the novels.
Doctorows work as an activist has involved battles against corporate control of
the Internet and other digital domains. Doctorow has also shown a strong awareness that those whose lives are most lived in the digital world are often young, publishing much of his work for young adult readers. His dystopian novel Little Brother
(2008) is set in a near-future dystopian United States in which excessive zeal in
the application of the PATRIOT Act has led to widespread repression. (The title is
an open allusion to the Big Brother of George Orwells Nineteen Eighty-Four.)
Here, a group of young hackers are the only ones with sufficient online savvy to be
able to defeat the excesses of Homeland Security, suggesting the potential of digital
resistance to oppression. The novel was nominated for a Hugo Award and won the
John W. Campbell Memorial Award, establishing Doctorow as a major force among
contemporary science-fiction writers. It also became a top seller among the years
science-fiction novels, despite being available free in electronic form.
A Place So Foreign and Eight More (2004) is a collection of Doctorows short stories.
His novel Makers (2009) focuses on what has essentially been popularly known as
hacker culture, which Doctorow refigures as maker culture to emphasize the
creative aspects of the work of individuals who find inventive ways to make a living
from the digital world in an era of economic decline. It was followed by another
young adult novel, For the Win (2010), which focuses on the world of massively
multiplayer online gaming, here figured as a key element of global political activity.
Doctorow has remained prolific in recent years, intent on demonstrating that
his writing can still be profitable for himself and for publishers, even when the



D o c t o r o w, E . L .

electronic versions of his works are available without charge. With a Little Help
(2010) is another collection of short stories. The Rapture of the Nerds (2012), a
novel cowritten with Scottish author Charles Stross, deals with the notion of technological singularity (via runaway artificial intelligence), in an essentially comic
mode that suggests the folly of attempts to control technological progress. Doctorows novel Pirate Cinema (2012) projects a corporate-dominated dystopian
future Britain in which strict copyright laws have gotten out of control. Doctorow
returned to the world of Little Brother with a sequel, Homeland (2013), again focusing on the ways in which claims of a need for protection against terrorism have
enabled repressive security measures that are essentially a form of state-sponsored
terrorism in their own right.
M. Keith Booker
Further Reading
Dudek, Debra. Return of the Hacker as Hero: Fictions and Realities of Teenage Technological Experts. Childrens Literature in Education: An International Quarterly 42.3
(September 2011): 184195.
Fletcher, Robert P. The Hacker and the Hawker: Networked Identity in the Science Fiction
and Blogging of Cory Doctorow. Science Fiction Studies 37.1 (2010): 8199.
Stewart, Susan L. 1983: Cory Doctorows Little Brother. Critical Insights: Dystopia. Ed. M.
Keith Booker. Ipswich, MA: Salem, 2013. 24156.

D o c t o r o w, E . L . ( 1 9 3 1 )
Resistant to political labeling, the author of Billy Bathgate (1989) is generally associated
with the Left. Indeed, according to Fredric Jameson, he is one of the few serious and
innovative leftist novelists at work in the United States today (21). Conservative critics have shown an appreciation for Doctorows style but balk at his message, as when
Hilton Kramer complains that Doctorows Ragtime is a novel in which bourgeois
America is consigned to eternal damnation, and those critical of America are elevated to sainthood (79). Doctorows novels and short stories examine social injustice
in the United States, especially in regard to class and to a lesser extent gender and race.
If Doctorow ultimately finds the source of injustice in the operation of capital,
he fails to offer any remedial social program. His work is more concerned with how
the citizen reader identifies herself (or not) within the historical moment and with
the radical alienation, under capitalism, of the individual human life from the destiny of the social being. Doctorow claims the novel should be about understanding
power and its relation to history. He has illustrated this concept throughout his
fiction, sometimes quite explicitly, as in the historical novel The March (2005), set
in the American Civil War.
In 2009, Doctorow published Homer & Langley, a novel based on the lives of
the notorious Collyer Brothers of New York City. Famed for their various eccentricities, especially their hoarder-like accumulation of various artifacts (such as
newspapers, books, musical instruments, and other items), the Collyers serve as a

D o s Pa s s o s , J o h n

sort of embodiment of Marxs notion of the commodity fetish and thus allegorize
important aspects of early consumer capitalism.
Though achieving commercial and critical success with his first novel Welcome to
Hard Times (1960), his third and fourth novels, The Book of Daniel (1971) and Ragtime (1974), are often cited as his best sustained work. Daniels story is loosely drawn
from the lives of the executed Cold War-espionage conspirators Julius and Ethel
Rosenberg and their children, including the title character, who attempts to reconstruct his familys past (a metafictive act that ends up producing the novel itself, in
order to establish historical ground for his life. Though the novel looks skeptically at
both the dogmatic Old Left and uncompromising ideologues of the 1960s New Left,
the basic social critique of those movements is treated without irony.
Ragtime (1974), set in early-20th-century New York, is Doctorows most contentious novel. It continues to develop one of his common themes, that of the
corruption of family and community relations in the United States. The fortunes of
three families of varying class and ethnicity are traced, each becoming intertwined
with the others in a web of coincidence. While Ragtime utilizes many historical
persons and events (J. P. Morgan, Henry Ford, Emma Goldman, the Lawrence textile strikes), the sometimes fictional fine details of these lives and eventsand the
magical realism of coincidencesuspend the reader somewhere between fiction
and history. Ragtime is best understood as a social novel that answers Doctorows
own charge that novelists are being forced, by television and social science, to write
only personal experience.
Critics have labeled Doctorows novels as examples of postmodernism for their
experimental form and unusual use of historical knowledge. Worlds Fair (1986) is
almost self-consciously autobiographical. Others, such as The Book of Daniel and
2000s City of God (Doctorows most thorough treatment of religion), use rapid
point-of-view shifts and metafiction to construct their histories, while Loon Lake
(1980) uses the technique of pastiche.
David Leaton
Further Reading
Doctorow, E. L. Reporting the Universe. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 2003.
Harter, Carol C., and James R. Thompson. E. L. Doctorow. Boston: Twayne, 1990.
Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism; or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham, NC:
Duke UP, 1991.
Kramer, Hilton. Political Romance. Commentary 80 (October 1975): 7680.
Tokarczyk, Michelle M. E. L. Doctorows Skeptical Commitment. New York: Peter Lang, 2000.
Trenner, Richard, ed. E. L. Doctorow: Essays and Conversations. Princeton, NJ: Ontario
Review P, 1983.

D o s Pa s s o s , J o h n ( 1 8 9 6 1 9 7 0 )
One of the most important and formally innovative radical novelists of the
1920s and 1930s, Dos Passos is best known for his monumental U.S.A. trilogy



D o s Pa s s o s , J o h n

(19301937) but over his lifetime authored over 40 novels, plays, travelogues,
and works of nonfiction, as well as scores of journalistic pieces. Dos Passos was
born out of wedlock to a Virginia blue blood, Lucy Addison Sprigg, and a wealthy
Portuguese immigrant lawyer, John Roderigo Dos Passos, who authored several
procapitalist books. Memories of the authors unhappy hotel childhood and
outsider status find their way into the Camera Eye sections of U.S.A. Dos Passos
attended the Choate School and then Harvard University. He saw the Great War
firsthand as a participant in the Norton-Harjes Ambulance Service in 19171918.
Ejected for disloyalty, he joined the army and was headed back to Europe when
the armistice was declared. Dos Passos remained in France through May Day
1919, served in a military hospital, went AWOL and was discharged, traveled
in Spain and the eastern Mediterranean, and settled in New York in the early
1920s. (Settled would never describe Dos Passos, however; all his life he was
a peripatetic traveler.) Rosinante to the Road Again (1922) reflected Dos Passoss
sympathies with Spanish anarchism. One Mans Initiation1917 (1920) and Three
Soldiers (1921) drew upon his wartime experiences, as would Nineteen-Nineteen,
the second volume of U.S.A.
Dos Passos was deeply involved in the cultural radicalism of the 1920s.
Ernest Hemingway, Edmund Wilson, Gerald and Sara Murphy, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and New Masses editor Mike Gold were good friends for some years.
Dos Passoss expressionist playsincluding The Garbage Man (1925) and Airways
Inc. (1928)and his 1925 collage-style novel, Manhattan Transfer, manifested
the influence of modernist experimentalism in combination with a growing critique of capitalist alienation and commodification of human relationships. The
campaign to save the Italian anarchists Sacco and Vanzetti from execution moved
Dos Passos to the Left, prompting him to interview the men on death row for his
pamphlet Facing the Chair (1927) and subsequently to compose U.S.A., consisting
of The Forty-Second Parallel (1930), Nineteen-Nineteen (1932), and The Big Money
Dos Passoss most serious engagement with leftist politics occurred in the early
1930s. Part of a writers delegation including Theodore Dreiser, Lester Cohen,
and Samuel Ornitz, he reported on conditions among striking miners in Harlan
County, Kentucky, in 1931. In 1932, he derided the Socialists as near beer, supported CPUSA presidential and vice presidential candidates William Z. Foster and
James W. Ford, and wrote in defense of the Scottsboro boys. In 1935, Dos Passos
gave a speech entitled The Writer as Technician at the founding convention of the
League of American Writers. By the mid-1930s, however, when the Popular Front
was drawing increasing numbers of writers toward the CPUSA, Dos Passos was
turning away from the Communist Left. His 1939 novel about the Spanish Civil
War, Adventures of a Young Man (1939), is a chronicle of disillusionment, ending in
its heros death through Communist betrayal.
Dos Passoss subsequent writings limn a dramatic move to the Far Right and, for
the most part, loss of literary power. The historical meditations in The Ground We
Stand On (1941) testified to Dos Passoss rediscovery of the legacy of the founding
fathers. The Grand Design (1949) attacked the New Deal. The autobiographical

D r . S e u s s

Chosen Country (1951) revisited the terrain of Dos Passoss childhood, this time
in a somewhat forced affirmation of Americanism. Most Likely to Succeed (1954),
a roman clef focusing on Dos Passoss former friend John Howard Lawson, lampooned Hollywood leftists. Midcentury (1961) bitterly chronicled the centurys
decline. Dos Passos became not just antileftist but antiliberal, supporting Joseph
McCarthy in the 1950s and Barry Goldwater in the 1960s.
Barbara Foley

Further Reading
Landsberg, Melvin. Dos Passos Path to U.S.A.: A Critical Biography, 19121936. Boulder, CO:
Associated UP, 1972.
Ludington, C. Townsend. John Dos Passos: A Twentieth-Century Odyssey. New York: E. P.
Dutton, 1980.
Rosen, Robert C. John Dos Passos: Politics and the Writer. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1981.
Smith, Jon. John Dos Passos, Anglo-Saxon. Modern Fiction Studies 44 (Summer 1998):

Dr. Seuss
Dr. Seuss was the pen name of American author/illustrator Theodor Seuss Geisel
(19041991). After graduating from Dartmouth and briefly pursuing graduate
study at Oxford University, Geisel began his career working as a cartoonist and as
an advertising illustrator. He published his first illustrated childrens book, And to
Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street, in 1937, by which time he was already using
the Dr. Seuss pseudonym for his published work. Several more books followed
prior to the entry of the United States into World War II, including Horton Hatches
the Egg (1940), the first of many of his more than 40 childrens books to become a
major classic of American childrens literature.
During the war, Geisels work became more openly political, much of it involving anti-Fascist political cartoons for the Left-leaning New York daily newspaper
PM. He would continue his Left-leaning politics throughout the remainder of his
career, often reflecting those views in his books for children. These politics were
more liberal than radical (he was essentially a New Deal Democrat), though some
of his political cartoons were highly critical of anti-Communist hysteria in the
United States. In 1943, Geisel enlisted in the U.S. Army as a captain, in which
capacity he headed the animation department of the First Motion Picture Unit of
the United States Armed Forces, charged with the production of propaganda and
training films in support of the war effort.
After the war, Geisel moved to La Jolla, California, and resumed his career
as Dr. Seuss, producing a string of important works, including If I Ran the Zoo
(1950), Horton Hears a Who! (1955), The Cat in the Hat (1957), How the Grinch
Stole Christmas (1957), Green Eggs and Ham (1960), and One Fish Two Fish Red Fish
Blue Fish (1960). From 1966, legendary animator Chuck Jones produced animated



Dr. Seuss

television adaptations of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, The Cat in the Hat, and
Horton Hears a who!, bringing Dr. Seusss work to an even broader audience. Dr.
Seuss himself wrote a series of six additional animated television specials between
1972 and 1983, winning multiple Emmy Awards.
The Cat in the Hat, specifically designed to encourage children to develop an
interest in and (eventually) love of reading, was both particularly successful and
particularly illustrative of the didactic purpose of Geisels seemingly nonsensical
writing and drawing. He followed with a series of such books, filled with lively,
lilting, rhyming language (constructed from very basic vocabularies), accompanied by amusingly zany illustrations. Some of these also had particularly strong
thematic political content, as in the antiwar parable The Butter Battle Book (1984).
In this sense, The Lorax (1971) is particularly effective in its presentation of
the dire consequences of unrestrained capitalist expansion and of the damage
that can be done through the consequent environmental destruction, in terms of
both the depletion of resources and the pollution of the environment. The book
is also clear in its support for the environmentalist movement, embodied in its
title figure, while the dismissive attitude of the capitalist Once-ler toward the
Lorax (whom he regards as a strident and annoying alarmist) effectively satirizes
critics of environmentalism. Meanwhile, the book presents a fairly sophisticated
tutorial on the workings of consumer capitalism and the ways in which a central
emphasis on market expansion (and growing profits) can get completely out of
control. The book even ends with a call to action that effectively places resistance
to consumption-driven environmental decay squarely in the hands of the young
boy who listens to the Once-lers storyand thus in the hands of the children
who are the intended audience for the book and for whom the boy serves as a
Many of Dr. Seusss books have remained among the leading-selling childrens
books on the market, even more than half a century after their initial publication. One of Americas best-known and most beloved authors, Geisel won a special
Pulitzer Prize in 1984 for his contribution over nearly half a century to the education and enjoyment of Americas children and their parents.
M. Keith Booker

Further Reading
Cohen, Charles.The Seuss, the Whole Seuss and Nothing But the Seuss: A Visual Biography of
Theodor Seuss Geisel. New York: Random House, 2004.
Fensch, Thomas, ed.Of Sneetches and Whos and the Good Dr. Seuss: Essays on the Writings and
Life of Theodor Geisel. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1997.
MacDonald, Ruth K.Dr. Seuss. Boston: Twayne, 1988.
Mickenberg, Julia L. Learning from the Left: Childrens Literature, the Cold War, and Radical
Politics in the United States. New York: Oxford UP, 2006.
Morgan, Judith, and Neil Morgan. Dr. Seuss & Mr. Geisel. New York: Random House,

D r e i s e r , T h e o d o r e

Nel, Philip. The Annotated Cat: Under the Hats of Seuss and His Cats. New York: Random
House, 2007.
Nel, Philip.Dr. Seuss: American Icon. New York: Continuum, 2004.
Pease, Donald.Theodor Seuss Geisel. New York: Oxford UP, 2010.

Dreiser, Theodore (18711945)

A prolific American novelist, essayist, belletrist, social thinker, and public intellectual from the 1890s until his death, Theodore Dreiser was as adroit at lauding
the success ethic as he was in describing an exploited tenement population. His
journalistic outrage at the working-class poverty of Progressive Era New York City,
poured out in Socialist New York Call pieces, was no bar to his eagerly seeking
profits from mainstream popular magazines and anything he penned, from stories
to plays to novels such as Jennie Gerhardt (1911). Some of his newest and most
persuasive explicators find him long engaged in the business of writing realist
fiction and thereby upholding the moneyed hegemony of the United States. Yet
Dreiser, well before the 1921 founding of the Communist Party of the United
States (CPUSA) and certainly in his Red years (19291945), was crusading in
print for the underclass and welcomed to the CPUSA literary organ, New Masses.
Such dualities have puzzled Dreiser scholars for generations. The intemperateness of his journalism, interviews, and assorted ephemera heightens the confusion
inscribed in his key novels Sister Carrie (1900); Jennie Gerhardt; An American Tragedy (1925); and the Frank Cowperwood trilogy: The Financier (1912), The Titan
(1914), and the posthumously published The Stoic (1947).
If there was any major lesson Dreiser learned from the thwarted attempts of
his embittered blue-collar father and unrealistic servant mother to provide a large
family with stability and economic well-being, it was the shameful constrictions
of the lived experience of downward mobility. Unlike Jack London and the more
privileged Upton Sinclair, Dreiser neither expected the working class to triumph
nor offered Socialist political narratives that foregrounded class struggle. Throughout his writers life, Dreiser built on the family narrative played out by the hapless
Dreiser family, for it was a model for key characters: the doomed Hurstwood, the
exploited Jennie Gerhardt, the ambitiously unskilled Clyde Griffiths, the corporately absolute Frank Cowperwood.
Perhaps Dreisers greatest virtue as a political thinker was his portrayal of how
the American quantification of success as monetary gave average people a language in which to articulate far more than consumer longings: desires for love,
for agency in the world, for the very spiritual essence. Enacting his own dialectic
between the craving and transcending acquisitiveness, Dreiser was eloquent on
the dangers of a commodifying culture that thrived on the widening gap between
rich and poor.
As a storyteller, Dreisers forte was the prescient sense of the power of money
as an affective force in peoples lives. He shows rather than tells how marginalized
groups of hyphenated Americans are a microcosm of the larger society in which
labor and capital are at odds, there is little escape from the economic tyranny of



Dreiser, Theodore

low-wage jobs, and the battles between corporate absolutism and industrial unionism are abstractions in the mental landscape of most breadwinning or homeless
people. As his letters chastising luminaries such as American Federation of Labor
president William Green or supporting the Left-led National Maritime Union on
the Pacific coast attest, Dreiser deplored the exclusionary politics of Big Unionism and the tendency of union hierarchies to profit from their members dues.
Dreiser in modern readings was indisputably an American upward-mobility author in that, like many American authors before and since, he was expert
at marketing his impoverished ethnic boyhood in everything from retrospective
memoirs to visits to the Soviet Union. He never wished to be considered an agitprop author and criticized those like Mike Gold for vitiating their own art by
preaching the workers revolution. He often explained away any contradictions
he entertained between supporting radicalism and dwelling within a capitalist
system and did so skillfully and repeatedly, as in his Russian Diary (1928). Yet for
decades he was lauded by the Communist Party and its news organs for visiting
Harlan County with John Dos Passos and New Masses artist William Gropper.
Well past the Great Depression, he continued to be honored by the Soviets for
what they saw as his class analyses in the major novels. One of his last letters,
written in 1945, was a letter to William Z. Foster applying for membership in the
Communist Party.
Dreiser was at his best as a political thinker when he immersed his writing in
the reporters trade he had so long practiced. His great strength was his belief in
the power of certain individuals to surmount oppressive conditions and empower
themselves in American society. Yet, always the observer, his fascination with all
sorts and conditions of people did not extend to leftist or centrist ideologies, much
less to passionate commitment to enabling an exploited social class to rise. If the
American narrative that most concerned him was ultimately his own, that narrative
was also a speaking chronicle of bourgeois strivings among the many disenfranchised who had neither access to radical theory nor an understanding of its power
to inspire.
Laura Hapke
Further Reading
Dowell, Richard. Introduction to An Amateur Laborer by Theodore Dreiser. Ed. Richard W.
Dowell, James L. W. West III, and Neda Westlake. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P,
Dreiser, Theodore. Dreisers Russian Diary. Ed. T. P. Riggio and James L. W. West III. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1996.
Dreiser, Theodore. Newspaper Days. Ed. T. D. Nostwich. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania
Press, 1992.
Homberger, Eric. American Writers and Radical Politics: Equivocal Commitments, 190039.
New York: St. Martins P, 1989.
Lingeman, Richard. Theodore Dreiser. 2 vols. New York: Putnam, 1990.

D u B o i s , W. E . B .

D u B o i s , W. E . B . ( 1 8 6 8 1 9 6 3 )
Du Boiss political career encompassed most of the major radical ideologies of the
20th century: black nationalism, Marxism, pan-Africanism, and anticolonialism.
His body of political work reveals changes and vacillations endemic to the scope of
his thought. Born just three years after emancipation, Du Boiss PhD training in history at Harvard produced the first major study of the African slave trade in 1896.
Culturally, the early Du Bois was strongly influenced by German idealism and
19th-century U.S. historian Alexander Crummell, a father of contributionisma
proto-Afrocentrism dedicated to revealing Africas influence on world cultures.
By 1900, Du Bois had thrown his support behind an emerging pan-Africanism,
attending the first Pan-African Conference in London in 1900. These ideas and
influences merged in his first famous work, The Souls of Black Folk (1903). Du Bois
argued that black Americans must enter the kingdom of culture and offered an
essentialist and idealist interpretation of double consciousness more indebted
to the dialectics of Hegel than Marx. Simultaneously, Du Bois began an interest
in Socialism and international events, writing in support of the Indian National
Congress and continuing his readings of Marx and Engels, which he had begun as
a student in Berlin. In 1906, Du Bois published the essay The Color Line Belts the
World, which extended his famous trope from The Souls of Black Folk to encompass struggles of brown, black, and yellow people across the world.
From 1905 to 1910, Du Bois was a cofounder and general secretary of the Niagara Movement, dedicated to black civil rights and antilynching activism. In 1910,
Du Bois became a member of the board of directors of the newly formed National
Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and editor of its journal, Crisis. From 1911 to 1912, Du Bois was a member of the U.S. Socialist Party.
He abandoned it because American Socialists refused, in his view, to criticize white
supremacy and racism in the U.S. labor movement. The outbreak of World War I
jolted Du Boiss thinking on race, nationalism, Socialism, and colonialism. Though
he supported U.S. entry into the war, in 1915 he published the essay The African
Roots of the War, criticizing capitalists for exploiting Asian and African labor and
predicting a growing resistance to colonialism. Du Bois carried this view at the
first, second, and third Pan-African congresses in 1919, 1921, and 1923. Simultaneously, the Russian Revolution forced him to think of black American labor as
part of the international proletariat. In 1926, Du Bois traveled for six weeks in the
Soviet Union. In 1928, he published the novel Dark Princess, an allegory of efforts
by Indian, Japanese, and black radicals to carry out a Soviet-inspired revolution
of colored peoples in the United States, India, and Berlin. The novel is a messianic romance synthesizing Du Boiss pan-Africanism, pan-Asianism, and interest in
Soviet Comintern support during the fight for black national self-determination.
Dark Princess also anticipated Du Boiss efforts in his historical opus Black Reconstruction (1935) to describe racism as a byproduct of capitalism. The book anchored
Du Boiss color line thesis in economic exploitation: race supremacy was one of the
wages of whiteness, an economic benefit that prevented white worker unity with
workers of color. This influential thesis, the foundation of so-called whiteness studies



D u B o i s , W. E . B .

in the contemporary academy, moved Du Bois closer to a historical-materialist paradigm. The beginnings of World War II tested this paradigm anew. In 1936, Du Bois
visited Germany, the Soviet Union, China, and Japan. Japans imperialist venturing
in China was initially excused by Du Bois as preferable to a white colonial takeover
of the country. Du Boiss lingering racialism, a carryover from his Afrocentric origins, informed what was arguably the worst political judgment of his career. By the
end of the war, he had recanted; Du Bois proclaimed all imperialisms evil and concentrated his attention on new anticolonial movements in Africa and Asia. In 1945,
he was coauthor, with the Communist William Patterson, of We Charge Genocide, a
tract attacking white supremacist colonialism presented to the newly formed United
Nations; published the book Color and Democracy: Colonies and Peace; and attended
the Fifth Pan-African Congress in Manchester, organized by George Padmore and
Kwame Nkrumah. In 1947, Du Bois published The World and Africa: An Inquiry
into the Part Which Africa Has Played in World History. The book both sustained and
revised Du Boiss earlier contributionist arguments, perceiving Africas anticolonial
struggles as the key to the liberation of the colored world.
Chinas Communist revolution was the greatest political influence on the last
period of Du Boiss life. Du Bois predicted that not just Vietnam but the Caribbean and Africa could follow Chinas example. Yet Du Boiss open endorsement
of Chinas revolution, and increasing support for U.S. Communists and Socialists
under attack by McCarthyism, caused his dismissal by the NAACP, his firing from
Atlanta University, his arrest and indictment as an unregistered foreign agent, and
the denial of his U.S. passport in 1952. During the same period, Du Bois became
vice chairman of the Left Council on African Affairs, an anticolonial organization
that included Communists; chaired the Peace Information Center devoted in part
to nuclear disarmament; and was a candidate for the U.S. Senate in New York on
the progressive American Labor Party ticket. Demonized at home, he was lionized
abroad: in 1959 he received the Lenin Peace Prize and visited China one final time,
where he was hailed by Mao. In the late 1950s, he topped off his literary career with
an impressive epic trilogy of historical novels, The Black Flame (19571961), which
is unwavering in its Marxist vision of all African American history as the history of
class conflict. In 1961, Du Bois joined the U.S. Communist Party, and was invited
by President Kwame Nkrumah to travel to Ghana. He became a citizen of Ghana,
where he died on August 27, 1963, on the eve of the historic March on Washington.
Du Boiss lifelong radicalism, Communist sympathy, and dedication to international liberation make his the most important black political life of the 20th century. Scholars are still charged with the difficult task of making coherent a political
career that was mercurial, contradictory, and evolutionary.
Bill V. Mullen

Further Reading
Du Bois, W. E. B. The Color Line Belts the World. Colliers Weekly, 20 October 1906.
Du Bois, W. E. B. The Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches. 1903. London: Penguin, 1996.

D y s t o p i a n L i t e r at u r e

Du Bois, W. E. B. The World and Africa. New York: International Publishers, 1946.
Horne, Gerald. Black & Red: W. E. B. Du Bois and the Afro-American Response to the Cold War,
19441963. Albany: SUNY P, 1986.
Lewis, David Levering. W. E. B. Du Bois: Biography of a Race. New York: Henry Holt, 1993.
Marable, Manning. W. E. B. Du Bois: Black Radical Democrat. Boston: Twayne, 1986.

D y s t o p i a n L i t e r at u r e
The word dystopia is a combination of the Latin root dys-: bad or abnormal and
the Greek root -topos: place. The term anti-utopia is also sometimes used. Dystopian literature therefore tells stories about bad places; specifically, it is literature
about possible future or near-future societies that will result if current or hypothetical political, environmental, and technological trends are amplified by history
into overarching principles of social organization. Usually dystopias are dominated
by a sinister political elite, but the evils of dystopias are also sometimes attributed
to ignorance, poverty, overpopulation, commercialism, or technology run amuck.
Though the genre of dystopian literature has precedents dating back to such
satirical works as Jonathan Swifts Gullivers Travels (1726) and Voltaires Candide
(1759), the genre in its modern form was defined by three works: George Orwells
Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), Aldous Huxleys Brave New World (1932), and Evgeny Zamyatins We (1924). Together these titles represent the most widely discussed science-fiction novels of the 20th century. All three exhibit the essential
themes and motifs of the dystopian genre: a totalitarian state that uses technology,
modern compartmentalized bureaucracy, total surveillance, and engineered sexual
norms to control every aspect of peoples lives. In the case of Nineteen Eighty-Four,
the state even constructs the very thought crimes that lead individuals to their
criminal dissensions. Each novel portrays the unsuccessful efforts of protagonists
who struggle with the authority of the state, with the understanding that the protagonists efforts transcend mere individualism and aspire to nothing less than the
struggle to maintain humanity itself. At this level, dystopian literature takes on the
task and methods of Menippean satire, not only offering a warning of bad times to
come, but advancing a diagnosis of the intellectual myths and the philosophical
credulousness that make dehumanization possible. A host of dystopian works variously explore these problems, bringing with them varying perspectives on the criteria of human nature and speculating on possible technological and bureaucratic
methods of social control. Drugs, poverty, lobotomy, consumerism, relentless
propaganda, laissez-faire capitalism, micro-managed bureaucracies, police states,
psychological theory, book burning, ecological disaster, computer-generated false
realities, psychopathic computers, runaway robots, forced immigrationsthere
are as many ways to dehumanize the human race as there are authors seeking to
publish novels on the subject.
Some critics explain dystopian literature as a dialectic development of the utopian literary genre; others see the form as an outcome of Menippean satire. Both
perspectives are correct. Dystopian literature clearly represents a response to the
claims advanced by utopian literature, while an examination of the distinctions



D y s t o p i a n L i t e r at u r e

between satire and dystopian literature underscores their shared philosophical

project. Both forms pursue the analysis of intellectual mythology through portraying the conflict, brutality, ignorance, intolerance, euphemism, and passivity
that are the result of positivism, scientism, and various modern orthodoxies; both
forms are literary. Perhaps as an outgrowth of their metaphysical activity, Menippean satire and dystopian literature explore the limits of idiosyncratic humor.
Although the humor of literary dystopia is often manic and bizarre, it functions
(as it does in satire) as a source of normalizing understanding through which
dichotomies of right/wrong and good/evil are identified and established. Nevertheless, the humor of dystopia is usually dark and pessimistic, reflecting alarm,
paranoia, confusion, and hysteria, while satire is often simply clever or funny. The
key distinction, however, is in the way the two forms analyze intellectual mythology. Dystopian literature locates conceptual confusion in the future and portrays
hypothetical institutions that illustrate the sociological ramifications of intellectual
mythology and modern orthodoxy. While dystopian literature essays prognostication and prophecy, satire locates conceptual confusion and intellectual mythology
in the present and provides a diagnosisthe emphasis is not on the possible future
histories of individuals and societies, but on the specific forms of the philosophical
credulousness, the conceptual confusion, and the misapprehensions of language
that produce intellectual mythology.
A host of dystopian works can be approached through identifying the modernist
myths they are attacking. In That Hideous Strength (1945), C. S. Lewis demonstrates
that the psychology of the scientific corporate institution is the culprit. Lewiss scientific bureaucracy emerges where human identification is displaced by a system
that divorces people from the core tradition of their own humanity. The hegemony
of the scientific bureaucracy is rooted in an environment of fear, politicized science, and overwork, and the institution works to enhance these conditions. Lewis
suggests that the university is the ideal context in which this dystopian corporate
psychology can germinate and evolve. In the novel Bend Sinister (1947), Vladimir
Nabokov identifies mechanistic ontological theory as the root of dystopia. The plot
of Bend Sinister follows the movements of a philosophy professor who is pursued
by a despot seeking an endorsement of his partys theory of human nature, which
emphasizes the practical virtue of dumbing down the population to a consistent
generalized level. In A Clockwork Orange (1962), Anthony Burgess perfectly realizes the generic dynamics of intellectual myth and dystopia. In this work, the myth
is predicated on the absolute vindication of the inner child. Burgess portrays a
society that assumes the realization of ones immediate desires is the one legitimate
goal of all individuals. Where conflicts occur, torture and conditioning are the
essential means through which social equilibrium can be identified and restored.
Burgesss evil protagonist, who is himself the subject of torture and conditioning,
ironically represents the novels greatest advocate of such measures. Torture and
conditioning is the direct and simple solution that appeals to the selfish and immature mind, and in this dystopia (as in many others), it is the selfish and immature
mind, vindicated by the intellectual pretensions and Paleolithic symbology of the
authoritarian state, that holds sway.

D y s t o p i a n L i t e r at u r e

The dystopian genre has continued in subsequent decades to be an important

element of science fiction. Of particular note in this regard is the work of the British science-fiction writer John Brunner, who produced a sequence of impressive
dystopian satires that included Stand on Zanzibar (1968), The Jagged Orbit (1969),
The Sheep Look Up (1972), and The Shockwave Rider (1975). In addition, writers
with literary reputations outside the realm of science fictionsuch as Angela Carter, P. D. James, Iain Banks, John Updike, T. C. Boyle, and Margaret Atwood
have also produced dystopian works, while the genre has, in the early years of the
21st century, become particularly prominent in the realm of Young Adult fiction,
where Suzanne Collinss Hunger Games trilogy (20082010) has been but the
most successful of many such works.
Carter Kaplan
Further Reading
Booker, M. Keith. Dystopian Literature: A Theory and Research Guide. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1994.
Booker, M. Keith, ed. Critical Insights: Dystopia. Ipswich, MA: Salem Press, 2013.
Kaplan, Carter. Critical Synoptics: Menippean Satire and the Analysis of Intellectual Mythology.
Madison, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2000.
Kumar, Krishan. Utopia and Anti-Utopia in Modern Times. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987.
Moylan, Tom, and Raffaella Baccolini, eds. Dark Horizons: Science Fiction and the Dystopian
Imagination. London: Routledge, 2003.


Ea s t e r n a n d C e n t r al E u r o p e a n L i t e r at u r e
The combined influence of realism and naturalism from both Eastern and Western
Europe was pronounced in the literature of Eastern and Central Europe during the
period 18701918. The Polish novelists Bolesaw Prus, Stefan Zeromski, and Stefan
Gaecki were all noteworthy for their socially conscious fiction during the period,
although their political perspectives differed widely, ranging from Pruss Spencerian positivism through Gaeckis fervent Socialism. Gaecki remained among the
most prominent political writersalong with Juliusz Kaden-Bandrowski and Leon
Kurczkowskiof Polands brief period of independence between World War I
and World War II. Although Mr Jkai may have been the best-known Hungarian
writer of the late 19th century, his work was only tangentially political. In contrast, Klmn Mikszth injected politics into Hungarian literature both through
his journalism and through his satires of the Hungarian gentry. At the outset of
the 20th century, poet/journalist Endre Ady produced a voluminous body of work
that frequently included scathing critiques of pre-WWI Hungarian society. The
philosopher Georg Lukcs was a contemporary of Ady, although it was not until
after World War I that he achieved his greatest influence on Marxist criticism. The
poet/journalist Jan Neruda and the novelist Karolina Svetl were among the leaders of the Czech writers known as the Mj generation, who blended Byronesque
revolutionary romanticism with themes of social and political emancipation. The
poets Svatopulk C ech and Viktor Dyk were among the most prominent politicized successors to the Mj generation. Concurrently, Slovak writers such as Josef
Gregor-Tajovsk and Boena Slancikov-Timrava used realistic fiction as a means
of social commentary. Franz Kafkas literary career also began in the years just prior
to World War I, though the prescient political dimension of his work was generally
acknowledged only after the rise of totalitarianism in the 1930s. The comic playwright Ion Luca Caragiale and the essayist Titu Maiorescufounder of the avantgarde Junimea circleinjected social and political themes into the predominantly
romantic/lyric literary traditions of Romania.
Most of the contemporary nations of eastern and central Europe existed in
some independent form between the world wars, but the politics of the region
were far from stable during this time. The collapse of the Ottoman Empire and
Austria-Hungary after World War I allowed Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania,
Poland, Greece, and Albania to become sovereign nations within eight years of
the end of World War I (Bulgaria had already become independent in 1908).
The Russian Revolution and the grave economic problems in Weimar Germany


E a s t e r n a n d C e n t r a l E u r o p e a n L i t e r at u r e

contributed to the region becoming a political battleground among factions representing the old aristocracy (e.g., Ioannis Metaxas in Greece), democratic reformers
(e.g., Tma Masaryk in Czechoslovakia), Socialist and Communist revolutionaries
(e.g., Georgi Dimitrov in Bulgaria), and extreme nationalists who would later ally
with the Fascists (e.g., Mikls Horthy in Hungary). As a result, much of the politicized literature of the interwar periodthough not necessarily that with the most
lasting influencecleaved along these same lines.
One of the most familiarthough perhaps most difficult to pigeonhole
political works of this time period is Jaroslav Haeks novel The Good Soldier vejk,
a broad-ranging satire on pettiness, inhumanity, and incompetence in the Austrian
military during World War I. Czech novelist and dramatist Karel Capek produced
a number of works of social criticism during the interwar period, including dystopian satires such as R.U.R. and The War with the Newts. Hungarian writers such
as Zsigmond Mricz, Lszl Nmeth, and Dezso Szabo were among the leaders of
the npi (populist) movement, which was a prominent feature of Horthy regime
literature. While not ideologically aligned with the Soviet proletarian writers, the
npi writers believed the peasantry to be the embodiment of authentic Hungarian
culture and produced works designed to improve their social status. Milo Urban
and Josef Cger Hronsk both examined similar issues in a Slovak context, as Yordan Yovkov and Elin Pelin did in a Bulgarian one, and as Mihail Sadoveanu, Liviu
Rebreanu, and Lucian Blaga did in Romania. While few of these writers were outspokenly political in their works in comparison with the American proletarian
writers of the 1920s and 1930s or the writers of Soviet Socialist realism, their
examination of the changing nature of their respective cultures during this period
of independence is inherently politicized by the history of the region. Noteworthy
among the more explicitly politicized writers was the Czech Communist journalist
Julius Fuck. His Reportage: Written from the Gallows is a posthumously published
account of his political martyrdom at the hands of the Gestapo during the Nazi
occupation of Czechoslovakia. This widely translated work almost immediately
became a classic of pro-Communist propaganda in the vein of John Reeds Ten Days
That Shook the World.
After World War II, most of Eastern and Central EuropeGreece being the
exception as a result of the Truman Doctrinefell under the direct influence of the
Soviet Union, which exerted a rigorous ideological control over literature. Until
the thaw that followed Stalins death in 1953, Socialist realism was the officially
mandated literary form for most of Eastern and Central Europe. Even in cases
such as Nicolae Ceausescus Romania or Enver Hoxhas Albania, where the Soviet
influence was less direct or even rejected, substantial governmental constraint of
literature was still present in most of the region. As a result, much of the most
important post-WWII political literature was produced by writers living in exile.
This is especially true of Eastern European Jews who had fled and/or survived
the Holocaust (e.g., Polish novelist/memoirists Elie Wiesel and Jerzy Kosinski),
as well as writers who faced punishment for their support for the revolutions in
Hungary in 1956 (e.g., novelist Pter Halsz, essayist Gyrgy Plczi-Horvath, and

E a s t e r n a n d C e n t r a l E u r o p e a n L i t e r at u r e

other writers associated with the Hungarian migr journal Literary Gazette) and
Czechoslovakia in 1968 (e.g., novelists Milan Kundera, Arnot Lustig, and Josef
kvoreck). To escape repressive regimes, a number of other prominent Eastern
European literary intellectuals emigrated, including dramatist Sawomir Mrozek
and poet Czeslaw Milosz (Poland); philosophers E. M. Cioran and Mircea Eliade
(Romania); novelist Georgi Markov and literary theorists Tzvetan Todorov and
Julia Kristeva (Bulgaria). The Greek writer Nikos Kazantzakisan idiosyncratic
fellow traveler who professed sympathies with Henri Bergson, Vladimir Lenin,
and Benito Mussolini at various stages of his lifebriefly attempted to enter Greek
politics as a Socialist immediately after World War II but eventually went into exile
when the monarchy was restored in 1947.
A number of notable writers flourished in Eastern Europe during the period of
Communist control. As was the case in the Soviet Union, most did so by conforming to the ideological restrictions on style and content (e.g., Ali Adbihoxha in Albania, Vitezslav Nezval in Czechoslovakia, Marin Preda and Geo Bogza in Romania,
Zoltn Zelk in Hungary). Others worked within the system by beingor at least
seeming to begenerally apolitical in their work (e.g., Wisawa Szymborska in
Poland, Yordan Radichkov and Emiliyan Stanev in Bulgaria, and Ladislav Fuks in
Czechoslovakia). Nevertheless, a number of dissident writers still gained large followings despite the fact that they were often allowed to publish only in clandestine
form (samizdat) or in foreign countries (tamizdat). The latter group includes such
writers as novelist Ismail Kadare (Albania); poet and dramatist Vclav Havel, poet
Dominik Tatarka, the intellectuals involved with the dissident Charter 77 movement, and novelists Bohumil Hrabal, Ivan Klma, and Ludvk Vaculk (Czechoslovakia); poet Sndor Csori, fiction writer Tibor Dry, novelists Peter Esterhzy and
Gyrgy Konrd, short-story writers Erzsbet Galgczi and Mikls Mszly, and
essayist Mikls Haraszti (Hungary); poet/dramatist/essayist Tadeusz Rzewicz, and
novelists Jerzy Andrzejewski, Jir Grua, Tadeusz Konwicki, and Andrzej Szczypiorski (Poland); poet Marin Sorescu, and novelists Eugen Barbu, Augustin Buzura,
and Constantin Toiu (Romania).
The definition of political literature has changed substantially with the renewed
independence of nations in Eastern and Central Europe in the wake of the Cold
War. With the monumental force of Communist ideology removed as a source of
either positive or negative inspiration, debates over literary aesthetic and stylistics
no longer contain a necessarily implicit political dimension. Many of the aforementioned dissidents and exiles have continued to write, but many of them (Konrd, Kundera, kvoreck) have shifted somewhat away from politics toward more
philosophical themes or experiments with technique. Others remain engaged with
politics but have broadened their scope from a contemporary scale to an epic one;
for example, Esterhzys Harmonia Caelestis (2000) is a sweeping novel about the
history of Hungary, and Stelian Tanase has undertaken a similar project examining his native Romania. The Greek novelist and short-story writer Vassilis Vassilikos continued to produce politically themed works, although none have had
the impact of his 1966 novel Z. Havel was the most directly political figure in the



El i o t, T. S .

post-Communist era, becoming president of the Republic in Czechoslovakia in

1989 and then the Czech Republic in 1993.
Derek C. Maus
Further Reading
Black, Karen, ed. A Biobibliographical Handbook of Bulgarian Authors. Trans. Predrag Matejic.
Columbus, OH: Slavica, 1981.
Czigny, Lrnt. The Oxford History of Hungarian Literature: From the Earliest Times to the
Present. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1986.
Elsie, Robert. History of Albanian Literature. New York: Columbia UP, 1995.
Hosking, Geoffrey A., and George F. Cushing, eds. Perspectives on Literature and Society in
Eastern and Western Europe. New York: St. Martins, 1989.
Milosz, Czeslaw. The History of Polish Literature. Berkeley: U of California P, 1983.
Novk, Arne. Czech Literature. Trans. Peter Kussi. Ann Arbor: Michigan Slavic Publications,
Petro, Peter. A History of Slovak Literature. Montreal: McGill-Queens UP, 1995.
Steiner, Peter. The Deserts of Bohemia: Czech Fiction and Its Social Context. Ithaca, NY: Cornell
UP, 2000.

El i o t, T. S . ( 1 8 8 8 1 9 6 5 )
Arguably the most influential English-language poet of the 20th century, Eliot was
also an important dramatist, editor, and critic. Born in St. Louis, Missouri, Eliot
was educated at Harvard, the Sorbonne, and Oxford. He immigrated to Europe in
1914, traveling in Germany and France before settling in England. From 1917 to
1925, Eliot worked at Lloyds Bank, dealing with the foreign monetary repercussions of World War I while writing poems and essays of increasing notoriety. He
was a leading modernist; an associate of Bertrand Russell, John Maynard Keynes,
Virginia Woolf, and Ezra Pound; an editor at the Egoist; and founding editor of
the Criterion (19221939). From 1925, he was poetry editor at Faber, where he
supported modernists as different as Pound, W. H. Auden, and Djuna Barnes.
Eliots early poemscollected in Prufrock and Other Observations (1917), Poems
(1919), and the posthumous Inventions of the March Hare (1996)depict the
bourgeois society of his New England and Midwestern origins while betraying
his fascination with the erotic vulgarity of mass culture, from blackface minstrelsy
to proletarian scenes. His most celebrated poem, The Waste Land (1922), mixes
social satire with a learned and paranoid elegy for Euro-American high culture,
fragmenting under the pressures of finance capital, sexual freedom, and the rise
of European nationalisms. In 1927, Eliot became a British subject and converted
to Anglicanism, inaugurating the period in which his poems and essays, from For
Lancelot Andrewes (1928) to Four Quartets (19351942), address the nature of
European and Christian culture.
Eliots thought centers on questions of order and tradition, combining an
impersonal aesthetics with the authoritarian impulses of the French writer and

El i o t, T. S .

politician Charles Maurras. In 1928, Eliot described himself as classical in literature, royalist in politics, and Anglo-Catholic in religion, echoing a 1913 description of Maurras as classique, catholique, monarchique. Eliot has often been
accused of making anti-Semitic statements, as in After Strange Gods (1930), where
he asserts that society cannot tolerate many free thinking Jews. Eliot objected
that this remark was not racial but sociohistorical; but his defense (still repeated by
some scholars) is undercut by prejudicial references to Jews in several poems. Eliot
is thus often linked with Pound, W. B. Yeats, and Wyndham Lewis as a neo-Fascist
writer. Yet he was scathing about the populism and statism of Fascist regimes, he
accused Maurras of wrongly inciting political hatred, and he rejected the British
BrownshirtOswald Mosleyas puerile.
Eliots dismissal of Fascist politics reflects his characteristic interest in literature, divinity, and anthropology over questions of state policy. As a dramatist, he
attempted to revive poetic drama, writing in verse. His late verse-dramas marry
mannerist comedy with theology, mirroring this tendency to subsume politics to
culture. Despite the controversies that still surround his writings, Eliots political
legacy is, perhaps, best measured in terms of his quintessentially high modernist
aestheticization of political life.
Matthew Hart
Further Reading
Levenson, Michael, ed. Does The Waste Land Have a Politics? Modernism/Modernity 6.3
(1999): 113.
Moody, David, ed. Cambridge Companion to T. S. Eliot. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994.
Ricks, Christopher. T. S. Eliot and Prejudice. Los Angeles: U of California P, 1988.
Schuchard, Ronald. Burbank with a Baedeker, Eliot with a Cigar: American Intellectuals,
Anti-Semitism, and the Idea of Culture. Modernism/Modernity 10.1 (2003): 126.


Fa s t, H o wa r d ( 1 9 1 4 2 0 0 3 )
In a career that stretched from the 1930s to the publication of his last novel in
2000, Howard Fast was one of the most prolific and popular authors of the American Left. Fast, the son of a New York factory worker, wrote numerous best-selling
novels, many of which have remained in print over long periods of time. Many
of his early works were historical novels about the American Revolution, including Two Valleys (1933), Conceived in Liberty (1939), The Unvanquished (1942), and
Citizen Tom Paine (1943). In such novels, especially the latter two, Fast attempts
to portray the radical origins of American democracy, envisioning the founding
fathers as the direct forerunners of the radical leftists of the 1930s and 1940s. Fast
continued his fictional re-creation of the American Revolutionary period in such
later works as April Morning (1961), The Crossing (1971), The Hessian (1972), and
Seven Days in June (1994). Fast also wrote historical novels set in other periods
of the American past, including The Last Frontier (1941, dealing with the brutal
and sometimes genocidal treatment of Native Americans by the U.S. government),
Freedom Road (1944, a critique of racism set during Reconstruction), The American (1946, a fictional biography of John Peter Altgeld, the Illinois governor who
pardoned three of the Haymarket anarchists), and The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti
(1953). His novels Silas Timberman (1954), The Story of Lola Gregg (1956), and The
Pledge (1988) deal with the McCarthyite anti-Communism of the late 1940s and
Fast also wrote historical novels set in ancient times, most notably Spartacus
(1951), focusing on a famous rebellion in which the gladiator Spartacus led a rebel
army composed of slaves and other gladiators in a two-year war against the power
of Rome, ending in 71 b.c.e. While ultimately unsuccessful, this rebellion would
long stand as a source of inspiration for the Left, as when the Communist rebels
who nearly took control of the German government under the leadership of Rosa
Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht in 1919 referred to themselves as Spartacists.
Fasts novel, meanwhile, serves as an important marker of the history of leftist culture in America. The early history of the book, for example, serves as a reminder
of the tribulations of the American Left during the McCarthyite repressions of the
early Cold War years. Spartacus, as Fast explains in his introduction to the 1996
reissue of the book, was written soon after its author was released from prison
for his refusal to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee
(HUAC) in their now notorious investigations of Communist activity in the United
States. Meanwhile, as Fast describes in his autobiography, Being Red, he had to


Fa u l k n e r , W i ll i a m

overcome a number of obstacles while writing the book (286300). For example,
he (along with thousands of other American leftists) was denied a passport and
was therefore unable to travel to Italy to research the book as he had hoped. Then,
despite his established reputation as a successful writer, Fast found that he was
unable to place the book with a commercial publisher due to the governmentsupported blacklist that made it virtually impossible for writers suspected of leftist
sympathies to get into print in the United States in the early 1950s. Not to be
dissuaded, Fast published the book himself and managed to sell over 40,000 copies. Meanwhile, the official attempt to suppress Fasts work gradually diminished,
partly because of a general lifting of the repressive atmosphere of the 1950s and
partly because of Fasts own disavowal of the Communist Party in his 1957 book
The Naked God. As a result, it became possible to make a film version of Spartacus,
and the 1960 film of the same title, directed by Stanley Kubrick, became one of the
classic works of American cinema.
In addition to his turn to self-publication, Fast evaded some of the blacklisting
associated with the darkest period of the repressive anti-Communism of the 1950s
by turning to the writing of a series of excellent thrillers, written under the pseudonym E. V. Cunningham and featuring a Japanese American detective. Ultimately,
he published more than 20 novels under that pseudonym, in addition to the more
than 40 he published under his own name. Winner of the 1954 Stalin Prize, Fast
was a member of the Communist Party from 1943 to 1956.
M. Keith Booker
Further Reading
Booker, M. Keith. The Modern American Novel of the Left: A Research Guide. Westport, CT:
Greenwood, 1999.
Fast, Howard. Being Red. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1990.
Macdonald, Andrew. Howard Fast: A Critical Companion. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1996.
Rideout, Walter B. The Radical Novel in the United States, 19001954. Cambridge: Harvard
UP, 1956.

Fa u l k n e r , W i ll i a m ( 1 8 9 7 1 9 6 2 )
Generally regarded as one of the greatest novelists in the United Statesand the
worldFaulkner was born and raised in North Mississippi, the area that he would
eventually explore in most of his best fiction. Largely self-taught, he typically portrayed the life and history of his fictional Mississippi county, Yoknapatawpha, with
dizzying and dazzling complexity, focusing on characters sorting out their lives
amid the Souths massive cultural transformations, as traditional culture gave way
to modernization and industrialism.
After two mildly successful novels set outside MississippiSoldiers Pay (1926)
and Mosquitoes (1927)Faulkner began in the late 1920s writing almost exclusively about life in North Mississippi. His best work followed, including Sartoris
(1929), The Sound and the Fury (1929), As I Lay Dying (1930), Sanctuary (1931),

Fa u l k n e r , W i ll i a m

Light in August (1932), Absalom, Absalom! (1936), The Unvanquished (1938), The
Hamlet (1940), and Go Down, Moses (1942).
A tragic gloom cloaks almost all of Faulkners work from this period, with the
grinding forces of history progressively transforming the heroic tall men of the
Southern past into piddling moderns, people more concerned with achieving
success than upholding honor and tradition. So dark, violent, and extreme was
Faulkners fiction, so peopled with the troubled if not the psychotic, that many
contemporary critics, particularly from the Left, saw his work tending toward the
savage, anticivilization roots of Fascism.
Faulkner was anything but a Fascist, however dark his fiction. In fact, during
the late 1930s, Faulkner was deeply worried about the rising power of Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy. When war broke out, he tried to join the war effort, and
when that failed, he ended up in Hollywood writing screenplays, several of which
were constructed as wartime propaganda.
Faulkners time in Hollywood was more significant to his career than generally acknowledged, for there he began to reassess his role as artist, driven by his
concerns regarding totalitarianisms threat to American democracy. He wanted to
be more articulate in the national voice, and after the war, he wrote fiction that
grappled more openly (and more didactically) with contemporary social issues,
particularly issues of freedom and democracy. Important work from his late period
include Intruder in the Dust (1948), Requiem for a Nun (1951), A Fable (1954), The
Town (1958), and The Mansion (1959).
Championed by proponents of the New Criticism as a paragon of modernism,
Faulkner found his critical reputation on the rise in the postwar period. After
winning the 1949 Nobel Prize, Faulkner became a public persona, giving numerous interviews, talks, and speeches in which he voiced a staunch antiauthoritarianism and anti-Communism. That antiauthoritarianism included resistance to
federal intervention regarding Southern race practices and laws; Faulkner instead
endorsed, as did most Southern liberals, a wary gradualism for improving the lot
of African Americans in the South.
Faulkners greatest writing, that from 1929 to 1942, was less overtly political
than his later, more predictable fiction. Even so, that earlier work pulsates with
social and political issues, particularly those surrounding the breakdown of traditional culture, even if those issues rarely take center stage. In his best work, Faulkner instead depicted political matters messily entangled with the desires, needs,
and fears of individuals, affirming little other than individual integrity and honor
in times when traditional ideals have lost cultural authority.
Robert H. Brinkmeyer Jr.

Further Reading
Blotner, Joseph. Faulkner: A Biography. 2 vols. New York: Random House, 1974.
Brooks, Cleanth. William Faulkner: The Yoknapatawpha Country. New Haven, CT: Yale UP,



F e d e r a l W r i t e r s P r o j e c t ( FW P )

Gray, Richard. The Life of William Faulkner: A Critical Biography. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.
Minter, David. William Faulkner: His Life and Work. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1980.
Schwartz, Lawrence. Creating Faulkners Reputation: The Politics of Modern Literary Criticism.
Knoxville: U of Tennessee P, 1988.
Singal, Daniel. William Faulkner: The Making of a Modernist. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1997.
Williamson, Joel. William Faulkner and Southern History. New York: Oxford UP, 1993.

F e d e r al W r i t e r s P r o j e c t ( FW P )
A New Dealera program that was part of the most substantive governmental support for the arts in American history. It was established as one of four arts programs
within the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1935 and supported roughly
5,000 writers, researchers, and clerical workers on average throughout its tenure.
Like all of the WPA projects, it was primarily an employment program, and the
vast majority of its writers were hired on the basis of demonstrated financial
need rather than literary achievement. Nonetheless, the project compiled a vast
and diverse body of work, including travel guides, essays, oral histories, fiction,
poetry, and collections of folklore. The most prominent project was the American
Guide series, which featured travel guides to each of the 48 states. These guides,
researched and written by workers at the various state offices, aimed to introduce
Americans to America, combining history, geography, ethnography, and economics into detailed cultural maps for auto tourists riding the eras proliferating network of U.S. highways. In addition to the guides, the project produced a volume
of essays and imaginative literatureAmerican Stuff (1938)and compilations of
oral history, such as These Are Our Lives (1939) and Lay My Burden Down: A Folk
History of Slavery (1945).
As is typical in New Deal discourse, one sees through the lens of FWP writings
a national unity-in-diversity; throughout the project, differences of race, ethnicity, region, and class are subsumed within a harmonious and unified America.
Scholars have emphasized, however, the tension between this romantic American
nationalism and competing regional, ethnic, and racial nationalisms. Perhaps the
most dramatic example is the ambivalent status of African Americans in the FWP,
both as employees and as objects of study. Although Sterling A. Brown played an
important role in the federal office as editor of Negro affairs, advocating against
stereotypical representations of African Americans, only about 2 percent of FWP
workers were black. As a result, African American perspectives were often absent
from FWP publications or, when present, were often represented in the distorting
light of the racism or provincialism of white writers and researchers at the local
However mild the FWPs ideological commitments seem from a contemporary
perspective, the project nonetheless found itself under increasing attack from conservatives in the late 1930s. Representative Martin Dies, chair of the newly formed
House Committee on Un-American Activities, questioned project head Henry
Alsberg and others in 1939 regarding both the alleged presence of Communists
throughout the organization and the alleged bent of FWP publications toward

F o w l e r , K a r e n J o y

anti-American propaganda in a harbinger of McCarthy-era Red-baiting. These

attacks, along with a broader shift in the governments emphasis away from relief
and toward war mobilization, ushered in the beginning of the end of the project,
which underwent a slow process of defunding, devolution, and eventual demise
between 1939 and 1942.
Jeff Allred

Further Reading
Hirsh, Jerrold. Portrait of America: A Cultural History of the Federal Writers Project. Chapel
Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2003.
Mangione, Jerre. The Dream and the Deal: The Federal Writers Project, 19351943. Philadelphia: U of Pennsylvania P, 1983.
Penkower, Monty Noam. The Federal Writers Project: A Study in Government Patronage of the
Arts. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1977.

F o w l e r , Ka r e n J o y ( 1 9 5 0 )
Born in Bloomington, Indiana, Karen Joy Fowler moved to California at the age
of 11 and later studied political science at the University of California at Berkeley.
That training is often reflected in her fiction, which tackles a variety of issues,
while also challenging conventional genre boundaries. For example, her critically
acclaimed first novel, Sarah Canary (1991), explores gender and ethnicity via a use
of science-fiction motifs so subtle that, for many readers, it reads like a conventional historical novel.
Fowlers second novel, The Sweetheart Season (1996) employs a number of fantasy elements, as does her story collection Black Glass (1997), which won a World
Fantasy Award, an award she would also win later for another collection, What I
Didnt See and Other Stories (2010). Her biggest critical success came with the 2004
novel The Jane Austen Book Club, which explores a number of gender issues via its
depiction of the members of the book club of the title and their engagement with
each other and with the writing of Jane Austen.
Fowlers most overtly political novel is probably We Are All Completely Beside
Ourselves (2013), which won the 2014 Pen/Faulkner Award. The story is narrated
by a woman who grew up as the child of scientists studying gorilla behavior by
attempting to integrate a young gorilla into their family, raising it alongside the
narrator as the narrators sister. The subsequent fate of the gorilla calls attention
to the horrific abuses that are heaped upon primates in various sorts of research
facilities and, by extension, calls attention to the problematic nature of animal
experimentation. The text thus participates in the concern with animal rights that
has become more and more important in the literature (and literary studies) of
the 21st century.
Fowler has also contributed to awareness of gender issues in the field of science
fiction through her cofounding (with Pat Murphy) of the James Tiptree Jr. Award



F o x , R a lp h

in 1991. Subsequently, that award has annually recognized writers who have made
outstanding contributions to the use of science fiction as a tool for exploring and
expanding our understanding of gender as a category.
M. Keith Booker

Further Reading
Duchamp, Timmel L. Something Rich and Strange: Karen Joy Fowlers What I Didnt
See. Daughters of Earth: Feminist Science Fiction in the Twentieth Century. Ed. Justine
Larbalestier. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2006. 35680.
Zinos-Amaro, Alvaro. Absence of Self: Karen Joy Fowlers Short Fiction Then and Now.
New York Review of Science Fiction 277 (September 2011): 1921.

F o x , Ralp h ( 1 9 0 0 1 9 3 6 o r 1 9 3 7 )
The most traveled of the leftist intellectuals of the 1920s and 1930s, Fox died
fighting in the Spanish Civil War and became a myth. His death occurred during
an attack on the village of Lopera on the Crdoba front on either December 28,
1936, or January 2, 1937; research suggests the former. John Cornford died in the
same fighting on the same day, and a monument to both has been erected. Fox
was assistant political commissar to No. 1 Company of the 12th Battalion, 14th
International Brigade. He left cover during heavy firing to organize a machine-gun
position, which led to his death.
Fox joined the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) in 1926. Born in Halifax, he gained a First in French at Oxford in 1922, and that year joined the Friends
Relief mission to Kazakhstan and southern USSR. His travel narrative The People
of the Steppes (1925) shows that he was in Moscow in 1922 and had at that time
a critical admiration for the revolution. From 1927, he reviewed books for the
CPGBs Sunday Worker, and moved to the Daily Worker (London) when it began
publication on January 1, 1930. His literary work develops a Marxist theory of the
novel, climaxing in his outstanding achievement, The Novel and the People (1937).
In 19301931 Fox worked at the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute in Moscow as
English librarian, where he researched subsequent books. From 1933, the foundations were laid for an orthodox British Marxism. With Montagu Slater and Tom
Wintringham, Fox founded Left Review in 1934. His daily column A Workers
Notebook began in the Daily Worker on October 21, 1935, and continued almost
uninterrupted until April 11, 1936. In 1936 alone, Fox published Genghis Khan,
France Faces the Future, and The Novel and the People (dated 1937). The memorial
volume Ralph Fox: A Writer in Arms appeared quickly, in March 1937, and set the
terms of the myth of the writer dying for a cause.
Fox interprets literature as a humanist contribution to the understanding of
social relations, a position not consistent with his Stalinist political writings. In
Lenin: A Biography (1933), Lenins admiration for Tolstoy is really Foxs (16165),
while his regard for the importance of women in the revolution becomes attached

F r e n c h L i t e r at u r e

to Stalin. An account by Ann Brett-Jones (a niece) suggests that Fox married twice,
once in Moscow and again in England, without divorcingapparently to help his
second wife get a visa to travel to Spain. There remains the question of why the
CPGB would ask a man of 36 to fight in the front line in Spain when his writings
had contributed so much to defining Communism in Britain.
Alan Munton

Further Reading
Brett-Jones, Ann. Ralph Fox: A Man in His Time. Bulletin of the Marx Memorial Library
137 (Spring 2003): 2741.
Fox, Ralph. The Novel and the People. 1937. Intro. Jeremy Hawthorn. London: Lawrence
and Wishart, 1979.
Lehmann, John, T. A. Jackson, and C. Day Lewis, eds. Ralph Fox: A Writer in Arms. London:
Lawrence and Wishart, 1937.

F r a n c o p h o n e A f r i c a n L i t e r at u r e
See African Literature (Francophone).
F r a n c o p h o n e Ca r i b b e a n L i t e r at u r e
See Caribbean Literature (Francophone).
F r e n c h L i t e r at u r e
Literature in France has been closely associated with politics since the Middle
Ages. French literature engaged with politics in a particularly direct way beginning
with the work of writers such as mile Zola in the late 19th century, as novels such
as The Dram Shop (LAssommoir, 1877) and Germinal (1885) allowed Zola to pave
the way for much more militant writing. Of the former, in which he dealt with
the problem of alcoholism among the working class, he wrote that he wanted not
only to describe fully the conditions of this class but to appeal for the enlightenment and education of the lower classes. With Germinal he went further, but
notably could still not provide a positive solution or alternative to the plight of the
exploited miners whose lives he described.
For writers of all political persuasions, this was a problem to be faced. While it
was one thing to analyze and expose and perhaps therefore indirectly make a case
for change or improvement, it was entirely another to describe how this could be
achieved. Those on the Left were particularly challenged. Change for many writers
of Socialist and Communist persuasion could only be achieved through revolution,
and several looked to the Soviet Union for a model. As Jean-Richard Bloch pointed
out in 1934, however, France had not undergone the kind of revolution that Russia
had experienced in 1917. Nonetheless, writing that positively advocated ways in



F r e n c h L i t e r at u r e

which society might be changed began to appear. Important in this development

was Henri Barbusse and his novel Under Fire (Le Feu, 1916), depicting the appalling fighting conditions of World War I. Barbusse uses the squad of foot soldiers,
of which he is part, as a symbolic representation of Frances working class as a
whole, but he also takes advantage of his role as omniscient author to preach,
somewhat intrusively, the virtues of revolution and in particular of equality. In a
second war novel, Clart (1919), this would be even more apparent, but Barbusse
had become an important voice. He joined the French Communist Party (FCP),
founded in 1920, and, through his periodical Clart, provided a vital channel for
information on the literary and cultural matters within the Soviet Union to be
made known in France. By the end of the decade, however, when the FCP was
becoming increasingly hardline, Barbusse was deemed insufficiently orthodox and
was heavily and publicly criticized. Not surprisingly, committed left-wing writers
now championed Communism and viewed the Soviet Union with open admiration. Louis Aragon, who was to become one of the FCPs dominant and most
influential intellectuals, largely abandoned the innovative and experimental poetry
he was producing as a surrealist to turn out simplistic verse in praise of the Soviet
Union. At the same time in his novels The Bells of Basel (Les Cloches de Ble, 1934)
and The Finest Districts (Les Beaux Quartiers, 1936), he satirized the superficiality
and corruption of bourgeois society but could never provide as an integral part
of the fiction a revolutionary socialist alternative. He would not achieve this until
he produced his four-volume apology for communism, The Communists (Les Communistes, 19491951), a work that now seems hopelessly dated. More successful
was Paul Nizan, who had been a fellow pupil and close friend of Jean-Paul Sartre
and Simone de Beauvoir. Nizans militancy was already apparent in early essays,
and in his first two novelsAntoine Bloy (1933) and especially The Trojan Horse
(Le Cheval de Troie, 1935)he illustrates both the corrupting, stifling nature of
bourgeois society and how through struggle it can be overcome. This was a period
when left-wing political writing in France was dominated by Socialist realism and
by the idea that literature was not for entertainment but should educate its readers
and shake them out of their complacencya view that had much in common with
Bertolt Brechts notion of estrangement.
Although politics was central to a large amount of the imaginative writing produced during the years of the occupation in World War II (see, for example, the
issues of Posie; Vercorss Put Out the Light [Le Silence de la mer, 1942]; Sartres The
Flies [Les Mouches, 1942]; or Anouilhs Antigone [1944]), circumstances meant that
literature written to an ideological or political program temporarily disappeared.
But after the liberation, with the growing marginalization of the FCP and the development of the Cold War, a new wave of influence spread from the Soviet Union.
Works on all aspects of artistic, cultural, and intellectual issues by Joseph Stalins minister of culture, Zhdanov, were translated and imitated in France by Jean
Kanapa and Laurent Casanova. Aragon and Paul Eluard produced poems full of
admiration for the Soviet Union as a nation of peace and optimism. Socialist realism reappeared. Andr Stil and Pierre Courtadewith the trilogy The First Clash
(Le Premier Choc, 19511953) and Jimmy (1951), respectivelywrote violently

F r e n c h L i t e r at u r e

anti-Western and anti-American novels in which true enlightenment and real

change is seen to be realizable only through an espousal of Communism. Stalin and
even Maurice Thorez, the first secretary of the FCP, are worshiped as heroes. With
the novels Beau Masque (1954) and 325,000 francs (1955), Roger Vailland explored
capitalism and revolutionary activity, but by broadening his picture to include a
study of the psychology of his characters, he successfully managed to avoid overschematization. But, especially after Khrushchevs 1956 denunciation of Stalin, a
new sense that literature could not be produced to order and according to a formula or programthat it would always contain some nonreducible element to do
with a writers creative talentwas beginning to surface and became officially
recognized at the major FCP conference held at Argenteuil in 1966. For the first
two-thirds of the 20th century, French leftist literature tended to be programmatic,
produced in opposition to the prevailing social and political climateeven when,
temporarily, France had a radical or Socialist government, as in 19241925 and
19361937. If there was less or indeed no need, therefore, for a similar politically
driven literature of the Right, there were, nonetheless, writerssome of whom
regularly upheld moderate conservative values in their work and others who went
even further. By the late 19th and early 20th centuries, for example, there was
Maurice Barrs (18621923), a conservative republican who was already underlining the importance of blood and soil and of allegiance to ones region or country
in works like Colette Baudoche (1909), and spelling out the dangers of attempting
to break free from these formative influences in Uprooted! (Les Dracins, 1896).
Barrss influence would be powerful, acknowledged by or traceable in the work
of writers as disparate in other ways as Malraux, Mauriac, Camus, and Giono. This
kind of intense patriotism would also become prominent again during the occupation. Writers such as Michel Mohrt, Ren Benjamin, and Pierre Benoit considered
Frances fate to be inevitable, if not even deserved. There is no better example than
Benjamins That Tragic Spring (Le Printemps tragique, 1940), in which a character roundly attacks French society of the previous 20 years for having completely
abandoned its standards.
But such views were mild in comparison with those expressed by writers who
openly admired the various Fascist regimes to emerge in Europe during the interwar period. In some of his World War I poetryInterrogation (1917), Fond de
Cantine (1920)Pierre Drieu la Rochelle, who became a self-acknowledged Fascist in 1934, had already described the delights of virile man-to-man fighting with
Germans. In The Comedy of Charleroi and Other Stories (La Comdie de Charleroi,
1934), the same delight is expressed along with a barely concealed homoerotic
dimension, and in Gilles (1939), Drieu openly embraces the Fascist campaign in
Spain. A similar desire to be dominatedand by extension the view that France
should submit willingly to Nazi poweris found in the work of Robert Brasillach, especially in The Seven Colors (Les Sept Couleurs, 1939). Brasillach was
an anti-Semitethe anti-Semitism of the Right already manifest at the time of
the Dreyfus Affair continued to be strongas were Louis-Ferdinand Cline and
Lucien Rebatet. But like many of the early writers at the other end of the political
spectrum, their workssuch as Rebatets The Rubble (Les Dcombres, 1942) and



F r e n c h L i t e r at u r e

The Two Standards (Les Deux Etendards, 1952)are limited to violent attacks on
the corrupt society of previous years and do not, except perhaps by implication,
advocate the implementation of an alternative political program.
For a while after the liberation, a nostalgic review of lost values and an attempt
to reconstruct a picture of society based on them was developed by a group of
writers known as the Hussards, containing, among others, Roger Nimier, Jacques
Laurent, and Thierry Maulnier. While again they did not propose any particular
program for reform, the group was evidence of the strong and continuing tradition
of writers and intellectuals sympathetic to the values of the Right.
With the Socialist presidency of Franois Mitterrand, many felt that oppositional literature on the Left was no longer needed. Still, large political and social
concernsimmigration, tourism, colonialism poverty, terrorism, the status of
womencontinued to provide the subject matter of important works of imaginative writing of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Michel Tourniers The
Golden Droplet (La Goutte dor, 1985: immigration), Patrick Modianos Unknown
Women (Des Inconnues, 1999: the plight of women and threat of indoctrination),
and Michel Houllebecqs Platform (Plateforme, 2001: sexual tourism and terrorism)
are all testimony to this, and continue a tradition that had its roots in the distant
past, but programmed political writing no longer appears to be either desirable or
indeed necessary.
John E. Flower
Further Reading
Cryle, Peter M. Thematics of Commitment: The Tower and the Plain. Princeton, NJ: Princeton
UP, 1984.
Flower, J. E. Writers and Politics in Modern France, (19091961). London: Hodder and
Stoughton, 1977.
Flower, J. E. Literature and the Left in France. London: Macmillan, 1983.
Hewith, Nicholas. Literature and the Right in Postwar France. Washington, D.C.: Berg, 1996.

Ga r c a L o r c a , F e d e r i c o ( 1 8 9 8 1 9 3 6 )
The oldest son of an Andalusian landowner, Lorca became the most famous Spanish poet and playwright of the 20th century. Although he forswore political affiliations, Lorca was an outspoken critic of social injustice and a prominent supporter
of the Second Spanish Republic. His implicit endorsement of the Left, together
with his homosexuality, antagonized the Spanish Right. Lorca was murdered by a
nationalist firing squad in the first month of the Spanish Civil War.
Born on the outskirts of Granada, Spain, Lorca grew up amid images and social
conditions that influenced his work throughout his life. Initially drawn to music
he was a prodigious pianistLorca began writing in his teens. In 1919, he moved
to Madrid, where he remained for most of his life, making regular visits to Granada. Throughout the 1920s, Lorca struggled to establish himself as a poet and
playwright. Early works were critical failures. In 1922, Lorca collaborated with
the Andalusian composer Manuel de Falla on a festival of gypsy deep song in
Granada, an endeavor that helped inspire Lorcas first best-selling poetry collection, Gypsy Ballads (1928). He achieved his first theatrical success in 1927 with the
premiere of Mariana Pineda, about a 19th-century Granadan rebel. The painter Salvador Dal, with whom Lorca had become passionately involved, designed the sets.
By 1930, Lorca was known throughout Spain and gaining a growing readership
abroad. With the start of the Second Spanish Republic in 1931, he and his fellow
poets, known collectively as the Generation of 27, came into their own. Thanks
to his friendships with members of the republican government, Lorca was asked
to direct a government-sponsored theater group, La Barraca. With the triumphant
1933 premiere of his first Andalusian tragedy, Blood Wedding, Lorca helped inaugurate a second golden age of Spanish theater. Two more Andalusian tragedies,
Yerma (1933) and The House of Bernarda Alba (1936), followed, in addition to
other plays and poetry collections. By 1934, the republican government had come
under fierce attack from right-wing factions. Appalled by the political turmoil,
Lorca signed petitions supporting the government, but unlike fellow poet Rafael
Alberti, Lorca did not join the Communist Partyor any other party. His work
remained essentially apolitical, although his unfinished Play without a Title (1934)
alludes to the Asturian Revolution of 1934.
Lorca was in Granada in July 1936 when the Spanish Civil War began. On
August 16, nationalist forces arrested him. On the night of August 18 or 19 (the
precise date is unknown), he was driven to a hillside near the town of Vznar and
shot. Although officials in the nationalist movement clearly sanctioned the killing,


Garca Mrquez, Gabriel

the government of Francisco Franco never accepted responsibility for it. In 1986,
the government of Felipe Gonzlez erected a monument on the site of Lorcas murder. The gesture bears witness to Lorcas stature as one of Spains greatest writers.
Leslie Stainton

Further Reading
Gibson, Ian. The Assassination of Federico Garca Lorca. New York: Penguin, 1983.
Gibson, Ian. Federico Garca Lorca: A Life. New York: Pantheon, 1989.
Stainton, Leslie. Lorca: A Dream of Life. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999.

Ga r c a M r q u e z , Ga b r i e l ( 1 9 2 8 2 0 1 4 )
The best-known and most widely read Latin American author, 1982 Nobel Prize
winner in Literature, and member of the boom generation who brought Latin
American literature and magical realism to worldwide attention in the 1960s,
Garca Mrquez began his career as a journalist in his native Colombia. While
fiction is the genre for which he is best known, he produced a significant amount
of journalismeven buying a 50 percent interest in a Colombian newsweekly in
1998, for which he occasionally also reported and editedand he published the
first volume of his autobiography, Living to Tell the Tale (Vivir parla contarla, 2002).
Garca Mrquezs breakout (and most widely read) novel is One Hundred Years of
Solitude (Cien aos de soledad, 1967), which went on to become the signature text
of magical realism. The novel borrows liberally from accounts of early explorers,
biblical tales, Latin American history, and Hispanic literature to reinvent the New
World as Macondothe fictional town where the novel takes place. The novels
play with structure and time, its links between fiction and reality, and its poetic
language accompany its concerns with the traditional dominance of sex over love,
the elites over the poor, and men over women.
The focus on Latin America as the foundation of the boom texts disguises both
the distinct discomfort the works display toward Latin American reality and the
way the texts rewrite it to be less marginalized and less a part of the third world.
Garca Mrquezs preoccupation with isolation, both of the individual (particularly
in old age) and of Latin America, is a common thread in many of his novels, notably
No One Writes to the Colonel (El coronel no tiene quien le escriba, 1961), The Autumn of
the Patriarch (El otoo del patriarca, 1975), and Chronicle of a Death Foretold (Crnica
de una muerte anunciada, 1981). His mythification of history and increasingly leftist
perspective also become more prominent over the course of his career.
Love in the Time of Cholera (El amor en los tiempos del clera, 1985) represents
Garca Mrquezs attempt to move beyond the strictures of the boom to the postboomthe reigning Latin American literary movement after 1975. The new
aesthetic tells intimate stories that have a deeper focus on a limited number of
characters. For Garca Mrquez, this becomes the story of two lovers trapped in
an endless cycle on a riverboat. While the novel succeeds, it pays little attention to

G e r m a n L i t e r at u r e

post-boom concerns of social justice and allowing the marginalized to speak over
the elites who had monopolized Latin American fiction previously.
Jason G. Summers

Further Reading
Shaw, Bradley A., and N. Vera-Godwin, eds. Critical Perspectives on Gabriel Garca Mrquez.
Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1986.
Swanson, Philip. The New Novel in Latin America: Politics and Popular Culture after the Boom.
Manchester, UK: Manchester UP, 1995.
Valds, Mara Elena de, and Mario J. Valds, eds. Approaches to Teaching Garca Mrquezs
One Hundred Years of Solitude. New York: Modern Language Association, 1990.
Williams, Raymond Leslie. Gabriel Garca Mrquez. Boston: Twayne, 1984.

G e r m a n L i t e r at u r e
German literature had a rich, but fragmentary tradition prior to the 20th century,
with playwrights such as Heinrich Heine (17971856) and Georg Bchner (1813
1837) providing especially valuable precedents for modern German political writers. Gerhart Hauptmann (18621946), the leading German naturalist, elaborated
one of Heines motifs in The Weavers (1892), based on the plight of the workers in
the Silesian textile industry in the 1840s. Hauptmanns account of their failed revolt
against poverty wages resonated in the newly industrialized Kaiserreich, where Bismarcks Anti-Socialist Laws had recently been repealed. In Hauptmanns wake,
an increasing number of writers attacked the authoritarian moral values and rigid
social structures of Wilhelmine Germany. Chief among these are Frank Wedekind
in plays such as Spring Awakening (1891, not performed until 1906), Hermann
Hesse in Beneath the Wheel (1906), and Heinrich Mann in The Blue Angel/Small
Town Tyrant (1905) and The Man of Straw (1918). Yet most German writers still
welcomed the outbreak of war in 1914, seeing military action as an opportunity
to test the moral fiber of the nation and assertin Thomas Manns phrasethe
superiority of Germanic Kultur over Western Zivilisation. Heinrich Mann conducted a bitter quarrel with his younger brother, which he began with an essay
on the French social novelist and champion of Dreyfus, mile Zola, who was said
to embody a literary practice based in social reality that was alien to the Germans.
Thomas responded with a work he realized had been overtaken by the times before
he completed it but in which he was determined to set out the intellectual case
for Germanic values, The Reflections of a Nonpolitical Man (1918). Thomas Manns
subsequent career in the public arena as an anti-Nazi and beleaguered defender
of democracy during the Weimar Republic is all the more remarkable given these
conservative beginnings.
The first republic on German soil lasted from 1918 to 1933 and was beset from
the Left, who wanted a Bolshevik Revolution as in Russia, and the Right, who
never accepted the legitimacy of the fledgling democratic order. In these highly



G e r m a n L i t e r at u r e

ideological times, virtually all German writers engaged with politics. Ernst Jnger
glorified the military experience in the trenches of Flanders in The Storm of Steel
(1920), which made him a leading spokesman for the intellectual Right and proponent of a conservative revolution. In a more populist vein, Hans Grimm gave the
Nazis one of their more memorable slogans with the title of his novel of colonial
expansion, Volk ohne Raum (1926). Gottfried Benn is the only poet of note who
greeted the Nazis coming to power, although like philosopher Martin Heidegger,
who also welcomed them, he had become disaffected by the end of the 1930s. It
was on the Left, however, that most significant literary activity took place during
the interwar period. Kurt Tucholskys campaigning journalism in Germany was
matched in Austria by Karl Kraus, editor of The Torch and author of a satire on
the mentalities responsible for World War I, The Last Days of Mankind (1919).
Ernst Toller, who was imprisoned for his role in the short-lived Soviet Republic of
Munich in 1918/1919, wrote a series of plays on revolutionary themes. There is
no more incisive political drama from the interwar period than Italian Night (1930)
by dn von Horvth, who, next to Marieluise Fleisser in Berlin, founded the critical folk play, which would be revived by radical dramatists such as Franz Xaver
Kroetz and Rainer Werner Fassbinder in the 1960s. Bertolt Brecht, who collaborated with Fleisser, followed his youthful phase of shocking the bourgeoisie with
political dramas designed to enlighten audiences by fostering an attitude of critical
reflection. The dark times in which he wrote entailed that all of life acquired a
political dimension. Brechts literary practice and moral example exercised great
influence in both German states after 1945.
Critical writing became an increasingly dangerous business during the Hitler
period. The Nazis murdered Erich Mhsam in 1934 and Karl von Ossietzky four
years later. Their propaganda chiefJosef Goebbels, who had himself once written
a novelfirst courted illustrious cultural figures but ultimately set little store by
their support. Most writers fled Germany in 1933, when the Nazis showed their
contempt for works they deemed unpatriotic by burning them on public bonfires. When they burn books, they will burn people next, Heine had presciently
remarked a hundred years earlier. The Nazis success signaled a defeat for political
literature, but writers resisted Nazism more resolutely than other sectors of the
population, even though they failed to prosper in exile and failed also through
clandestine distribution channels to reach a wider public in Hitlers Germany.
Those who did not succumb to suicidal despair, like Tucholsky in 1935 and Toller
in 1940, continued the anti-Fascist fight through journals and printing presses
based in Prague or Amsterdam until the outbreak of war, from London and the
United States thereafter. Some exiled writers, such as Alfred Dblin and Klaus
Mann, donned the uniforms of the Nazis enemies and entered the defeated country in the armies of the victorious Allies in 1945.
After World War II, writers once again enjoyed great prestige, as the battle for
the hearts and minds and reeducation of surviving Germans began. Brecht, first
equipping himself with an Austrian passport, was the most prestigious figure to
return to the GDR, where exiled writers were at first more inclined to settle as
the Communist regime promised a complete break from the past, which was not

G e r m a n L i t e r at u r e

obviously the case in the West. The history of the interaction between writers
and real existing socialism in the GDR is, however, one of repeated disaffection,
immigration to the West, or private withdrawal. Brecht died before direct confrontation with the regime became inevitable. Critics received summary justice in the
early days: Erich Loest and Walter Kempowski were sent to jail. The year 1976,
when the singer-songwriter Wolf Biermann, whose mother had died at Auschwitz
and who had come East in 1953 to help build Socialism, was stripped of his citizenship while on tour in West Germany, marked the point of no return. Yet what
distinguished East German writers from dissidents in other Soviet-bloc states was
their continued allegiance to an idea of Socialism. Heiner Mller, Christa Wolf,
Christoph Hein, and even Jurek Becker attacked the state in the name of a better,
more Socialist alternative; none wanted annexation by the West. When the GDR
finally crumbled, state apparatchiks like Hermann Kant who had chaired the Writers Union rightly found their integrity in tatters; the veteran Stefan Heym, on
the other hand, who had been the regimes greatest critic up to 1989, became the
former states greatest defender. Yet so close was the association of writers with the
discredited regimeeven those who had been in oppositionthat GDR dissidents
were a spent force once the Berlin Wall was breached.
The first decade of the federal republic was less auspicious, as, by and large,
writers felt they were making a new beginning and imitated foreign modelssuch
as Faulkner, Hemingway, and Camusrather than continuing the anti-Fascist
struggle. As the relationship between writers and the state was worked out in freedom, however, political writers ultimately enjoyed greater influence in the West.
Hans Werner Richters Gruppe 47, which first met two years after the end of the
war, developed over the following two decades into a forum for liberal-Left authors
to try out their new work. It became associated with a set of values at odds with
the conservative orthodoxy of the ruling Christian democrats under Konrad Adenauer. Richters informal group never published a manifesto and had no official
program but served as a forum for emerging writers, such as Heinrich Bll, Gnter
Grass, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Martin Walser, Ingeborg Bachmann, and Peter
Weiss, all of whose work made a direct political impact. Weisss verse drama on
the Frankfurt-Auschwitz trials, The Investigation (1965), brought the subject of the
Holocaust to the attention of a new generation, as had Rolf Hochhuths The Representative (1963); Blls The Lost Honour of Katharina Blum (1974) was a political
intervention on the media response to the excessive counter measures on the part
of the state to the threat posed by the Red Army Faction (RAF, or Baader-Meinhof
Group). These writers were more inclined, however, to invest their cultural capital
in the production of polemical speeches and articles that often prompted national
debate. They supported Willy Brandts social democrats in the 1960s. Some, like
the migr poet Erich Fried, moved further to the Left after the formation of a
Grand Coalition of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in December 1966, aligning themselves with the radicals in
the student movement in 1968 or the newly refounded Communist Party (DKP)
after 1971. The greatest political novel produced in this period is Uwe Johnsons
mournful epic Anniversaries (19701983), which takes no sides. Political activism



Gibbon, Lewis Grassic

continued into the 1980s as writers supported womens rights, disarmament, ecology, and antiracism. So far, under the new Berlin Republic, political literature has
continued to focus on the same issues as the recent past; no new chapter has been
Julian Preece

Further Reading
Bance, Alan, ed. Weimar Germany: Writers and Politics. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic P,
Benn, Maurice B. The Drama of Revolt: A Critical Study of Georg Bchner. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1976.
Cooke, Paul, and Andrew Plowman, eds. German Writers and the Politics of Culture: Dealing
with the Stasi. Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2003.
Dove, Richard. A Biography of Ernst Toller: He Was a German. London: Libris, 1990.
Grner, Rdiger, ed. Politics in Literature. Munich: Iudicium, 2004.
Kane, Martin, ed. Socialism and the Literary Imagination: Essays on East German Writers. New
York: Berg, 1991.
Lawrie, Steven W. Erich Fried: A Writer without a Country. New York: Lang, 1996.
McGowan, Moray, and Ricarda Schmidt, eds. From High Priests to Desecrators: Contemporary
Austrian Writers. Sheffield, UK: Sheffield Academic P, 1993.
Parkes, Stuart, and John J. White, eds. The Gruppe 47 Fifty Years On: A Re-appraisal of Its
Literary and Political Significance. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1999.
Reeves, Nigel. Heinrich Heine: Poetry and Politics. London: Libris, 1994.
Reid, James H. Heinrich Bll: A German for His Time. Oxford: Wolff, 1988.

Gibbon, Lewis Grassic (19011935)

Son of working farmers in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, and christened James Leslie
Mitchell, Gibbon took his mothers name for his Scottish fiction and wrote under
his own name in English. He referred to himself as a Communist and was beginning to support Scottish nationalism before he died prematurely of peritonitis. He
worked as a journalist before joining the army and traveling to the Middle East.
After World War I, he experienced poverty and unemployment in London, then
served in the Air Force until 1929. He settled as a full-time writer in Welwyn Garden City in England.
His major work is the trilogy of novels Sunset Song (1932), Cloud Howe (1933)
and Grey Granite (1934), collectively published as A Scots Quair (1946). The first
novel tells the story of a young woman, Chris Guthrie, growing up on a farm from
the beginning of the 20th century to the end of World War I. She marries and has a
son, Ewan, but her husband and their farming friends are all killed in the war. The
book ends with the funeral of their way of life: They died for a world that is past,
these men, but they did not die for this that we seem to inherit. Instead of sentimental
nostalgia, Gibbon projects the values of the older Scotland as a permanent sharp
critique of mechanized modernity. In Cloud Howe, Chris is married to a minister

G i b b o n , L e w i s G r a s s i c

and living in a small town, where her husbands visionary hope for a better future
is finally frustrated and she is left alone once again. In Grey Granite, she has moved
to the city and her son has grown up to become a Communist activist, leading
strikes and being brutalized by thuggish police. At the end, Gibbon opens a radical
dialectic, returning Chris to the land of her youth and the image of regeneration
inherent in the conservative cycle of seasons, while Ewan leads a Socialist march
across the border toward a future he believes he can help make better. Gibbon
does not ironize or privilege either option. His sympathies are evidently with both
Chris and the older Scotland she inhabits as well as Ewans steely determination
for a better future. The ending is a recognition of the necessity of the continuing
struggle and elemental realities.
Gibbons most memorable short stories, Clay, Smeddum, and Greenden,
were published in Scottish Scene (1934)a book of stories, poems, essays, biographies, and newsreels (cuttings from newspapers of the day), which Gibbon
coauthored with Hugh MacDiarmid. The book remains a sparkling, contradictory, and passionate document of its era, condemning the shortcomings of Scottish attempts at self-determination and castigating Ramsay MacDonald (the first
Labourite British Prime Minister) as the Wrecker, destroying hopes for real
Socialism in Britain.
The short stories, like the trilogy of novels, achieve the radical development of
a narrative prose idiom that represents the speech of the characters. Since Walter
Scott, narrative prose in Scottish novels had traditionally been English while characters spoke Scots. Gibbons achievement was to create a Scots prose, a brilliantly
vivid depiction of what he calls the speak of the place. As art, this writing is
related to similar experiments in literature by James Joyce and William Faulkner
and the modern movements key characteristics of multiple perspectives and a
relative sense of time.
Gibbon/Mitchell wrote 17 books in the last seven years of his life. Of the novels in English, Spartacus (1933) is the most powerfully politicized, and Stained
Radiance (1930) and The Thirteenth Disciple (1931) are revealingly autobiographical. Gay Hunter (1934) and Three Go Back (1932) are science fiction novels
of time travel and social critique. Gibbon was protofeminist, deeply concerned
with the place of women in society, and fierce in his depiction of the brutalities of male dominance and the evils of militarism, class, competition, and war.
His early death should not diminish our recognition of the major quality of his
Alan Riach

Further Reading
Campbell, Ian. Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Edinburgh: Scottish Academic P, 1985.
Gifford, Douglas. Neil Gunn and Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1983.
McCulloch, Margery Palmer, and Sarah M. Dunnigan, eds. Lewis Grassic Gibbon: A Centenary Celebration. Glasgow: Association for Scottish Literary Studies, 2003.



G i n s b e r g , All e n

Munro, Ian S. Leslie Mitchell: Lewis Grassic Gibbon. Edinburgh: Oliver & Boyd, 1966.
Young, D. F. Beyond the Sunset: A Study of James Leslie Mitchell. Aberdeen: Impulse Books,

G i n s b e r g , A ll e n ( 1 9 2 6 1 9 9 7 )
Although Allen Ginsbergs legendary October 13, 1955, Six Gallery (San Francisco)
reading of the poem Howl was a moment of validation and unification for many
of the Bay Area antiestablishment artists, the poets eventual prominence gained
its first major boost from the subsequent attempt by the San Francisco police to
block the sale of Howl and Other Poems (1956) on a charge of obscenity. The trial
that followed eventually gained international attention and began Ginsbergs long
battle with censorship.
The poet spent most of the decade previous to the Howl reading in isolation,
virtually unknown, patiently developingwith the help of fellow Beat generation
originals Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, and established poet William Carlos
Williamshis characteristic open, honest, spontaneous, here-and-now, experimental style of poetry. After the Howl reading, Ginsbergs celebrity rose steadily, eventually
making him one of the most recognized poets of the 20th century. Ginsberg used his
celebrity status to forward his causes, giving hundreds of interviews, lectures, and
readings, as well as lending his name to and helping organize numerous protests
and movements, including the 1967 Gathering of the Tribes for a Human Be-In, the
Chicago Festival of Life (across the street from the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and from which emerged the Chicago Seven trials), and the 1978 Rocky
Flats nuclear protests. In 1965, Ginsberg was deported from both Cuba and, shortly
thereafter, Czechoslovakia (where he was crowned May king by students) for discussing homosexuality and government affairs with students and reporters.
Through his poetry and activism, Ginsberg tirelessly defended homosexuality,
the use of certain drugs (LSD, marijuana, and psilocybin) to expand the consciousness, and the need to end the military-industrial complex and its global campaign
against street-level democracy. Along with Howl, key texts, all found in Collected
Poems (1984), are Planet News (1968), which contains poems written from 1961
1963, including Television Was a Baby Crawling Toward That Deathchamber; The
Fall of America (1973), which contains work from 19651971, including Wichita
Vortex Sutra (often cited as his best politically motivated work); and Plutonian Ode
(1982), which is notable for the title work and for Birdbrain and Capitol Air.
The bulk of negative criticism on Ginsbergs literature comes from the Right-leaning critics, conservative Christians (frowning on his antiestablishment mysticism
and eventual Buddhism, and condemning his homosexuality), and Establishment
opinion makers (Time). Conservative cultural critic Norman Podhoretzwho had
a long history of verbal warfare with Ginsberg, and who devotes a chapter to Ginsberg in his book Ex-Friends (1999)claims that the poet is adept at pointing out
the flaws of capitalism and Soviet-style Communism but has little to say toward
concrete solutions. Ginsbergs ultimate legacy may be an unabashed willingness
to shatter conventional thinking and writing in the most public way, not to create

G o l d , M i k e

spectacle in a move complicit with consumer capital but instead to reintroduce the
openness and honesty necessary for human community.
David Leaton

Further Reading
Ball, Gordon. Ginsberg and Revolution. Selected Essays: West Georgia College International
Conference on Representing Revolution 1989. West Georgia International Conference,
1991: 13750.
Ginsberg, Allen, and David Carter, eds. Spontaneous Mind: Selected Interviews 19581996.
New York: HarperCollins, 2001.
Katz, Eliot. Radical Eyes: Political Poetics and the Work of Allen Ginsberg. Unpublished
Dissertation. Rutgers, May 2000.
Schumacher, Michael. Dharma Lion. New York: St. Martins, 1992.

Gold, Mike (18931967)

The son of impoverished Jewish immigrant parents on Manhattans Lower East Side,
Mike Gold would become one of the leading figures in American leftist culture in
the 20th century. Born Itzok Granich, he changed his name during the Red Scare
of 19191920 in an attempt to avoid the persecution that often focused on Jewish immigrants at that time. Inspired early on by anarchism and syndicalism, Gold
became a committed Communist and a leading cultural activist in the Communist
Party. Known for an acerbic style that often led to bitter conflicts with those of whom
he was critical, Gold was nevertheless an influential activist whose editorial work
on journals such as New Masses made him a central figure on the American Left,
especially during the period from the founding of the journal in 1926 through the
mid-1930s, when Golds championing of proletarian literature did much to promote
that phenomenon. Gold was also influential as a columnist for the Daily Worker, to
which he contributed regularly from 1933 until his death. Many of his columns are
reprinted in the volumes Change the World! (1936) and The Hollow Men (1941).
Gold has often been singled out by his critics as an example of dogmatic and
doctrinaire cultural thought. However, though his writing style was unpolished,
Golds own literary production, informed by his strong political commitment and
his own experiences with urban poverty and injustice, was not without merit.
Early in his writing career, he was the author of a number of plays, three of which
were performed by the Provincetown Players during the period from 1916 to
1920. Unquestionably, however, his most important literary work was the novel
Jews without Money (1930), a semiautobiographical portrait of poverty among the
Jewish immigrants on the East Side in the early part of the 20th century. This novel
became an early model for American proletarian writers and continues to gain critical attention and respect more than 70 years after its publication.
M. Keith Booker



Gordimer, Nadine

Further Reading
Bloom, James D. Left Letters: The Culture Wars of Mike Gold and Joseph Freeman. New York:
Columbia UP, 1992.
Folsom, Michael Brewster. The Education of Mike Gold. Proletarian Writers of the Thirties.
Ed. David Madden. Carbondale: Southern Illinois UP, 1968. 22251.
Folsom, Michael Brewster. The Pariah of American Letters. Introduction to Mike Gold: A
Literary Anthology. Ed. Michael Brewster Folsom. New York: International Publishers,
1972. 720.
Gold, Michael. Change the World! New York: International Publishers, 1936.
Gold, Michael. The Hollow Men. New York: International Publishers, 1941.
Pyros, John. Mike Gold: Dean of American Proletarian Writers. New York: Dramatika P, 1979.

G o r d i m e r , Na d i n e ( 1 9 2 3 2 0 1 4 )
Nadine Gordimer was a South African writer of short stories, novels, and essays,
and Nobel laureate in literature for 1991. With a searching intelligence and sustained artistry, her work explored the shifts and turns of life in her countryin
both the apartheid and the postapartheid eras. Gordimer was born in the small
mining town of Springs, to the east of Johannesburg; her father was an immigrant Jewish watchmaker and jeweler from Latvia, while her mother, also Jewish,
came from England. There were divisions in the Gordimer household between her
mother, rather colonial in her preoccupations, and her father, who was old-worldly
and more absorbent of the racial attitudes of South Africa. Gordimer grew up in a
nonreligious ethos, though she attended a convent schoolfairly customary at the
time for those seeking a superior education. She has described herself as a periodic
truant whose physical energy and predilections found their natural outlet in the
veld and on the mine dumps of Springs; her affiliation to the land and landscape of
South Africa has been a feature of her life and writing ever since. When Gordimer
was 10 or 11, her mother took her out of school on the pretext of a mysterious
and quite likely inventedheart ailment. This turned the young Gordimer, as she
has said, into a mimic, performing for her elders in the domestic environment of
her mother; she became a voracious reader (consuming the works of everyone
from Pepys to Burton) and a budding writer. Her first stories were childrens fables
for a local Sunday paper; her first adult story, Come Again Tomorrow, was published when she was 15. Gordimer attended only one year of university and then,
after a period of indecision, committed herself to the life of a writer, gravitating
toward Johannesburg, where she lived for the rest of her life.
Inspired by the work of Eudora Welty and Katherine Mansfield, Gordimer soon
realized that her local South African setting provided legitimate and appropriate
material for her fictionan important step away from the colonial mentality that
defined only Europe as real. It was fiction that led her to politics rather than
the other way around; she was guided, as she put it, by Kafka rather than Marx
(see A Bolter and the Invincible Summer, in The Essential Gesture). Her early
short stories show these first explorations, often detailing the woes and ironies of
relations between masters and servants, though a story such as Is There Nowhere

G o r d i m e r , N a d i n e

Else Where We Can Meet? sets out archetypal Gordimer territoryunmarked

border space where a young white woman and a black man exercise their mutual
fears, needs, and entanglements. Through the 1950s and 1960s, though Gordimer
always maintained a refreshing sense of the nonpolitical in peoples lives, she was
drawn to some of the demanding scenarios of the timea young woman embarking on her first moment of political action (The Smell of Death and Flowers) or
a young black man, his (Some Monday for Sure). Her dominant mode was irony,
and there was always an eye for the nonformulaic depths of experience, whether
personal or political. In due course, a certain taut poetic quality entered in, as
some of her stories, such as A Lion on the Freeway, entertained a quasi-symbolic
mode. Throughout, Gordimers eye for detail was matched by a sinuous and often
sensuous linguistic precision and an intricate syntactic complexity.
Gordimers early novels explored the contours of the world of strangers in
South Africa, particularly the potential and limits of personal relations under the
increasing strains and invasions of apartheid. The Late Bourgeois World (1966)
responded to the political crises of the early 1960s, while A Guest of Honour (1971),
set in an unnamed African country, surveyed the prospects and obligations of the
committed white African. Gordimers middle period, including her extraordinary
trilogy of novelsThe Conservationist (1974), Burgers Daughter (1979), and Julys
People (1981)saw her at her greatest power, creating work that was at once artistically and conceptually profound. The first of these is a poetic and prophetic
masterpiece envisioning an eventual transfer to black power in South Africa; the
second is a probing and compassionate inspection, in the person of the daughter
of a Communist revolutionary, of the place of the white dissident in the wake of
the Soweto Revolt; the third is an examination of the morbid symptoms of the
interregnum in South Africa, when the old is dying and the new cannot be born
(the epigraph to the novel is from Antonio Gramsci). These novels were succeeded
by works such as My Sons Story (1990) and None to Accompany Me (1994), set in
South Africas transition out of apartheid, and then by novels of the postapartheid
period properThe House Gun (1998) and The Pickup (2001). The latter, in an
almost prescient way to the attacks of September 11, 2001, left behind the South
African setting to explore the world of Middle Eastern migrancy in its complex
relations with the West.
Gordimer was a writer first and foremost whose objective was the transformation of experience, yet she also said that art is on the side of the oppressed and
that the essential gesture of the writer is a revolutionary gesture (The Essential
Gesture, in The Essential Gesture). In her essays since the 1950s, she bore witness
to the travails of South Africa, exploring its complexities with a penetrating intelligence and abiding sense of accountability. That sense of accountability was manifest throughout her life, whether in collaborating with black writers in her early
years, working through the challenges from some of those same writers during the
black-consciousness era, or indicating her affiliation to the African National Congress before that was legal. Finding a balance between life and work, addressing
questions of accountability not only in her fictional themes but in the forms of her



G o r k y, M a x i m

writing, there was a luminous clarity to her courage and commitment as both an
artist and a person.
Stephen Clingman

Further Reading
Bazin, Nancy Topping, and Marilyn Dallman Seymour, eds. Conversations with Nadine Gordimer. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 1990.
Clingman, Stephen. The Novels of Nadine Gordimer: History from the Inside. 2nd ed. Amherst:
U of Massachusetts P, 1992.
Cooke, John. The Novels of Nadine Gordimer: Private Lives/Public Landscapes. Baton Rouge:
Louisiana State UP, 1985.
Ettin, Andrew Vogel. Betrayals of the Body Politic: The Literary Commitments of Nadine Gordimer. Charlottesville: U of Virginia P, 1993.
Gordimer, Nadine. The Essential Gesture: Writing Politics and Places. Ed. Stephen Clingman.
New York: Knopf, 1988.
Gordimer, Nadine. A Writer in South Africa. London Magazine (May 1965): 2128.
Head, Dominic. Nadine Gordimer. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994.
JanMohamed, Abdul R. Manichean Aesthetics: The Politics of Literature in Colonial Africa.
Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1983.
King, Bruce, ed. The Later Fiction of Nadine Gordimer. New York: St. Martins, 1993.
Newman, Judie, ed. Nadine Gordimers Burgers Daughter: A Casebook. Oxford: Oxford UP,
Smith, Rowland, ed. Critical Essays on Nadine Gordimer. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1990.

G o r k y, Ma x i m ( 1 8 6 8 1 9 3 6 )
After a difficult childhood and youth, chronicled in an autobiographical trilogy
(Childhood, Among People, My Universities), Gorky achieved relatively rapid success
once he embarked on a literary career. From the late 1890s until his death, he
was renowned not just for his fictionwhere he achieved success as a short-story
writer, novelist, and playwrightbut also for his memoirs and essays. He did not,
however, confine his efforts to writing. Around the turn of the century, he emerged
as the leading figure among the so-called critical realists, writers who tended to
follow the realistic tradition established by the great Russian writers of the 19th
century while exposing the injustices and flaws in the society of their day. Gorkys
extensive editing and publishing efforts at the time helped bring these works to
the attention of the reading public, and his roles as editor and publisher were also
important during the years surrounding the Russian Revolution of 1917 and, after
an interval abroad, during the last years of his life. Finally, and not least important,
Gorky was a political activist who worked for the Bolshevik cause before the revolution and who, despite some strong differences at times with the direction of the
Communist Party, used his connections with the Soviet leaders to assist writers and
other cultural figures under the harsh conditions that followed the revolution.
Born in the Volga city of Nizhny Novgorod as Alexei Maximovich Peshkov, he
adopted the name M. Gorky (the Russian word for bitter) in 1892, when he

G o r k y, M a x i m

published his first story, Makar Chudra. Like the first-person narrators in that and
other tales, Gorky had spent time tramping through southern Russiagoing to the
Ukraine, the Crimea, and the Caucasusgathering the impressions that he was later
to use in his writing. In Chelkash (1894), the first of his stories to appear in a
major journal, he develops the figure of the bosiak, or vagabond. These characters
are not merely wanderers but people who have consciously broken with society, who
have little sympathy with either the indecisiveness of Russias educated elite or the
passivity of the peasantry. In other works, such as Creatures That Once Were Men
(1897) or Twenty-six Men and a Girl (1899), he focuses more on those who are
near or at the bottom of the social order and who struggle, usually unsuccessfully, to
find hope. A similar theme pervades his greatest play, The Lower Depths (1902), set in
a lower-class lodging house, where the mood veers between the promise of a better
life provided by the actions or words of a few characters and the sense of despair that
pervades the everyday existence for most of the figures in the play.
For the most part in his dramatic works, Gorky focused on groups that were
more privileged, attacking the failures of the intelligentsia and of Russias merchant
class. Summerfolk (1904) portrays a wide swath of society, including a writer who
realizes that he has lost touch with the needs of his readers and a lawyer who has
become quite comfortable in his corrupt surroundings. In The Zykovs (19121913),
the father has created a profitable lumber business from which many benefit, but
he is also ruthless toward those around him, most notably his own son. This theme
of generational decline also appears frequently in Gorkys novels, beginning with
Foma Gordeev (1899), in which the father of the eponymous hero has gone from
working on a river barge to owning numerous vessels, while Foma himself lacks
direction and ends up squandering his opportunities in life.
In his fiction, Gorky rarely attempted to portray those who were leading the
struggle for a new social order. Interestingly, the two most notable exceptions were
largely composed while he was in the United States, on a trip that had been planned
to raise money and support for the Bolshevik cause. The play Enemies (1906) highlights the divide between factory workers and owners during a time of unrest. The
men in the factory are all idealistic and hard working, while the upper classes range
from merciless to weak, along with a very few who show genuine sympathy for the
workers. In Mother (19061907), Gorky shows the development of a revolutionary
consciousness on the part of a formerly naive woman who is roused to action by
the arrest of her son on account of his political activities. But these descriptions of
the proletariat are unusual for Gorky; even during the postrevolutionary years, he
tended to return to the bourgeois elements that he had described earlier. Such is the
case with The Life of Klim Samgin (19251936), a four-volume epic still unfinished
at the time of Gorkys death. The novel chronicles the life and the entire era of its
eponymous antihero, starting in the final decades of the 19th century and concluding with the 1917 revolution. One of Gorkys last and best plays, Yegor Bulychev and
Others (1932), takes place in 1917, as the old order is collapsing and as Bulychev, a
well-off merchant dying of cancer, questions the values by which he has lived.
Gorkys personal interest in politics seems to have begun during his teenage years
in Kazan, where he had hoped to enter the university but instead worked at odd
jobs and became connected with radical political circles. In 1898, just as he was



G u i ll n , N i c o l s

becoming famous, he was arrested for his connections with a social democratic (the
future Bolshevik) circle, and other run-ins with authorities over the next several
years followed. A witness to the Bloody Sunday events that sparked the uprisings
of 1905, he was again arrested, and in January 1906, he left Russia on a journey
that carried him to the United States and then to exile on Capri, where he maintained regular contacts with Lenin and other Bolshevik leaders. An amnesty allowed
Gorky to return to Russia seven years later. As the revolution approached and then
occurred, he openly expressed opposition to some of the extreme policies of the
Bolsheviks. Nonetheless, he was able to use his influence to assist writers and other
cultural figures in the years immediately following the revolution, both materially
and by initiating various publishing endeavors. In 1921, he again left Russia, ostensibly for health reasons, returning for visits beginning only in 1928 and then permanently in 1933. During his final years, he wrote numerous essays in support of
the Soviet government, while at the same time, it appears, doing what he could to
help some of those who were threatened by the onset of the Stalinist regime. While
at first Gorky was said to have died of natural causes, the former head of the secret
police and several others were later executed after being accused of murdering him.
In death as in life, Gorky has remained a controversial figure. The cause of his
death remains open, with many believing that Stalin himself had a hand in it. Some
see his late essays as making him an apologist for a brutal regime, while others take a
more nuanced view of his role. Even his literary reputation has fluctuated, particularly
in the former Soviet Union, where his writings are no longer accorded the supreme
status they once held. Nevertheless, none question the genuine achievement of his
best literary worksincluding The Lower Depths, a number of his short stories, and
his autobiographical writings and memoirsas well as the sincerity of the convictions
that led him to write so tellingly about the life he witnessed in the Russia of his day.
Barry P. Scherr
Further Reading
Barratt, Andrew, and Barry P. Scherr, eds. and trans. Maksim Gorky: Selected Letters. Oxford:
Clarendon P, 1997.
Borras, F. M. Maxim Gorky the Writer: An Interpretation. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1967.
Levin, Dan. Stormy Petrel: The Life and Work of Maxim Gorky. New York: Appleton-Century,
Scherr, Barry P. Maxim Gorky. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1988.
Weil, Irwin. Gorky: His Literary Development and Influence on Soviet Intellectual Life. New
York: Random House, 1966.
Yedlin, Tovah. Maxim Gorky: A Political Biography. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1999.

G u i ll n , N i c o l s ( 1 9 0 2 1 9 8 9 )
A career of some 60 years of poetic production has won Nicols Guilln worldwide fame and a place of distinction among Spanish American poets of the 20th
century. On the strength of the perspicacity of his social and political insights, he

G u i ll n , N i c o l s

was always in the vanguard of the Cuban revolutionary process. He gives philosophical breadth to an exceptional range of the facets of that process and, by doing
so, ensures the universal relevance of his work, which has been translated into
more than 30 languages. Loveas motivating force, as observed human aspiration
in sometimes difficult social circumstances, or as experienced in its fulfillment or
in its lossis a powerful factor in his poetry. But whatever his subject might be,
he writes with profound candor and tenacious passion, balanced with the wit,
grace, lively communicativeness, and musicality that are such appealing traits of
the Cuban people. He also writes with serene awareness of poetic achievement in
the Hispanic and Western traditions, an awareness that facilitates his own fertile
This high level of accomplishment, which he extended to his essays and his
journalism, earned him, by acclamation, recognition as Cubas national poet. In
addition, the Cuban government awarded him his countrys highest honor, the
Jos Mart National Order. Great appreciation of his achievement has been shown
outside Cuba as well; honorary degrees were bestowed on him by several universities, including the University of Bordeaux and the University of the West Indies.
Like Pablo Neruda, he was awarded the Lenin Peace Prize by the Soviet Union.
Literary critics and fellow writers in many countries nominated him for the Nobel
Prize for Literature. Guilln was born in Camagey, on July 10, 1902, seven weeks
after the founding of the Republic of Cuba. In 1917, his father, who had served as a
senator and as editor of a local newspaper, was killed by soldiers. It was inevitable
that a poetry would emerge showing the depth of the passion deriving from the
indignation caused by the early loss of his father, his own encounters and those of
black people in general with racial prejudice, and the links between all this and
the febrile national condition. The indignation would be heightened by his recognition of a Cuban heritage of uncompromising struggle against oppression and
injustice, which began with slave rebellions and continued in the arduous quest
for independence.
In his first book of poetry, Motivos de son (Son Motifs, 1930), Guilln brought the
black sector of the population into the national picture by using images of their
real lives and adapting the popular Cuban musical form, the son, for use in an
innovative poetic way, as a vehicle to convey their privations and their aspirations.
That he did this within the concept of patriotism manifested by predecessors such
as the black heroes of the War of Independence, Antonio Maceo and Juan Gualberto Gmez, is made clear by themes he developed throughout his poetry. In his
books up to La paloma de vuelo popular (The Dove of Popular Flight, 1958), he promoted social justice, sovereignty, and independence through revolutionary change.
From Tengo (I Have, 1966) to his last book, Sol de domingo (Sunday Sun, 1982), he
defends the revolution, saluting the changes it has brought.
Guilln also excelled as a love poet, and the depth of the passion in most of his
love poems alerts us to the fact that love is the mainspring of his poetry: love for
his ancestors and their fellow beings, who suffered the unspeakable atrocities of
slavery and, subsequently, the deprivations caused by racial discrimination; love
for the broader Cuban community, which suffered the brutality of colonialism and



G u i ll n , N i c o l s

the humiliations and strictures of neocolonialism. He extends the sympathy internationally to other similar sufferers.
Guilln is acclaimed as his countrys national poet not only because he deals
with the salient aspects of Cubas life but also because he reflects the essential character of his people. As with the long line of Cuban heroesextending from the
16th-century leaders of and participants in slave revolts and continuing through
the 19th-century agitators for independence, including Flix Varela and the heroes
of the independence struggle, such as Jos Mart and Antonio Maceoindignation
is a pronounced and positive quality in Guilln. Indignation is at the root of the
motivation to effect real change, to be uncompromising concerning the will to
oppose colonialism, imperialism, and racism. The capacity for indignation is the
twin of the capacity for love, and it underlies the strength and power of the imagery of Guillns poetry and its connectedness with the poets compatriots, among
whom the spirit of the heroes is widely dispersed.
Keith Ellis
Further Reading
Ellis, Keith. Cubas Nicols Guilln: Poetry and Ideology. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1985.
Williams, Lorna V. Self and Society in the Poetry of Nicols Guilln. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins
UP, 1982.

Ha r l e m R e n a i s s a n c e ( 1 9 1 9 1 9 2 9 )
In the first decades of the 20th century, a number of important national and international political events and social conditions helped bring about the birth of the New
Negro movement, with its marked determination that the old narrative in which black
people in the United States had been situated must be challenged in new ways. There
also arose a New Negro movement in arts and letters, which has been regularly referred
to as the Harlem Renaissanceespecially after John Hope Franklin, in his seminal
history From Slavery to Freedom, used the term in 1947 to describe the arts and literary
activities of the New Negroes. Harlem, with its intense cultural and artistic production,
certainly operated as the representative cultural space of the New Negro. However,
the aptness of the term Harlem Renaissance has been contested, notably in 1955 by
Sterling A. Brown, who was in fact a member of this New Negro literary movement.
The peak activity of the movement occurred in the 1920s, when many of the
significant writers of the era received their first recognition or publication: Sterling
Brown, When de Saints Go Maching Home (1927); Jean Toomer, Cane (1923);
Dorothy West, The Typewriter (1926); Countee Cullen, Color (1925); Nella Larsen, Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929); Georgia Douglas Johnson, The Heart of
a Woman (1918) and Bronze (1922). Some New Negro/Harlem Renaissance writers used modernist as well as traditional literary forms to showcase new content,
while others employed music, colloquial language, and folk traditions in sophisticated ways, demonstrating a literary modernism situated in a New Negro political,
social, and aesthetic consciousness. In so doing, they transformed the American
and African American literary terrain.
Langston Hughes, a key New Negro era writer, discusses the period as a time
when the Negro was in vogue because of the wealthy white patrons supporting
black writers as well as the large numbers of white customers who frequented
clubs and cabarets in Harlem. Hughes, whose interest in ordinary black people was
expanded in the 1930s as he became involved in leftist politics, also observed that
among the ordinary people in Harlem, the Harlem Renaissance as a literary and
arts movement did not exist.
For many, the literature of the New Negro is situated at the turning point into
the 1920s with Max Eastmans publication of Claude McKays poem If We Must
Die in the July 1919 issue of Liberator magazine. Although McKay, who was active
in Communist and Socialist politics during the early part of the 20th century,
later disavowed any connection between this poem and the political events associated with the New Negro in 1919, his poem is consistent with the attitudes of


Harlem Renaissance

the burgeoning New Negro movement, as black people were beginning to revolt
actively against inequitable treatment. This poem and the sentiments that McKay
presents in it represent an aspect of the New Negro attitude of resistance, which
rejected the old posture of servility and submission.
At the other end of the New Negro literary spectrum is uplift literature,
designed to replace negative images of black people with positive representations
of black life for white audiences and positive models of black life for their New
Negro audiences. Among the prominent advocates of uplift literature was Alain
Locke, editor of The New Negro, an anthology of writings by and about black
people. Lockes anthology, published in 1925, repeats the title from a short-lived
(AugustOctober 1919) monthly magazine edited by the radical founder of the
New Negro manhood movement, Hubert Henry Harrison. The literary pieces
in Lockes book raised the profile of the aspiring New Negro artists and writers,
while a number of the essays, including those by Locke and others, argued for a
New Negro artistic and literary culture based on African and African American
folk culture.
W. E. B. Du Bois also was, in the 1920s, a proponent of uplift, although in the
1930s he aligned himself, as did Hughes, even more strongly with left-wing politics. Du Bois and the New Negro novelist and editor Jessie Fauset were the primary
editorial team at the Crisis, the official publication of the NAACP, which was begun
by Du Bois in 1910. In 1920, James Weldon Johnson, author of Gods Trombones
(1927), became the general secretary of the NAACP and contributed his literary
knowledge to its official publishing organ.
The editors of the Crisis and Opportunitythe official publication vehicle of
the Urban League, edited and founded in 1923 by Charles Spurgeon Johnson
with Eric Walrond as his associatesponsored literary contests during the years
19241934. The aforementioned publications, along with Marcus Garveys Negro
World (19181933) and A. Philip Randolph and Chandler Owens The Messenger (19171928)which its labor- and left-influenced founders early on promoted as both the Only Radical Negro Magazine and the Journal of Scientific
Radicalismwere the principal publishing outlets for the New Negro writers,
although many of the writers were published in Liberator, New Masses, The Non,
American Mercury, Atlantic Monthly, and other periodicals, as well as in various
local newspapersprimarily those operated or owned by African Americans.
In 1926, responding to the impetus toward uplift among the prominent New
Negroes, Wallace Thurman, Zora Neale Hurston, Hughes, and others among the
younger participants of the era established their own literary magazine, Fire!! These
writers sought a level of literary freedom that was not afforded them within the
confines of uplift. This literary magazine lasted only one issue, but its contents
included a story by Hurston on domestic abuse and a story by Bruce Nugent that
presents homoerotic themes. These writers sought to present black people as each
individual writer saw them rather than as others wished black people to be or as
they wished the dominant society to view black people.
The literary activities of the New Negro era were curtailed by the crash of the
stock market in 1929 and by the Depression of the 1930s, yet the attitudes and

H av e l , Va cl av

many of the varied aesthetic ideals of the New Negro literary movement continued
to influence African American literature throughout the century.
A. Yemisi Jimoh

Further Reading
Austin, Addell. The Opportunity and Crisis Literary Contests. CLAJ 32 (1988): 23546.
Baker, Houston A., Jr. Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance. Chicago: U of Chicago P,
Brown, Sterling. The New Negro in Literature (19251955). The Harlem Renaissance
19201940: Remembering the Harlem Renaissance. Ed. Cary D. Wintz. New York: Garland, 1996. 20318.
Garber, Eric. A Spectacle in Color: The Lesbian and Gay Subculture of Jazz Age Harlem.
Hidden from History. Ed. Martin B. Duberman et al. New York: NAL, 1989. 31831.
Huggins, Nathan Irvin. Harlem Renaissance. New York: Oxford UP, 1971.
Hughes, Langston. The Big Sea: An Autobiography. 1940. New York: Thunders Mouth, 1986.
Hutchinson, George. The Harlem Renaissance in Black and White. Cambridge, MA: Belknap-Harvard UP, 1995.
James, Winston. Dimensions and Main Currents of Caribbean Radicalism in America:
Hubert Harrison, the African Blood Brotherhood, and the UNIA. Holding Aloft the
Banner of Ethiopia: Caribbean Radicalism in Early Twentieth-Century America. New York:
Verso, 1998. 12284.
Lewis, David Levering. When Harlem Was in Vogue. 1970. New York: Oxford UP, 1981.
Patton, Venetria K., and Maureen Honey, eds. Introduction. Double-Take: A Revisionist
Harlem Renaissance Anthology. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 2001.
Perry, Jeffrey B., ed. A Hubert Harrison Reader. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2001.

Hav e l , Va c lav ( 1 9 3 6 2 0 1 1 )
Czech playwright, dissident writer and human rights philosopher, statesman, president of Czechoslovakia, and first president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel
was born into a prominent business family in Prague during the interwar period of
Czech independence. When Czechoslovakia came under Soviet domination after
1948, Havels bourgeois origins barred him from enrolling in a university. From
1960 to 1968, he worked in Pragues famed Theater on the Balustrade, where his
most important plays were produced. The Garden Party, The Memorandum, Largo
Desolato, and three one-act plays featuring the same hapless intellectual Vanek
(Audience, Unveiling, and Protest) all reveal an apathetic pseudo-reality that can
only be explodedand reconnected to genuine meaningby forcing the audience
to confront loss of meaning in the absurd. After Soviet tanks put an end to the
process of social regeneration and liberation known as the Prague Spring (1968),
Havels plays were banned. Subsequent essays and analyses delineated a philosophy of dissidence that reflected a fundamental critique of 20th-century trends in
both bourgeois and Socialist societies. At the center of Havels analysis is the idea
that something he calls living in truth can rupture the dehumanizing force of



Heinlein, Robert

modern totalitarian and mass consumer societies. According to Havel, living in

truth is as simple as exercising ones individual responsibility and integrity as a
citizen of the planet (not just of one club or country or religion). In the practice
of real life, as Havel experienced it first as a victim of one regime and then as the
political leader of another, living in truth was an unpredictable and demanding
enterprise but one on which his hope for averting the environmental and social
destruction of the future rested. His essay The Power of the Powerless stands
at the center of his thought and as a companion piece to the Charter 77 Human
Rights manifesto, which he coauthored in 1977.
In 1979, Havel was arrested and spent almost four years in prison, where he
recorded his intellectual and more mundane meditations in a series of intricately
structured letters to his wife (Letters to Olga). Havels role as an intellectual and
moral leader in the subterranean spread of Czech opposition culminated in the
Velvet Revolution of 1989 and Havels election to the presidency of a newly independent Czechoslovak nation, a position in which he served until the Czech and
Slovak Federation split into two separate countries, after which Havel served as
first president of the Czech Republic (1993-2003). After leaving office, he became a
supporter of the Green Party. His speeches and addresses as president and as recipient of many international honors comprise a series of essays about the relationship
between politics and spiritual values in the modern world. His most important
writings are edited and translated by Paul Wilson in Open Letters: Selected Writings, 19651990; Summer Meditations; The Art of the Impossible: Politics as Morality in
Practice; and Toward a Civil Society: Selected Speeches and Writings, 19901994.
Yvonne Howell

Further Reading
Goetz-Stakiewicz, Marketa, and Phyllis Carey, eds. Critical Essays on Vaclav Havel. New
York: G. K. Hall, 1999.

Heinlein, Robert (19071988)

Heinlein described having three lives: as a naval officer, a politician, and a writer
of science fiction and fantasyboth for adults and for children. His first career
ended after he attended the Naval Academy and served as an officer in the U.S.
Navy from 1929 to 1934, when he was invalided out with tuberculosis. His second
was shorter still and ended with his 1938 unsuccessful campaign for the California Assembly as a candidate endorsed by Upton Sinclairs progressive EPIC (End
Poverty in California) Democratic Party organization. As a writer of 32 novels and
many short stories, Heinlein found his success as the dean of American science
fiction writers.
In the tradition of science fiction, many of Heinleins stories resemble thought
experiments, a considerable number of which concern a wide range of imagined
governments and political structures. Nevertheless, some attitudes are consistently

H e ll m a n , L i ll i a n

and repeatedly emphasized, especially through normative characters such as Professor Bernardo de la Paz in Heinleins most fully developed political novel The Moon
Is a Harsh Mistress (1966, Hugo Award winner). Throughout his fiction and public
pronouncements, Heinlein stressed the value of minimal government, the ill effects
of government spending (the Socialist disease, as one character puts it) and of
governmental regulations on producing wealth, the value of personal freedom, and
the value of science as a human activity that frees characters. Celebrating the militarys virtues, Heinlein adamantly championed patriotism but opposed conscription; he also opposed any limitations on nuclear testing and was a firm defender
of gun rights. He alienated some conservative readers, however, with his interest in
alternatives to traditional monotheism, the nuclear family, and monogamy. Thus,
the unconventional ideas expressed in Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) made Heinlein a favorite of the 1960s counterculture, while also reportedly providing some of
the inspiration for the killing sprees of Charles Manson and his followers. On the
whole, the political attitudes expressed in Heinleins novels have made him a darling
of the Libertarian Party and gained him a reputation as an extreme right-wingera
reputation enhanced by the rabid anti-Communism of The Puppet Masters (1951)
and the unapologetic militarism of Starship Troopers (1959). Nevertheless, Heinlein
also has a reputation as perhaps the first truly accomplished writer to be devoted
almost exclusively to the writing of science fiction. He and his work have received
extensive critical attention and are the subjects of a dedicated journal (the Heinlein
Journal) and a semischolarly society (the Robert Heinlein Society).
Keith W. Schlegel
Further Reading
Dolman, Everett Carl. Military, Democracy, and the State in Robert A. Heinleins Starship
Troopers. Political Science Fiction. Ed. Donald M. Hassler and Clyde Wilcox. Columbia:
U of South Carolina P, 1997. 196213.
Erisman, Fred. Robert A. Heinleins Primers of Politics. Extrapolation 38.2 (Summer
1997): 94101.
Franklin, H. Bruce. Robert A. Heinlein: America as Science Fiction. New York: Oxford UP,
Panshin, Alexei. Heinlein in Dimension. Chicago: Advent, 1968.

H e ll m a n , L i ll i a n ( 1 9 0 5 1 9 8 4 )
The only child of middle-class Jewish parents in New Orleans, Hellman later became
not only the premier American woman playwright but one of the most politically
engaged playwrights in the history of the American theater. There was little indication of this engagement in her first play, The Childrens Hour (1934), loosely based
on an actual charge of lesbianism between two Scottish schoolteachers made by a
malicious student. Hellmans next play, Days to Come (1936), is less well known
but far more representative of her work as a whole. Set in the Depression in the
midst of a strike at a Midwestern brush factory, it anatomizes industrial relations



H e m i n g way, E r n e s t

and anticipates widespread corruption in the American labor movement nearly a

generation before such corruption became headline news across the United States.
Two plays based on Hellmans own familyThe Little Foxes (1939) and Another
Part of the Forest (1946)present an excoriating view of postbellum Southern capitalism, while Hellman deepened her critique of the American way of life with Watch
on the Rhine (1941) and The Searching Wind (1944). In the earlier play, American
indifference to the onslaught of European Fascism is scrutinized as a German American couple seeks to acquire funds to assist Germans wishing to flee Nazi tyranny.
Ostensibly a diatribe against American appeasement of the Hitler regime, the play
really assails the apolitical nature of American life by offering up a contrasting view
of family life shaped by political events. What is important here is not the struggle
against Fascism but the implicit naivet with which Americans are shown to conduct their lives. This theme is given even wider expression in The Searching Wind, in
which the broad scope of American foreign policy is criticized through the attitude
and conduct of a career diplomat on duty in Italy, then Germany, between the world
wars. His sons clarion indictmentI dont want any more of Fathers mistakes,
because I think they do [the nation] harmcan serve as the underlying epigraph for
most of Hellmans plays. Hellman also produced a number of screenplays, including
somewhat depoliticized adaptations of several of her own plays. Though she was
never formally a member of the Communist Party, her unabashed sympathies for the
Soviet Union led her to script The North Star (1943), one of several pro-Soviet films
to emerge from American studios during World War II. Though such films were
actively encouraged by the American government during the war, The North Star was
a central reason that Hellman was called to testify before the House Un-American
Activities Committee in 1952. There, she refused to testify and defended herself with
the declaration, I cannot cut my conscience to fit this years fashions. Her experiences before the committee (and her subsequent blacklisting from Hollywood) form
the subject matter of Scoundrel Time (1976), the last of her three volumes of memoirs.
James MacDonald
Further Reading
Dick, Bernard F. Hellman in Hollywood. Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 1982.
Estrin, Mark W. Lillian Hellman: Plays, Films, Memoirs. A Reference Guide. Boston: G. K. Hall,
Lederer, Katherine. Lillian Hellman. Boston: Twayne, 1979.
Moody, Richard. Lillian Hellman, Playwright. New York: Pegasus, 1972.
Wright, William. Lillian Hellman: The Image, the Woman. New York: Simon and Schuster,

H e m i n g way, E r n e s t ( 1 8 9 9 1 9 6 1 )
Hemingways feelings toward the tumultuous politics of the first half of the 20th
century were a combination of two significant and often contradictory factors. The
first was his upbringing in a relatively conservative Midwestern family that valued

H e m i n g way, E r n e s t

duty and idealistic service to ones country. The second was his personal experience
during and immediately after World War I. Hemingways service as an ambulance
driver on the Italian front and his journalistic observations in Europe during the
postwar period contributed to a disillusionment with politics that informs such
early novels as The Sun Also Rises (1926) and A Farewell to Arms (1929). Unlike his
friend and contemporary John Dos Passos, Hemingway avoided overt engagement with politics in both his personal life and his writing for nearly 15 years after
the waroften openly scorning activist writers.
In the mid-1930s, however, Hemingway returned to the United States from
self-imposed expatriation, subsequently becoming prominent in support of the republican forces during the Spanish Civil War. He also engaged in debates on domestic
politics, as in a 1935 articleprovocatively entitled Who Murdered the Vets?that
he was commissioned to write by New Masses, a publication that had previously been
outspokenly critical of Hemingways lack of political engagement. This brief piece
chronicled the plight of unemployed veterans, hundreds of whom had been killed in a
hurricane in September 1935, working in Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camps in
the Florida Keys. Hemingway accused the government of direct complicity in the veterans deaths and insinuated that the whole New Deal was just another political sham.
Although Hemingway frequently stated that his support was for the Spanish
Republic generally rather than the ideology of the Communists who were fighting to defend it, he had to fend off charges of Stalinist sympathies from the late
1930s onward because of his deep personal involvement in the Spanish Civil War.
Like Orwell, Hemingway traveled to Spain in 1937 as a war correspondent. Unlike
Orwell, he did not himself take up arms, but he did begin funding a number of
pro-Loyalist causes, including the production of a propaganda film entitled The
Spanish Earth (on which Dos Passos also worked). While in Madrid, he wrote a play
entitled The Fifth Column, a melodrama centering on a group of Loyalist fighters. He
followed this up with a series of short stories about the civil war (these were posthumously collected in a single volume along with The Fifth Column), all of which
led prominent leftist critics such as Mike Gold and Granville Hicks to attribute
a newfound political consciousness to Hemingway. Such attitudes were quickly
undermined when Hemingway published For Whom the Bell Tolls in 1940. Though
generally still sympathetic to individual Loyalist soldiers, Hemingway heaps scorn
on the tactics and pettiness of the ideologues he saw leading the anti-Fascist forces.
The novel is more of a tribute to individuals willing to sacrifice their lives for liberty
than a statement of affinity with any particular political ideology. Though Hemingway continued his anti-Fascist journalism throughout World War II, his direct
engagement with politics waned considerably after 1939 and remained, as Stephen
Cooper wrote, a subordinate, although often important and interesting, subject.
Derek C. Maus

Further Reading
Baker, Carlos. Ernest Hemingway: A Life Story. New York: Scribner, 1969.



H e r n a n d e z , A m a d o V.

Cooper, Stephen. The Politics of Ernest Hemingway. Ann Arbor, MI: UMI Research, 1987.
Hemingway, Ernest. Who Murdered the Vets? New Masses 16 (September 1935): 910.
Meyers, Jeffrey. Hemingway: A Biography. New York: Harper and Row, 1985.
Reynolds, Michael S. The Young Hemingway. New York: Basil Blackwell, 1986.

H e r n a n d e z , A m a d o V. ( 1 9 0 3 1 9 7 0 )
By general consensus, Hernandez is the most serviceable Filipino revolutionary
artist of the 20th century. His poetry, fiction, and plays in Filipino (the national language of 80 million Filipinos) continue to inspire the popular struggle for national
democracy and genuine independence against U.S. imperialism.
Born in Tondo, Manila, on September 13, 1903, Hernandez began his career
in journalism in the 1920s when the initial massive Filipino resistance against
U.S. military rule had declined. He became editor of the Manila daily Mabuhay
from 1932 to 1934. In 1939, he won the Philippine Commonwealth Award for
a nationalist historical epic, Pilipinas; in 1940, his collection of mainly traditional
poems, Kayumanggi, won a Commonwealth Award. During the Japanese occupation of the Philippines (19421945), Hernandez served as an intelligence officer
for the underground guerilla resistance, an experience reflected in his major novel
of neocolonial dependency and revolt, Mga Ibong Mandaragit.
After the war, Hernandez assumed the role of public intellectual. He organized
the Philippine Newspaper Guild in 1945, and he spoke out on national issues as
an elected councilor of Manila in 19451946 and 19481951. It was during his
presidency of the Congress of Labor Organizations (1947)the largest federation of militant trade unions in the countrythat Hernandez graduated from the
romantic reformism of his early years to become a national-democratic militant.
Meanwhile, the establishment of a U.S. neocolony in the Republic of the Philippines in 1946 extended the Cold War into the repression of local nationalist, progressive movements. It intensified the feudal landlord exploitation of the peasantry
and reinforced the impoverishment of workers and middle strata, leading to the
Communist-led Huk uprising in the late 1940s and early 1950s. An allegorical
representation of the sociopolitical crisis of the country from the 1930s up to the
1950s can be found in Hernandezs realistic novel Luha ng Buwaya and his epic
poem of class struggle Bayang Malaya, for which he received the prestigious Balagtas Memorial Award.
Owing to his anti-imperialist work, Hernandez was arrested on January 26,
1951, and accused of complicity with the Huk uprising. While imprisoned in various military camps for five years and six months, Hernandez wrote the pedagogical
drama Muntinlupa and most of the satiric, agitational poems in Isang Dipang Langit.
His singular achievement is what might be called the invention of the Filipino
concrete universalthe dialectical representation of socially typical situations
that project the contradictions of ordinary life in a neocolonial formation, with its
peculiar idioms and idiosyncratic nuances. Stories like Langaw Sa Isang Basong
Gatas (see San Juan, Introduction) and poems like Mga Muog ng Uri, Bartolina,
Ang Dalaw, and Kung Tuyo na ang Luha Mo exemplify this dialectical poetics

H e r n n d e z , M i g u e l

in the service of what Mao Zedong calls in the Yenan Forum on Literature and Art
the twin tasks of partisan art: the uplifting of standards and the popularization of
revolutionary ideas.
From 1956 to 1960, Hernandez wrote numerous stories under various pseudonyms for the leading weekly Liwayway; he also wrote columns for the daily Taliba
and edited the radical newspapers Ang Makabayan (19561958) and Ang Masa
(19671970). But it was his participation in the Afro-Asian Writers Emergency
Conference in Beijing, China, in JuneJuly 1966, followed by his active intervention in the International War Crimes Tribunal (organized by Bertrand Russell,
Jean-Paul Sartre, and others) in November 1966, that demonstrated Hernandezs
renewed commitment to the advance of the internationalist struggle against global
capitalism. His numerous honors culminated in the Republic Cultural Heritage
Award (1962) and the National Artist Award, given posthumously in 1973a recognition of his lifelong service to the cause of liberatory poetics and social justice.
Up to the day (March 24, 1970) he died, Hernandez was involved as a leading
protagonist in mass rallies both against imperialism, feudalism, and bureaucratic
capitalism, and for democratic socialism and national independence.
Epifanio San Juan Jr.
Further Reading
Malay, Rosario S. Mga Ibong Mandaragit and the Second Propaganda Movement. General
Education Journal 17 (19691970): 10717.
San Juan, E., Jr. Ang Sining ng Tula. Quezon City: Alemar-Phoenix Publishing House, 1975.
San Juan, E., Jr. Introduction to Modern Pilipino Literature. New York: Twayne, 1974.
San Juan, E., Jr. Only by Struggle: Reflections on Philippine Culture, Politics and Society. Quezon City: Giraffe Books, 2002.
San Juan, E., Jr. Toward a Peoples Literature. Quezon City: U of the Philippines P, 1984.

Hernndez, Miguel (19101942)

Acclaimed as one of the greatest Spanish poets of all time, Miguel Hernndez is
also one of the most important literary and political icons of 20th-century Spain.
Born into a peasant family in the village of Orihuela, in the eastern province of
Alicante, he was forced to abandon his formal schooling at the age of 15 in order
to join his father in the rearing of cattle. He pursued his own education by reading
classic poets and by the age of 20 had published his first poems locally. Despite his
humble origins and his lack of formal education, Hernndez wrote his early poetry
under the influence of the Spanish classicism of the golden age, a deep Catholic
feeling, and a taste for classic religious drama.
Soon after the proclamation of the Second Republic in 1931, Hernndez started
a series of journeys to Madrid, where he came into contact with some of the leading
members of the so-called Generation of 1927, including Rafael Alberti, Federico
Garca Lorca, Pedro Salinas, and Vicente Aleixandre. He borrowed from them a
playful infatuation with the classic poet Luis de Gngora, together with a move



Himes, Chester

toward surrealist aesthetics. More importantly, life in the capital opened Hernndez up to a greater social and political awareness, leading him toward a political,
intellectual, and emotional commitment he would keep for the rest of his life.
After the first of these trips, and while temporarily back in Orihuela, he published his first book, Perito en lunas (An expert on moons, 1933), in which his early
and recent influences came to the fore. A few years later, in El rayo que no cesa (The
unending lightning, 1936), he revealed his deep obsession with love, life, and death,
all while foregrounding a passionate sense of tragedy and producing a poetic style
that kept him firmly attached to the land and to the physical worlda purely original style that is recognized today as hernandiano.
Soon after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (19361939), Hernndez
joined the Fifth Regiment of the Popular Republican Army as a volunteer, and was
made cultural commissar of the battalion El Campesino. He combined his duties
as a soldier and as a commissar with his work as a poet, participating actively in the
creation of the landmark Romancero de Guerra (War poetry)a body of poetry written by professional poets, soldiers, and workers so that it could be recited on the
front lines, written and distributed in leaflets and postcards, broadcast by radio,
or published in improvised newsletters and magazines. His landmark Vientos del
Pueblo (Winds of the people, 1937) is one of the best examples of war poetry, singing
to the courage of a people in arms while making explicit the commitment of poets
and intellectuals to the victory of the people. No one but Hernndez, the peasant
poet, could embody the union of the intellectuals and the people and symbolize
the quasi-mythical status this union was given during the Spanish Civil War.
After the end of the war, Hernndez was taken to prison and sentenced to death,
though his punishment was later commuted to 30 years. While in jail, he wrote
his last book of poems, Cancionero y romancero de ausencias (A songbook of absences,
1940), and died of tuberculosis two years later, at the age of 31. Hernndez was
reclaimed both as a political icon and as a poet by the young generations who led
the transition to democracy in Spain after 1975. For them, the poet was the best
symbol of the purest social and political commitment, as exercised by a man who
was truly of the people and who committed his intellect and his heart to the cause
of social justice, political freedom, and the representation of the dispossessed.
Mayte Gmez
Further Reading
Nichols, Geraldine Cleary. Miguel Hernndez. Boston: Twayne, 1978.

Himes, Chester (19091984)

The son of an African American teacher of industrial arts in primarily black institutions in the South, Himes began writing short fiction and articles while incarcerated for armed robbery from 1928 to 1936 in the Ohio state prison system.
His first published novel, If He Hollers Let Him Go, appeared in 1945 and was

H i m e s , C h e s t e r

prompted by the discrimination he experienced working in the defense plants in

California during World War II. By the late 1940s, Himes was thoroughly disillusioned about the possibilities of American society due to his ongoing poverty and
the treatment he received as a black man. Increasingly inspired by the writing of
Richard Wright, Himes published in rapid succession a series of semiautobiographical protest novelsLonely Crusade (1947), Cast the First Stone (1952), The
Third Generation (1954), and The Primitive (1955)which made him one of the
more celebrated black writers in America.
In 1953, Himes moved to Europe, living first in Paris, where he associated with
the expatriate Negro community. Except for a few brief visits to the United States,
Himes remained abroad for the rest of his life, finally settling in Spain, where he
died in 1984. For the French publishing house Gallimards Srie Noire, he produced a series of detective novels featuring two black police detectives, Coffin Ed
Johnson and Grave Digger Jones. Toward the end of his life, he wrote a two-volume
autobiography, which if not wholly accurate about his life is nevertheless engaging
as a testament of the survival of a black artist struggling to make his voice heard.
Himess Harlem novels deal with the poverty, discrimination, and exploitation
experienced by those living in New York Citys African American neighborhoods,
and remain his most popular works of fiction. However, Himess reputation as an
author of angry protest novels was established in his earlier fiction, in which he
created many-faceted black characters and reflected the ambivalence of living in
an American society full of contradictions and insecurities. Unlike Wright, Himes
never belonged to any left-wing political parties, although he did see himself as
Wrights successor in the fight against black oppression. He never formulated a
doctrine or proclaimed any political agenda for remedying these wrongs, but using
his own experiences as a model, he fashioned in his impassioned prose a clear
indictment against American society for its discriminatory treatment of its black
citizens. Through his writing, Himes struggled to come to grips with the racist
American society into which he was born and lived, and to realize his place in that
society as a black man and an artist.
Charles L. P. Silet
Further Reading
Fabre, Michel, and Robert Skinner, eds. Conversations with Chester Himes. Jackson: UP of
Mississippi, 1995.
Lundquist, James. Chester Himes. New York: Ungar, 1976.
Margolies, Edward, and Michel Fabre. The Several Lives of Chester Himes. Jackson: UP of
Mississippi, 1997.
Milliken, Stephen F. Chester Himes: A Critical Appraisal. Columbia: U of Missouri P, 1976.
Sallis, James. Chester Himes: A Life. New York: Walker and Co., 2001.
Silet, Charles L. P., ed. The Critical Response to Chester Himes. Westport, CT: Greenwood,
Skinner, Robert E. Two Guns from Harlem: The Detective Fiction of Chester Himes. Bowling
Green, OH: Bowling Green State U Popular P, 1989.



H o l o c a u s t L i t e r at u r e

H o l o c a u s t L i t e r at u r e
The always-powerful stories of individuals affected by the collapse of society into
war have acquired an unparalleled poignancy in the literature of the Holocaust.
So unprecedented was the assault on human values by Nazi Germany and its supporters in the systematic persecution and attempted destruction of whole peoples
in concentration and death camps during the dark period between 1933 and 1945
that influential critics such as George Steiner have proclaimed it the end of culture.
Art, as the supreme articulation of what it means to be human, must, by this argument, stand mute in the face of mans most inhuman chapter. And literature, to the
extent that it attempts to render the Holocaust aesthetically, must inevitably debase
art or at least call into question those principles of aesthetics on which our Western
culture is founded. To write poetry after Auschwitz, Theodor Adorno famously
mused, would be barbaric.
Despite these dicta, a slow trickle of memoirs, diaries, and autobiographical
narratives has grown into a torrent of fiction, nonfiction, poetry, drama, television
melodrama, and film that seems increasingly attractive year after year to popular
and serious artists alike. This seems nowhere more clear than in America, where
films such as Steven Spielbergs Schindlers List, Roberto Benignis Life Is Beautiful,
and Roman Polanskis The Pianist have received multiple Academy Awards in the
past decade. In elite literary circles, this influence is equally palpable, as seen by
the frequency with which authors drawn to Holocaust themes have received the
Nobel Prize for Literature (eight times since the prizesuspended between 1939
and 1944was resumed). The works of these authors, from Albert Camus in 1957
to Nelly Sachs in 1966 to Imre Kertsz in 2002, not only demonstrate that the
Holocaust can be approached in literature but contribute to a growing consensus
that it must if literature is to be more than an ornament in a cultured life.
The moral imperative to teach and learn about the Holocaust, or Shoah, is felt
and met in extraliterary dimensions as well, most notably in the proliferation
of Holocaust memorials, museums, and days of remembrance in North America, Europe, and Israel. Specifically in literature, this imperative has traditionally
been met by the introduction of key texts to young readers in school, and then
more recently by the creation of dedicated courses on the literature of the Holocaust in college and university curricula. The most widely used of these texts is
Anne Franks The Diary of a Young Girl, first published in Holland in 1947, then
in English translation in 1952. Annes confessional diary of the years spent hiding
in the secret annexe of her fathers Amsterdam factory is often paired with Elie
Wiesels haunting story of his own deportation and nightmare pilgrimage through
Auschwitz and Buchenwald, Night (translated into English in 1960). Together,
these accounts introduce readers to most of the themes that resonate through
memoir after memoir: the interruption of adolescence, the rupture of the family,
Pan-European anti-Semitism, the power (or impotence) of faith, survivor guilt,
resistance, and the courage of those who risked their lives for others.
These themes and dozens of others are developed in a corpus that has become
huge, sometimes contradictory, and always complex. The compendium Holocaust

H u g h e s , L a n g s t o n

Literature: An Encyclopedia of Writers and Their Work introduces over 300 authors
from countries in North and South America, Europe, and Israel. While most of
these are first-generation writerstheir stories driven by the credibility of personal experiencenew work is increasingly coming from the second, and even
the third, generation. As the events of this freighted chapter grow more remote in
historical terms, the challenge to literature is to remain responsive to the mandate
of memoryto keep the lessons fresh for new generations of readers and viewers,
and to do so without succumbing to what Art Spiegelman (author of the graphic
novel Maus) calls holokitsch.
Mark E. Cory

Further Reading
Adorno, Theodor W. Engagement. Noten zur Literatur. Vol. 3. Frankfurt: Suhrkamp,
Bloom, Harold, ed. Literature of the Holocaust. Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2004.
Kremer, Lillian S. Womens Holocaust Writing. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1999.
Kremer, Lillian S., ed. Holocaust Literature: An Encyclopedia of Writers and Their Work. New
York: Routledge, 2003.
Langer, Lawrence. The Holocaust and the Literary Imagination. New Haven: Yale UP, 1975.
Rosenfeld, Alvin. A Double Dying: Reflections on Holocaust Literature. Bloomington: Indiana
UP, 1980.
Skloot, Robert. The Darkness We Carry: The Drama of the Holocaust. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1988.
Steiner, George. In Bluebeards Castle. New York: Atheneum, 1971.
Steiner, George. Language and Silence: Essays on Language, Literature, and the Inhuman. New
York: Atheneum, 1967.

Hughes, Langston (19021967)

Born James Mercer Langston Hughes in Joplin, Missouri, Hughes is best known
for accessible, evocative, oft-anthologized poems such as Harlem, I, Too, and
Theme for English B. He was an enormously prolific, versatile writer, producing
volumes of poems and short fiction, two novels, plays, opera libretti and musical plays, translations, a screenplay and television scripts, works for children and
young adults, two autobiographies, and edited anthologies. His Collected Works
run to 16 volumes.
Hughes was, in one sense, a political writer almost from the beginning because of
his affinity for working people and his awareness of the plight of African Americans.
His essay The Negro Artist and the Racial Mountain (1926) urges young black
writers to write about, to, and for African Americans instead of trying to adhere to
white middle-class aesthetic strictures. A participant in the Harlem Renaissance
of the 1920s, Hughes knew W. E. B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, and other renaissance
architects. He embraced the culture of the blues and had a lifelong love of Harlem,



H u x l e y, Al d o u s

but he was also an inveterate traveler, who developed a keen sense of global politics. In 1940, Hughes collaborated with James P. Johnson (composer of the song
Charleston) on a blues opera about the labor movement, De Orgnizer. Throughout his career, he published in politically attuned magazines, including the Crisis,
Opportunity, the Messenger, Fire!!, New Masses, and the Chicago Defender. In the
1930s, he produced unabashedly Marxist-influenced poems and drama. He wrote
about and helped rally support for the Scottsboro Boyseight black youths whose
false arrest, unfair trial, and conviction for rape in Alabama (1931) drew national
attention. Hughes also covered the Spanish Civil War for the Baltimore Afro-American newspaper (1937). Although he drifted from Marxist thought and wrote in
support of U.S. involvement in World War II, Hughess leftist politics caused him
to be summoned to appear before Senator Joseph McCarthys Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in 1953; Hughes defended his views but mentioned no
other individuals. He never lost his affinity for working people, nor did he relent in
his critique of American racism. The last volume of poems published in his lifetime
was The Panther and the Lash (1967), with reference to the Black Panther Party, and
the last poem he published before his death was The Backlash Blues, referring to
the reaction against advances in protecting the civil rights of African Americans.
Throughout his writingspublished over five decadesreaders will encounter
critiques of capitalism, racism, the abuse of women, lynching, Jim Crow laws,
restrictive real-estate covenants, colonialism, Fascism, and most especially the contrast between American democratic ideals and Americas problems with racism and
economic inequity. Hughess reputation has continued to grow since his death.
Hans Ostrom
Further Reading
Berry, Faith, ed., Good Morning Revolution: Uncollected Writings of Social Protest by Langston
Hughes. New York: Citadel P, 1973.
De Santis, Christopher. Langston Hughes and the Chicago Defender: Essays on Race, Politics,
and Culture, 194262. U of Illinois P, 1995.
Ostrom, Hans. A Langston Hughes Encyclopedia. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2002.
Rampersad, Arnold. The Life of Langston Hughes. 2 vols. New York: Oxford UP, 1986, 1988.

H u x l e y, A l d o u s ( 1 8 9 4 1 9 6 3 )
Aldous Huxley was born into a family of prominent British intellectuals in Godalming, Surrey, on July 26, 1894. His grandfather was Thomas Henry Huxley, a physiologist and close collaborator of Charles Darwin, and his granduncle was Matthew
Arnold, the Victorian poet. Leonard Huxley, Aldouss father, was the editor of a
literary magazine, the Cornhill, but his sons enjoyed even greater success. Aldous
became a renowned novelist and essayist; Julian, Aldouss elder brother, became
an influential biologist, knighted by the queen; and Andrew, Aldouss half brother,
won the Nobel Prize in Physiology.

H u x l e y, Al d o u s

Aldous Huxley attended Eton and Balliol College, Oxford, where he had hoped
to study science, but after a severe eye infection robbed him of half his eyesight,
he settled on a literary career. In 1919, he became a columnist for the London
Athenaeum, and in 1921, he published a short novel, Crome Yellow, which became
an immediate sensation. Now able to support himself through writing, Huxley
traveled around the world and wrote several cynical and satirical novels, including
his most important, Point Counterpoint (1928). During this period, he made friends
with D. H. Lawrence, and the two men remained close until Lawrences untimely
death in 1931. Together they complained of the moral and spiritual destitution
of the Western world and hoped to find new foundations for meaning and values to replace those eroded by the scientific and industrial revolutions. Aldous,
specifically, worried that if the grounds of human purpose were reduced to what
science can quantify, then life becomes a search for only comfort and pleasure.
Aldous found this vulgar, and in Brave New World (1931), he presented a cautionary tale against such a possible futureand a satire of what he believed was
already happening.
In 1937, Huxley immigrated to the United States, accompanied by his close
friend and fellow writer Gerald Heard. Heards interest in Asian mysticism was
taken up by Huxley, and together they saw in the ideal of spiritual enlightenment
and self-actualization the possible cure for the vacuity and materialism of modern
society. This interest in mysticism culminated in The Perennial Philosophy (1945),
outlining Huxleys view of a primordial religion underlying all the worlds wisdom
During the 1950s, Huxley was a columnist for Esquire magazine, writing important early warnings on the dangers of population growth and environmental degradation. From 1959 to 1963, he was a visiting professor at several institutions,
including Berkeley and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, both of which
gave him honorary doctoral degrees. For his 11 novels, Huxley received important
literary awards, but he wrote nearly 50 books altogether; today he is remembered
for his social criticism and moral philosophy as much as for his literary output.
He died of throat cancer on November 22, 1963the day President Kennedy was
Dana Sawyer
Further Reading
Bedford, Sybille. Aldous Huxley. New York: Harper and Row, 1974.
Booker, M. Keith, ed. Critical Insights: Brave New World. Amenia, NY: Grey House, 2014.
Dunaway, David King. Huxley in Hollywood. New York: Harper and Row, 1989.
Huxley, Laura Archera. This Timeless Moment. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1968.
Sawyer, Dana. Aldous Huxley: A Biography. New York: Crossroad Publishing, 2002.
Smith, Grover, ed. The Letters of Aldous Huxley. New York: Harper and Row, 1969.


A Latin American literary and artistic movement, mainly of the early 20th century,
Indigenismo addressed the problems of the indigenous peoples, their contribution
to the national cultures, and their integration into the modern nation-state. This
movement corresponded to the social and agrarian reforms implemented in the
region, such as the postrevolutionary government of Lzaro Crdenas in Mexico
(19341940) and the Socialist APRA (Alianza Popular Revolucionaria Americana/
Popular American Revolutionary Alliance) movement in Peru.
Indigenist writers such as Peruvian Jos Carlos Maritegui expressly sought to
distance themselves from both the savage image and the exotic, idealized image of the
Indian produced by Europeans and Creoles (Europeans born in America), scientific
travelers, romantic writers, and others since the turn of the 16th century. Instead,
indigenist writers addressed the problems of contemporary indigenous societies and
sought the political involvement of its readers in the cause. Indigenist writers like the
Ecuadorian Jorge Icaza or the Guatemalan Miguel Angel Asturias were mainly urban
intellectualsCreoles and mestizos (those of mixed blood) whose view of indigenous
society was mainly from the outside and from the vantage point of the state and the
hegemonic society. In other words, indigenismos assimilation politics basically tended
to offer no alternative to the framework of the nation-state and the telos of modernity.
Viewed in a broader sense, indigenista literature can range from the colonial writings of Bishop Fray Bartolom de las Casas (14741566) and el Inca Garcilaso (1539
1616) to the revolutionary communiqus of Sub Commandant Marcos in Chiapas,
Mexico, in the 1990s. Manuel Gonzlez Pradas Discurso en el Politeama (Politeama
Hall Lecture, 1888) and Clorinda Matto de Turners novel trilogy Aves sin nido (Birds
without a Nest, 1889), Indole (1891), and Herencia (1895) are some classical examples
of early indigenismo. Other indigenista works are Raza de bronce (1919) by Alcides
Arguedas, El mundo es ancho y ajeno (Broad and Alien Is the World, 1941) by Ciro Alegra,
Yawar fiesta (1941) and Los ros profundos (Deep Rivers, 1961) by Jos Mara Arguedas,
and Baln Cann (The Nine Guardians, 1957) and Oficio de tinieblas (1962) by Rosario
Castellanos. Indigenismo in other media include the murals of Jos Orozco, Diego
Rivera, and David Alfaro Siqueiros in Mexico; in film, an illustrative example is Jorge
Sanjinsneorealist work Yawar Mallku (Blood of the Condor, 1969).
In contrast to indigenismo, in Latin America there are Indianist and indigenous
literatures. Indianism is the idealized view of indigenous peoples, such as Jos
Len Meras Cumand (1871) and Manuel de Jess Galvns Enriquillo (The Cross
and the Sword, 1882). Colonialism did not erase indigenous literatures completely,


I n t e r n at i o n a l Li t e r at u r e

and there are a number of extant works, such as the Mayan Popol Vuh. In the late
20th century, from numerous cultural revitalization movements across the Americas started to emerge a growing corpus of indigenous literatures written by indigenous writers themselvessome in Amerindian languages, such as the 15-volume
collection Letras mayas contemporneas, edited by Carlos Montemayor in Mexico.
Luis Fernando Restrepo
Further Reading
Cornejo Polar, Antonio. Escribir en el aire. Lima: Horizonte, 1994.
Foster, David William. Bibliografa del indigenismo hispanoamericano. In a special issue of
Revista iberoamericana 50.127 (1984): 587620.
Lienhard, Martin. La voz y su huella. Hanover, NH: Ediciones del Norte, 1990.
Moraa, Mabel, ed. Indigenismo hacia el final del milenio. Pittsburgh, PA: Instituto Internacional de Literatura, 1998.
Prieto, Ren. The Literature of Indigenismo. Cambridge History of Latin American Literature. Vol. 2. Ed. Roberto Gonzlez Echeverra and Enrique Pupo Walker. Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 1996. 13863.
Rabasa, Jos. Pre-Columbian Pasts and Mexican Presents in Mexican History. Colonialism
Past and Present. Ed. Alvaro Felix Bolaos and Gustavo Verdesio. Albany, NY: SUNY P,
2002. 5178.

I n t e r n at i o n a l Li t e r at u r e
International Literature was a highly influential monthly cultural journal published
from 1932 through 1945 as the official organ of the International Union of Revolutionary Writersan organization sponsored by the Comintern. Separately published in English, Russian, French, and German editions, International Literature
contained a variety of materials that made it a central locus for leftist debates about
cultural issues during the years of its publication. In addition to contemporary
statements about literature and culture, the journal also included such content as
translations of some of the important writings of Marx and Engels on art and literature. While the journal was intended, among other things, to give guidance to
committed leftist writers, the lively debates contained within the pages of International Literature make clear the inaccuracy of the commonly held notion of a single,
officially enforced Communist Party line on matters of literature and culture.
International Literature continued the earlier journal Literature of the World Revolution. Beginning in 1946, International Literature was succeeded by Soviet Literature, which continued publication until 1990.
M. Keith Booker
Further Reading
Foley, Barbara. Radical Representations: Politics and Form in U.S. Proletarian Fiction, 1929
1941. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1993.

I r i s h L i t e r at u r e

Murphy, James F. The Proletarian Moment: The Controversy over Leftism in Literature. Urbana:
U of Illinois P, 1991.

I r i s h L i t e r at u r e
Irish Literature of the 20th century represents an attempt to come to terms with the
nationalist discourses that had dominated the islands cultural imagination during
the modern era. The key figure here is the writer and activist W. B. Yeats, who over
the course of a long and prolific career was successful in his bid to place issues of
national identity and ethnic inheritance at the heart of Irish literary discourse. To
the degree that it engages with these issues, all subsequent Irish writing may be
described as in some sense post- or sub-Yeatsian.
In common with many modernist writers of the earlier 20th century (Ezra
Pound and T. S. Eliot may be the most obvious examples), Yeatss vision was
clearly animated by right-wing perspectives. As a number of critics have pointed
out, however, most of the writers who make up the pantheon of modern Irish
literature professed Socialist sympathies that were at odds with Yeatss authoritarianism, and which they deployed in various ways to mitigate his influence. While
some (Wilde, Shaw, and Synge, for example) disdained Yeatss example on a variety
of philosophical-aesthetic grounds, others (including OCasey, Behan, and a number of minor writers such as Liam OFlaherty) had a much more politicized sense
of the limitations of Irish nationalisma discourse that, in line with classic Marxian theory (as professed by James Connolly, one of the leaders of the 1916 Easter
Rising), they perceived as a reactionary bourgeois program precipitated during the
latter half of the 18th century by the economic limitations of the ancien rgime.
The most sustained challenge to Yeatss dominance, however, was provided by
James Joyce. Some 17 years the younger, Joyce was (among other things) a modernizing internationalist whose disdain for traditional forms of authorityespecially
Catholicism and nationalismmade him a hero of the 20th-century liberal intelligentsia but left him more or less entirely alienated from his Irish contemporaries.
Joyces regard for Ireland was no less sincere than Yeatss, but in books such as
Dubliners (1914) and Ulysses (1922), his support was filtered through a merciless deconstruction of revolutionary rhetoric and nationalist bad faith. Insofar as
modern Ireland has evolved into an increasingly secular, postnationalist formation,
Joyces anti-Yeatsian vision remains seminal. Much of the force of Joyces critique
of Ireland was lost, however, when the study of Irish literature became dominated
after mid-century by Anglo-American critics and theorists for whom Irish literature was political to the extent that it articulated (or not) a sense of national
identity defined in terms of certain stereotypical values and attributes.
This situation was reinforced with the advent of the so-called Troubles in
Northern Ireland toward the end of the 1960s, a development widely understood
(even by Marxists) as a struggle between communities that could be identified with
reference to competing nation-states (Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland). A
recognizable, pan-generic Troubles literature began to emerge, linked to earlier
articulations of Irelands troubled history but oriented toward the exigencies of the
current conflict. The issues faced by the writer in the face of politically motivated



I r i s h L i t e r at u r e

violenceeven those writers who refuse to engage with itare perhaps most fully
explored in the work of the Nobel Prizewinning poet Seamus Heaney.
The nationalistically determined model of Irelands literary history persisted
until a range of new cultural theories and concerns began to impact on the study
of Irish writing in the latter decades of the century. As the Troubles began to rage
in Northern Ireland, the equation of identity with nationality or ethnicity began to
come under pressure from feminists. The debate came to a head with the appearance of The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (1991), a massive, three-volume
undertaking edited by writer-critic Seamus Deane. The controversysparked by
what feminists regarded as the patriarchal and masculinist assumptions informing
the projectresulted in the commissioning and publication of two more volumes
dedicated to womens contributions to the history of Irish writing.
In the meantime, nationalism as an analytical paradigm was overtaken by a
growing emphasis on postcolonial literature and politics in literary studies.
Again, this new turn has generated intense controversy, as critics and theorists have
debated widely as to the political provenance of colonialism as a critical model,
and its potential for the analysis of Irish culture. This debate has cross-fertilized
with two related issues: historical revisionism and the Irish diaspora. With regard
to the first, postcolonialism has been dismissed as inappropriate by those who
claim that Ireland was never a colony in any meaningful sense of the term, but also
by those who claim that treatment of Irish culture within the context of postcolonialism is part of a wider revisionist front determined to eradicate the nationalist
struggle from Irish history. With regard to the second, the question of Irish identity
has been much influenced by the recognition of an enormous Irish diasporain
some accounts, upwards of 40 millionin various parts of the world, and by the
growing realization that a great deal of what counts as Irish activity (including
writing and other cultural pursuits) actually takes place at a significant geographical remove from the motherland.
Perhaps the greatest challenge to established discourses of Irish culture, however, has emerged in recent years in the wave of immigration the island has
experienced in the wake of its economic success (the so-called Celtic Tiger). Traditionally disposed to consider itself an exotic, romantic other vis--vis dominant
Anglo-American culture, Irish society has not responded particularly well to the
appearance of economic migrants and political refugees, a development all the
more questionable when the islands history as one of the most energetic modern
exporters of people is considered.
Like the best of their predecessors, the best contemporary Irish writers have
taken up the challenge of engaging with all the issues mentioned here. Working
in a range of genres and styles, contemporary writers such as John Banville, Eavan
Boland, Marina Carr, Brian Friel, John McGahern, and Paul Muldoon continue to
produce writing that manages to reflect the wider social and political landscape
while at the same time questioning the missionand in certain instances the possibilityof a political literature.
Gerry Smyth

I s h e r w o o d , C h r i s t o p h e r

Further Reading
Berresford Ellis, Peter. A History of the Irish Working Class. 1972. London: Pluto P, 1996.
Deane, Seamus. A Short History of Irish Literature. London: Hutchinson, 1986.
Kiberd, Declan. Inventing Ireland: The Literature of the Modern Nation. London: Jonathan
Cape, 1995.
Lloyd, David. Anomalous States: Irish Writing and the Post-Colonial Moment. Dublin: The
Lilliput P, 1993.
Smyth, Gerry. Decolonisation and Criticism: The Construction of Irish Literature. London:
Pluto P, 1998.

Isherwood, Christopher (19041986)

Born into an upper-class English family, Isherwood spent much of his life rebelling against Victorian sensibilities. Perhaps his most flagrant rebellion was leaving
England in 1929. First, he went to Berlin, which to him meant boys (Christopher
2), and then, after much world traveling throughout the 1930s, he went to the
United States. He became an American citizen in 1946 and lived with his lover, the
artist Don Bachardy, in Santa Monica, California, for the rest of his life.
Isherwood witnessed the end of Weimar Germany. As a writer and an outsider,
he was uniquely positioned to become one of that eras best documentarians. His
Berlin Stories (a volume that includes the novels The Last of Mr. Norris and Goodbye
to Berlin) chronicle the rise of Hitler and the Nazis while lamenting the death of
bohemian life in Berlin. The famous opening passage of Goodbye to Berlin has led to
a misunderstanding of Isherwoods role as writer-observer: I am a camera with its
shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. . . . Some day, all this will have
to be developed, carefully printed, fixed. Of course, Isherwood was more engaged
than that. He saw the heightened anti-Semitism, witnessed the conflicts between
the Nazis and Communists, recognized the changing climate at the boy bars, and
worried overand wrote aboutthe ambivalence he felt in many Germans as
these developments arose.
For Isherwood, the political was always defined by the personal, as the final
passage in Goodbye to Berlin demonstrates: The sun shines, and Hitler is master of
this city&. [D]ozens of my friends...are in prison, possibly dead&I am thinking
of poor Rudi...the Nazis will play with him&Perhaps at this very moment Rudi
is being tortured to death (Berlin 207). Rudi, Isherwood revealed in Christopher
and His Kind (1976), was based on his lover, Heinz. In that memoira retelling of
the Berlin yearsIsherwood, then out of the closet and active in the American gay
movement, made clear that his love for Heinz moved him to pacifism.
Unlike some of his friends, Isherwood never joined the Communist Party; he felt
that the antihomosexual policies under Stalin were inexcusable and hypocritical in
a party ostensibly devoted to justice. Isherwoods shift toward gay activism dominated his politics for the remainder of his life and career. Isherwood wrote about
openly gay characters and issues as early as the 1950s. His underrated novel The
World in the Evening (1954) features a gay couple, Charles and Bob, and shows Bob
railing against the militarys antigay policy. In his finest novel, A Single Man (1965),
Isherwood follows a gay professor through one day. George, the protagonist, talks



I ta l i a n L i t e r at u r e

to his students about minority politics, drawing connections between racial and
other forms of discrimination while also pointing out rivalries among minorities
and critiquing banal liberalism.
Isherwood made important contributions recording and commenting on political and social matters throughout much of the 20th century. Like his mentor, E.
M. Forster, Isherwood practiced a personal politics based in justice and love, not
power and might.
Chris Freeman
Further Reading
Berg, James, and Chris Freeman, eds. Conversations with Christopher Isherwood. Jackson: UP
of Mississippi, 2001.
Isherwood, Christopher. The Berlin Stories. 1935. New York: New Directions, 1954.
Isherwood, Christopher. Christopher and His Kind. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux,
Summers, Claude J. Christopher Isherwood. New York: Ungar, 1980.

I tal i a n L i t e r at u r e
Italian literature had a long, rich, and often politically engaged history as the 20th
century arrived. With the new century, writers wedded these motifs to the new
idea of an Italian nation, producing a spate of odes and verse epics, heroic tragedies, and historical novels drawing on the Greek, Roman, and Italian past to construct a tradition of libertarian nationalism, which was transformed into a religion
in the life and writingsamounting to a hundred volumesof the revolutionary
nationalist Giuseppe Mazzini (18051872). The heroic cult of the nation was carried on after the unification (1860) by the poet Giosu Carducci (18371907,
1906 Nobel Prize winner), the versatile DAnnunzio, and the futurist leader F. T.
Marinetti (18761944), though it was increasingly problematized by other writers,
as in Italo Svevos sly novel La coscienza di Zeno (Confessions of Zeno / Zenos Conscience, 1923), in which the Great War and Italys intervention in it are emptied of
Fascist rule (19221945) was less successful in producing a Fascist literature
than an anti-Fascist literature, implicitly including Alberto Moravias first novel,
Gli indifferenti (A Time of Indifference, 1929). This was one of the first 20th-century
novels of alienation and, of course, could not contain any explicit political critique, any more than Elio Vittorinis highly allusive and emblematic Conversazione
in Sicilia (1941). From exile, Ignazio Silone was able to write openly about Fascist
repression of the peasantry. The Resistance struggle is more or less fictionally documented in the neorealist vein of narratives by writers such as Moravia and Vittorini,
but also Italo Calvino, Cesare Pavese, and Beppe Fenoglio. This received further
impetus from the posthumous publication of the prison notebooks of Communist
leader Antonio Gramsci, which attributed central political importance to culture.

I ta l i a n L i t e r at u r e

Neorealism rarely produced anything politically sharper than a vague humanism

and, especially in the novels and stories of Vasco Pratolini, wavered between politically marked Socialist realism and sentimental melodrama. The politics of neorealism were comically inverted in the hugely popular Don Camillo books by Giovanni
Guareschi, in which a village parish priest and the local Communist mayor fight
out in miniature the political issues of the day but are soul brothers under the skin.
The conventions of realism were challenged in the 1950s by the appalling reality
of Primo Levis Holocaust testimony, the appalling ultrarealism of Pier Paolo Pasolinis Roman narratives, and the return in subversive mode of the historical novel
in Tomasi di Lampedusas Il gattopardo (The Leopard, 1958), all carrying strong
political implications. Subsequently, neoexperimentalists, including Pasolini, and
the neo-avant-garde, including the Gruppo 63, challenged capitalist hegemony
by deconstructing the means of signification down to language itself, but with
narrower impact than the revival of popular theater by 1997 Nobel Prize winner
Dario Fo (1926 ), or the multifarious and provocative docufictions of Oriana
Fallaci (19302006). A satirical genre of fantapolitica (political fantasy) arose after
1968, exemplified in Guglielmo Zincones Vita, vita, vita! about a Papal coup dtat
(1985), but more surrealistically and metaphysically in Ugo Terruggis unjustly
neglected Luisa e il presidente (1972), and with unnerving plausibility in Leonardo
Sciascias Il contesto (Equal Danger, 1971).
John Gatt-Rutter
Further Reading
Brand, C. P., and Lino Pertile. Cambridge History of Italian Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997.
Dotti, Ugo. Storia degli intellettuali in Italia. 3 vols. Rome: Editori Riuniti, 1997, 1998, 1999.
Gatt-Rutter, John. Writers and Politics in Modern Italy. London: Hodder and Stoughton,
Goudet, J. Dante et la politique. Paris: Aubier, 1959.
Gramsci, Antonio. Prison Notebooks. 2 vols. Ed. and trans. Joseph A. Buttigieg. New York:
Columbia UP, 1992, 1996.
Rhle, J. Italy between Black and Red. Trans. J. Steinberg. Literature and Revolution. London: Pall Mall, 1969.


Ja m e s , C . L . R . ( 1 9 0 1 1 9 8 9 )
The son of a schoolteacher and a convent-educated housewife in British colonial
Trinidad, James would successively become a unique regional novelist, an outstanding scholar of black history, a political activist and theoretician, a sports historian, and in old age, the last of a generation of great Pan-Africanists. A promising
lad with a broad-jump record for his island, James disappointed his parents terribly
by shunning classes for the cricket field. Likewise, and unlike many other regional
intellectuals of high caliber, he did not leave for schooling in the United Kingdom,
but instead stayed to become a secondary-school teacher and a sometime cricket
commentator. During the 1920s, drawn at once by the nationalist-radical movement of Captain Cipriani and by the desire to help create a distinctive new literature, James and close friends launched two short-lived cultural journals. By the
time he left for the United Kingdom in 1931, he had completed Minty Alley, one of
the very earliest English-language novels of the region.
Jamess British sojourn (19311939) plunged him into sports journalism (he
became a cricket commentator for the Manchester Guardian), anticolonial activism, and political Trotskyism. Venturing to Paris archives, he gathered materials for the publication of The Black Jacobins (1939), a novelistic treatment of the
successful Haitian revolt, ultimately consideredwith W. E. B. Du Boiss Black
Reconstructionone of the classics of the day and not only for Africans of the New
World. Disappointed by the political prospects of the tiny British Trotskyist movement, he shifted operations to the United States as the European war neared, met
Trotsky in Mexico for discussions on the Negro question, and became active in
the United States under a series of pseudonyms. Soon he had acquired intimate
collaborators (especially Grace Lee and Raya Dunayevskaya) and a microfaction
within Trotskyism, arguing that Russian society had become state capitalist, and
that only workers fighting free of bureaucratic union control could revolutionize
the West. This antibureaucratic position placed him firmly outside Trotskyism
(whose chief historical-theoretical text, after Trotskys own work, he had penned in
the United Kingdom as World Revolution). He and his group of 50 or so therefore
departed into splendid isolation from the rest of the Left but firmly entrenched
themselves (at least in their view) into the daily life of working-class Detroit.
James soon suffered incarceration and expulsion due to the political atmosphere of McCarthyism, but in the stressful moments of the later 1940s and early
1950s, he had completed several of the works important to his own development:
State Capitalism and World Revolution (1950), a group statement about resistance
to bureaucracy; Notes on Dialectics (1949, issued in mimeographed form until


James, C. L. R.

publication in 1984), a political meditation on Hegel; and Mariners, Renegades and

Castaways (1953), a unique analysis of Herman Melville and Moby-Dick as reflecting American conditions and mentalite. He did not complete the document that
he called Notes on American Civilizationa wider interpretation following the
Melville studydue to his personal situation but perhaps also to the difficulty of
the task. Unbeknownst to him, however, his 1940s documents on black radicalism
had deeply influenced a young, imprisoned Malcolm X, and his work exerted a
quiet influence on many civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr.
Back in the United Kingdom, James set to work writing about cricket again
and within a decade completed Beyond a Boundary (1963)regarded as the finest
cricket study and one of the best sports histories written. Eventually, British audiences who knew little about the old mans politics regarded him as the black savant
who spoke frequently on television during test matches.
Beyond a Boundary raised up the cricket play of colonial subjects as demonstrating their societies readiness for independence and a distinctive contribution to
world society. James took part in the political side when Trinidad moved toward
independence and the former schoolboy taught by James, Dr. Eric Williams, invited
his sometime teacher to become editor of the independence partys weekly newspaper. Regarded with great hostility by the congealing party bureaucracy, James left
Trinidad after 18 months in 1961 but left behind a movement on several islands
dedicated to his vision of anticolonialism from the grass roots, and popular rule
without neocolonial economics or bureaucratic political machinery.
From the middle 1960s to the end of his long life, James divided his time
between the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States,
where he was readmitted in 1969, and taught at Federal City College of Washington, DC, for several years when not traveling and speaking at campuses far and
wide. As an aged, jet-black militant with oratorical power and a delightful, humorous self-presentation, James drew crowds of devotees. The U.S. New Left journal
Radical America, which published a selection of his writings in 1970, served as a
beacon for his views, and the League of Black Revolutionary Workers drew inspiration from him, while Caribbean activists at home, in the United States, and in
Canada imbibed his persona as well as his arguments. In his lifetime, he became
known in some circles as the Black Plato because of the scope of his interpretations. Meanwhile, Walter Rodney (the Guyanese political thinker assassinated
in 1979), Stokely Carmichael, Tim Hector (leader of the Antiguan opposition),
George Lamming, and the membership of the Oil Field Workers Trade Union of
Trinidad and Tobago, among many others in the region, regarded him as the foremost moral and intellectual force for a Caribbean federation.
Resettled in London during his declining years, he found himself unable to complete his memoirs, but three volumes of selected works appeared (The Future in the
Present, 1977; Spheres of Existence, 1980; and At the Rendezvous of Victory, 1984)
along with Notes on Dialectics (1980), the anthological Cricket (1986), and his searing critique of African revolutions gone wrong, Nkrumah and the Ghana Revolution
(1977). Shortly before his death, the authorized biography, C. L. R. James: The Artist
as Revolutionary, was published. The years since have seen many new studies; the

J e l i n e k , El f r i e d e

semiannual appearance of the C. L. R. James Journal by the C. L. R. James Society,

based at Brown University; and a global conference on the occasion of his centenary in 2001, at the University of West Indies campus in Trinidad, where a major
selection of his personal papers have been gathered.
Paul Buhle
Further Reading
Bogues, Anthony. C. L. R. James and Marxism. London: Pluto, 1993.
Buhle, Paul, ed. C. L. R. James: The Artist as Revolutionary. London: Verso, 1988.
Henry, Paget, and Paul Buhle, eds. C. L. R. Jamess Caribbean. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1992.

J e l i n e k , El f r i e d e ( 1 9 4 6 )
Raised in Vienna, the Austrian writer Elfriede Jelinek has become one of her countrys leading modern literary figures. After her studies at the University of Vienna
were interrupted by an anxiety disorder, Jelinek began to write poetry, publishing
Lisas Schatten (Lisas Shadow) her first book of poems, at age 21. Jelinek would
ultimately become most important as a playwright and novelist, known both for
the poetic flow of her prose and for her strong political commitments, both as a
feminist and as a member of the Communist Party. She herself has remained a
prominent public voice in Austrian politics even beyond the years of the Cold War
and her departure from the Communist Party in 1991, often as a powerful critic
of certain rightward turns in Austrian politics. Partly because of her leftist-feminist
politics (and particularly the powerful criticism of consumer capitalism contained
in her work), Jelineks writing was relatively little known outside the Germanspeaking world until 2004, when she drew considerable global attention as the
winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in recognition for her career contributions
to world literature. The Nobel committee cited her for her musical flow of voices
and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal
the absurdity of societys clichs and their subjugating power.
Jelineks work is also often particularly focused on Austrian topics, as in her
engagement with Austrias Fascist past. On the other hand, Jelineks 1983 novel
Die Klavierspielerin, was translated into English as The Piano Teacher in 1988, the
first of her novels to be so translated. It was adapted to film (largely in French)
as La pianiste by the Austrian director Michael Haneke in 2001, winning a number of European film awards and drawing considerable critical attention. In 1990,
Jelineks 1980 novel Die Ausgesperrten was translated into English as Wonderful,
Wonderful Times. Her 1989 novel Lust was translated into English with the same
title in 1992, and her relatively early 1975 novel Die Liebhaberinnen was translated
into English as Women as Lovers in 1994. Her 2000 novel Gier was published in
English as Greed in 2005. This novel was substantially controversial; some critics
considered the translation inadequate, while others simply found its unflinching
portrayal of certain negative (especially misogynistic) aspects of humanity to be



J e w i s h A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

extreme and highly unpleasant. The controversies over this novel might explain
the lack of subsequent translations of her work into English, though the novel also
had strong critical supporters.
Jelinek herself has translated a number of works by others into German, ranging
from Christopher Marlowes play The Jew of Malta to Thomas Pynchons Gravitys
Rainbow (1973), which she translated into German as Die Enden der Parabel in
M. Keith Booker

Further Reading
Bethman, Brenda. Obscene Fantasies: Elfriede Jelineks Generic Perversions. New York, NY:
Peter Lang, 2011.
Fiddler, Allyson.Rewriting Reality: An Introduction to Elfriede Jelinek. Oxford: Berg, 1994.
Konzett, Matthias.The Rhetoric Of National Dissent in Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, and
Elfriede Jelinek. Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2000.

J e w i s h A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e
Although this literary phenomenon has flourished in the 20th century, the origin of
Jewish American writing has its roots decisively in the 19th-century immigrant experience of European Jewry. Many thousands of Jews who fled Europe in the 1880s and
the early part of the 20th century eked out a poverty-stricken existence in New Yorks
Lower East Side, living in tenements supported by Jewish charities. Jewish American
writing of this periodincluding Abraham Cahans Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto
(1896), Rose Cohens Out of the Shadow: A Russian Jewish Girlhood on the Lower East
Side (1918), and Anzia Yezierskas Salome of the Tenements (1923)testifies to the
process of social, economic, and cultural transition with, as Stephen Wade observes,
a basis of emotional belonging in the old country and an emphasis on learning,
growth and change in the individual consciousness (Jewish, 33). In recording the
communal and individual consequences of the cultural transition from European
shtetl to American ghetto, this first generation of Jewish American writers appreciated the private and public pressures exerted on Jewish identity from withoutby
the materialist aspirations of the secular capitalist economy into which many desired
integrationand from withinby a commitment to traditional spirituality, religious
practice, and Talmudic scholarship that renounced worldly gain. Cahans novel The
Rise of David Levinsky (1917) perfectly captures this dualistic aspect of what it is to
be Jewish in the New World, as the protagonist of the title becomes an entrepreneur
in the capitalist system through the manufacture of cloaks (themselves an emblem of
duplicity), only to become aware that his successful business venture is modeled on
the homespun industry of his former Eastern European village, Antomor. Such historical reminders of the past perpetually alert David to an inner sense of vacancy at
variance with his ostensible commercial triumph and caused by his apparent inability to live a worthwhile inner spiritual life.

J e w i s h A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

Throughout the 1930s, Jewish American fiction continued to explore the tension between old and new modes of existence but, gradually, offered a reassessment of the first-generation Jewish immigrant experience in the United States and
explored issues of assimilation, embracing the individual liberties and opportunities
offered by secular society and culture. In this respect, Yiddish American modernist
poetssuch as Moyshe-Leyb Halpern (In New York, 1919), Jacob Glatshteyn (Yiddish Meanings, 1937), and Kudya Molodowsky (In the Country of My Bones, 1937)
increasingly found themselves solitary and marginal voices because of their artistic
choice to employ Yiddish as their linguistic medium and their often critical attitudes
toward the United States as the Promised or Golden Land. Prose writing of this
period, however, galvanized the philosophical speculation of European and Yiddish
traditions into an intellectualism that defined Jewish identity in the New World by
depicting protagonistsas, for example, in Mike Golds Jews without Money (1930),
Henry Roths Call It Sleep (1934), Tess Slesingers The Unpossessed (1934), Delmore
Schwartzs In Dreams Begin Responsibilities (1937), and Nathanael Wests The Day
of the Locust (1939)who were self-conscious journalists, writers, thinkers, and
political activists with Socialist sympathies akin to those of the Jewish Literary Left
(including Cahan, Yezierska, and Gold). To varying degrees, these prose works critiqued the anachronism of Eastern European Jewish folklore, criticized the vacuity
of popular culture, and satirized the urban intellectual and political movements in
modern America. In the next decade, this satirical element is still evident in Norman
Mailers stringent Marxist analysis of capitalist economics and outright condemnation of the futility of war, The Naked and the Dead (1948), and also in two plays of
the same era by Arthur Miller, All My Sons (1947) and Death of a Salesman (1949).
In Death of a Salesman, Biffs diagnosis of his fathers phony dream (106)
indicates an intellectual crisis over the disjuncture between self and world, private sentiment and public obligation, and reaffirms intellectualism as a prevalent
characteristic of Jewish American literary identity before and after World War II
and the catastrophic events of the Shoah (Holocaust). This cataclysmic occurrence
determined the elegiac voice present in Jewish American poetry of the postwar era
and is detectable in poetic collections as diverse as Howl and Other Poems (1956)
by Allen Ginsberg, Poems of a Jew (1958) by Karl Shapiro, and When We Dead
Awaken (1971) and Diving into the Wreck (1973) by Adrienne Rich. In postwar
fiction, Saul Bellow became the most prominent novelist to translate the spatial
sphere of physical action into a psychic arena of intellectual and existential angst.
Invariably, the protagonists of Bellows fiction are men of letters, verbal eloquence,
and philosophy, who derive a fundamental sense of being in the worldas well
as a vantage point from which to scrutinize postwar American culturefrom their
intellectual and literary sensibilities. Joseph, the central character in Bellows first
novel, Dangling Man (1944), explicitly rejects the mode of physical activity preferred by those heroes of Ernest Hemingway (18981961), claiming that [t]he
hard-boiled are compensated for their silence; they fly planes or fight bulls or
catch tarpon, whereas I rarely leave my room (10). Bellows inward psychic turn
is a response to American urban culture, anti-Semitism, and the threatened loss
of unique identity in a pluralistic society where total assimilation is the perceived



J e w i s h A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

goal. These individual questions about ethical behavior and communal responsibility are frequently universalized in Bellows work to the wider philosophical
issue of humanitys chaotic, fragmentary, and disjointed perception of reality and
advocacy of a self-reliance close in conception to Jean-Paul Sartres existentialism
in Being and Nothingness (1943). Consequently, those central characters of Bellows
early fiction, such as Asa (The Victim, 1947), Augie (The Adventures of Augie March,
1953), Tommy (Seize the Day, 1956), Henderson (Henderson the Rain King, 1959),
Moses (Herzog, 1964), and Artur (Mr. Sammlers Planet, 1970), are acutely attuned
to the unreality of their own states of being, the contingent nature of their socially
constructed selves, and how their self-imposed alienation from community is a
fictional defense against their own human shortcomings and absurdities that they
recognize in others. From his earliest fiction to Ravelstein (1999), Bellows esoteric
meditations on the nature of Jewish identity constitute alternative responses to the
devastation of the Holocaust and invariably advocate an intellectual humanism.
Philip Roth adapts such intellectualism to a highly satirical mode of first-person narrative, as in The Professor of Desire (1977) and The Human Stain (2000), to
examine the complexities of what it means to be Jewish and living the suburban
life of middle-class comfort and relative financial security. Roths debut novella,
Goodbye, Columbus (1959), is acutely sensitive to the various manifestations of Jewishness, including a sympathetic intellectual sensibility, an insular narrow-mindedness, a practical hard-work ethic, and finally a projected future liberal consciousness
receptive to secular society. This commitment to the secular United States becomes
blasphemous in Roths infamously graphic portrayal of Portnoys neurotic psychosis, with its origins in the emotional trauma of his childhood and pubescent sexual
awakening. Framed as a confessional exchange between the central character and
his psychiatrist, Portnoys unfolding account of his life, irreverently, sketches and
ridicules Orthodox practices and institutions (Portnoys Complaint, 1969).
Other Jewish American literature of the 20th century valorized the traditional
rituals, beliefs, and lifestyle. Written originally in Yiddish (and translated by Bellow),
a seminal short story, Gimpel the Fool, by Isaac Bashevis Singer illustrates how the
institutional rules of Judaism are exercised by rabbis with discretion and compassion, when Gimpels wayward wife is forgiven and left unpunished. In a manifesto
entitled The Problems of Yiddish Prose in America (1943), Singer advocated that
all Jewish American writers should write in Yiddish, which, for him, was inextricable from Jewishness itself. Singers novels Shadows on the Hudson (1957, 1998)
and Enemies: A Love Story (1966, 1972) were serialized in Yiddish in the Jewish
Daily Forward, founded in New York (1897), and later translatedwith authorial
involvementfor a wider reading public. His fiction often blends a modern cityscape with a hauntingly lyrical nostalgia for the past world of Eastern European
Jewry. In the English-speaking world, the work of Bernard Malamud reverberates
with the historical consciousness of the Holocaust (The Fixer, 1966) and is closest to
the artistic concerns and method of Singers work. Malamuds first collection of short
stories, The Magic Barrel (1958), investigates, through the eyes of the Old World and
a literary mode bordering on magical realism, the Jewish condition in terms of guilt,
expiation, and suffering, exemplified by the tragicomic tale The Jewbird. His first

J e w i s h A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

novel, The Assistant (1957), similarly derives its mythic grandeur from its evocation
of the moral conscience of those first Jewish immigrants but, with its tale of intermarriage, transcends social, racial, and religious division. A short-story collection by
Grace Paley, The Little Disturbances of Man (1959), also broaches these issues of social
justice and political activism but scales down weighty topics to their local, intimate,
and human aspect by narrating events through a series of distinct multiple voices.
Paleys second volume of stories, Enormous Changes at the Last Minute (1974), again
employs a succession of narrators that, ironically, examine the condition of the Jewish family in modern urban environs.
Using American history as a backdrop for his novels, E. L. Doctorow addresses
many of these same sociopolitical concerns and attendant ethical questions in a vivid
panoramic evocation of the past with his creative coalescence of fact and fiction.
His widely acclaimed The Book of Daniel (1971) is an imaginative reworking of the
events surrounding the Rosenberg spy case that strikingly captures the atmosphere
and sentiments of a bygone historic era. Subsequent novels by Doctorow recapture a variety of historical epochs: American society at the beginning of the 20th
century (Ragtime, 1975); 1930s New York (Worlds Fair, 1985, and Billy Bathgate,
1989); and late 19th-century New York (The Waterworks, 1994). Doctorows historical fiction provides cultural barometers of particular historical moments rather
than an accurate record of actual events, and the cinematic quality of his writing
has produced several screen and stage adaptations of his work. Doctorows novel,
City of God (2000), adopts an unconventional, fragmentary exposition of narrative
(raising important aesthetic, scientific, moral, and historical questions for our own
time) to gauge the cultural and intellectual milieu of the 21st century. At the turn
of the 20th century, Jewish American writers were still as prolific as ever. Roth published four books in the 1990s (Patrimony [1991], Operation Shylock [1993], Sabbaths Theater [1995], and American Pastoral [1997]); he then remained productive
into the new century, with novels such as The Human Stain (2000), The Dying Animal (2001), and Exit Ghost (2007). Henry Roths Mercy of a Rude Stream appeared
along with Tony Kushners Angels in America (both 1994); Erica Jong launched her
autobiographical Fear of Fifty (1995); Paul Austers Ground Work (1996) went on
sale; and Bellow completed a novella, The Actual (1997), and a novel, Ravelstein
(2000). Four Library of America editions of his novels were published between
2003 and 2014. A Norton Anthology of Jewish American Literature was issued in
2001. At the start of the 21st century, the continued significance, importance, and
interest in Jewish American literature as a major contributor to the past and contemporary literary culture of the United States is assured for generations to come.
Mark Sandy

Further Reading
Bucher, Irving H. Isaac Bashevis Singer and the Eternal Past. New York: New York UP, 1968.
Clayton, John Jacob. Saul Bellow: In Defense of Man. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1968.
Fowler, Douglas. Understanding E. L. Doctorow. Columbia: South Carolina UP, 1992.



John Reed Clubs

Fuchs, Daniel. Saul Bellow: Vision and Revision. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1984.
Isaacs, Neil David. Grace Paley: A Study of the Short Fiction. Boston: Twayne, 1990.
Kraemaer, Michael, and Hana Wirth-Nesher. Cambridge Companion to Jewish-American Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003.
Lee, Hermione. Philip Roth. London: Methuen, 1982.
Malin, Irvin. Critical Views of Isaac Bashevis Singer. New York: New York UP, 1972.
Morris, Christopher D. Models of Misrepresentation: On the Fiction of E. L. Doctorow. Jackson:
UP of Mississippi, 1991.
Ochshorn, Kathleen G. The Hearts Essential Landscape: Bernard Malamuds Hero. New York:
Lang, 1990.
Taylor, Jacqueline. Grace Paley: Illuminating the Dark Lives. Austin: U of Texas P, 1990.
Wade, Stephen. The Imagination in Transit: The Fiction of Philip Roth. Sheffield: Sheffield UP,
Wade, Stephen. Jewish American Literature since 1945: An Introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1999.

J o h n R e e d Cl u b s
Named after the leftist writer John Reed, these organizations were the most prominent attempt by the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) to produce
proletarian literature. Inspired by similar attempts to mobilize art in the service of
Communist ideology in the Soviet Union, the John Reed Clubs only lasted from
1929 until 1935, but they nevertheless supported and facilitated the development
of a number of prominent leftist writers, including Nelson Algren, Jack Conroy,
Joseph Freeman, Mike Gold, Meridel LeSueur, Tillie Olsen, and Richard Wright.
Although at their peak there were more than thirty John Reed Clubs in the
United States, the New York club was by far the most influential. Founded in
1929, the groups membership quickly grew to more than fifty (including Whittaker Chambers, who two decades later would be the prime government witness
against Alger Hiss). In November 1930, the New York club sent delegates to an
international conference on proletarian literature in the Ukrainian city of Kharkov.
Upon returning, many of these delegatesFreeman perhaps most notable among
themspearheaded the movement to expand the John Reed Clubs around the
nation. When the first national congress of John Reed Clubs was held in Chicago in
May 1932, there were established clubs in nineteen cities, and the group claimed
more than eight hundred individual members, including the young Wrighta
new member of the Chicago chapter. Wright would later negatively recount his
experiences at this congress and with the John Reed Clubs in general in a 1944
essay entitled I Tried to Be a Communist, which he later incorporated into
his autobiography, Black Boy (American Hunger). A second congress was held in
September 1934, again in Chicago, and this meeting represented the high point of
the organization, both in terms of membership and influence.
The John Reed Clubs provided professional mentoring and ideological instruction for young, politically engaged writers, thereby putting the clubss motto of
Art Is a Class Weapon into practice. They sponsored lectures by prominent leftist
thinkers and conducted workshops on writing techniques and Marxist philosophy.

J o n e s , L e w i s

Many of the chapters published their own journals, including Left Front in Chicago, Left Review in Philadelphia, and the Partisan in California. Perhaps the most
influential of all these was Partisan Reviewthe house organ of the New York chapterwhich drifted away from its Communist origins and eventually became a rival
to the more established Communist publication, New Masses.
In part because of this potential schism among literary workers but also
because of the increasingly vigorous opposition from the political right, the John
Reed Clubs were disbanded not long after the Chicago meeting. In their place, the
League of American Writers was formed in April 1935 to correspond more closely
with the new Popular Front policy of incorporating all leftist revolutionary views,
not just those of the Communists.
Derek C. Maus
Further Reading
Foley, Barbara. Radical Representations: Politics and Form in U.S. Proletarian Fiction, 1929
1941. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1993.
Hemingway, Andrew. Artists on the Left: American Artists and the Communist Movement,
19261956. New Haven, CT: Yale UP, 2002.
Homberger, Eric. American Writers and Radical Politics: Equivocal Commitments, 190039.
New York: St. Martins Press, 1989.
Rideout, Walter B. The Radical Novel in the United States, 19001954. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1956.

Jones, LeRoi
See Baraka, Amiri.
Jones, Lewis (18971939)
The illegitimate child of a domestic servant, Lewis Jones was born in Clydach Vale,
South Wales, and started work in the pit at age 12. He briefly studied to be a mining engineer, then, in 1923, he gained a scholarship to attend the Central Labour
College, where he became friendly with the writer Jack Jones (one of his models for
the character of Len in his two novels). Harold Heslop was another fellow student.
In that same year, Jones joined the Communist Party, remaining a member until his
death despite some criticism of his lack of discipline.
In 1925, Jones returned to Wales and took work as a checkweighman at the
Cambrian Colliery in Clydach Vale, where he remained until 1930. However, in
1926 he was imprisoned for three months in Swansea jail for sedition after making
speeches in support of the General Strike. He appeared in court on several subsequent occasions for inciting disorder.
Lewis Joness job ended when he refused to work with scab labor; he became
unemployed and active in the Unemployed Workers Movement, organizing and
leading hunger marches, including a 1936 march to London. In 1935, Jones visited
the Soviet Union for the Seventh World Congress of the Communist International;



Joyce, James

he was uneasy with the cult of leadership and reportedly refused to clap or stand at
Stalins name. In 1936, he was elected as one of two Communist Party county councilors for Glamorgan. In addition to his council duties, the last years of Joness life
were occupied with campaigning on behalf of the republican side in the Spanish
Civil War. He died during the week that Francos Fascists took Barcelona, after
addressing 30 street meetings in a day.
Joness career as a writer began in 1932 when he began to submit short stories
to the Daily Worker. He also wrote two pamphlets supporting hunger marchers.
However, Joness reputation as a writer derives from two novels: Cwmardy (1937)
and We Live (1939). Both are set in a Rhondda mining community, offering fictionalized versions of real events and taking industrial and political struggle as their
focus. Cwmardy covers the period from the 1890s to the end of the First World War
while We Live includes the General Strike and the Spanish Civil War. A third projected novel would have shown the triumphant return of the International Brigade
sparking a popular revolutionary movement in Britain. The novels are notable for
including individuals who resist convention (especially strong women) and scenes
of collective action; they also indicate and support a move from old style tradeunion activism to the discipline of the Communist Party.
Kathleen Bell

Further Reading
Bell, David. Ardent Propaganda: Miners Novels and Class Conflict 192939. Uppsala: Swedish
Science P, 1995.
Booker, M. Keith. The Modern British Novel of the Left: A Research Guide. Westport, CT:
Greenwood, 1998.
Smith, David. Lewis Jones. Cardiff: U of Wales P, 1982.

J o y c e , Ja m e s ( 1 8 8 2 1 9 4 1 )
Joyce was born in Rathgar, a fairly well-to-do suburb of Dublin. As the eldest and
most promising child, at the age of six he was sent to Clongowes Wood College, a
Jesuit-run preparatory school in County Kildare with a good reputation, attended
mostly by children of the rising Catholic middle class. Within a few years, his
father was no longer able to pay the tuition, as he had been pensioned off from
his sinecure at the Office of the Collector of Rates after the fall of the politician
Parnell, whom he had vigorously supported. As his family sank into poverty, Joyce
attended the less expensive Belvedere College, and was then admitted to University
College Dublin, which itself had been handed over to the Jesuits to manage.
During his university years, Joyce was exposed to the Irish nationalist movement, which encouraged an interest in Irish sports and the Irish language; he
had little enthusiasm for either of these, although he resented the colonial status
of Ireland. The young Joyce was enthusiastic about the poetry of W. B. Yeats,
although he opposed most of the principles on which Yeats and George Russell

J o y c e , J a m e s

were establishing the Irish literary revival, especially their stress on the peasantry
as a repository of virtue and wisdom. Despite the traditional university curriculum,
Joyce became aware of contemporary European writing at the turn of the century,
and distinguished himself as an undergraduate by publishing a laudatory essay on
Ibsens New Drama in the Fortnightly Review.
In 1904, Joyce left Ireland with Nora Barnacle, a hotel maid, without benefit of
marriage as a protest against both church and state. They lived first in Pola and
then in Trieste, where Joyce taught at the Berlitz school and attempted to publish
his collection of rather naturalistic short stories entitled Dubliners. Two years after
that book finally appeared in 1914, Joyces innovative autobiographical novel A
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published with the encouragement of Ezra
Pound. Although some English reviewers noted that the young men in the book
all seemed to share an antipathy and distrust for England, the books protagonist
Stephen Dedalus rejects his friend Davins call to join his group of nationalists, and
when other students protest Yeatss play Countess Cathleen as a libel on Irish womanhood, Dedalus alone opposes them in the name of artistic freedom.
Begun in Trieste and finished in Paris, Ulysses, published in 1922, brought
Joyce international fame and was quickly accepted as a central text of modernism,
though it was also controversial, banned in the United States as pornographic until
1934. An unapologetically difficult book, formally complex and self-referential,
Ulysses was for many years taken as proof that Joyce, like the other major modernist authors, was apolitical; it was taken to be art for arts sake, a word world
that anticipated the even more hermetic and inscrutable Finnegans Wake (1939).
Joyces writing was routinely attacked by Marxist critics as an example of bourgeois
self-involvement and aesthetic mystification. Joyce claimed to be baffled by this
dismissal, and pointed out that virtually all his characters were lower middle class.
While psychological, mythic, and aesthetic approaches to Joyces work dominated the 1940s through the 1960s, by the 1980s, a few criticsincluding Joyces
biographer Richard Ellmann and Dominic Manganiellopointed out that Joyces
Trieste library had included a great deal of political writing, traces of which could
easily be found in Ulysses and even Portrait. In early letters, Joyce claimed to be
a Socialist, and his early reading included work by the American anarchist Benjamin Tucker. As politically oriented criticism became increasingly acceptable in
the academy, more critics began to find that Ulysses was seriously concerned with
Dublins colonial (and, by 1922, its postcolonial) condition, not to mention with
Irish anti-Semitism, which Joyce portrays as an obvious distraction from real conditions of oppression. Vincent Chengs Joyce, Race, and Empire (1995) explored these
and other themes, finding an abiding political concern throughout Joyces work,
including Finnegans Wake. Trevor Williams helps articulate the current-consensus
notion of Joyce in showing him to be, like Woolf, a subscriber to the left-wing,
progressive wing of modernism.
A branch of poststructuralist criticism adopted Joyce as an example of writing
that through its very violation of literary and linguistic norms constitutes a protest more fundamental than what Socialism offers; Colin MacCabe is probably the
best early example of this, while Patrick McGees Paperspace is a well-developed



Joyce, James

reading of Ulysses along those lines. Meanwhile, feminist critics explored Joyces
sexual politics, some of them arguing that his work shows a misogyny typical
of the time, while others, including Marilyn French, insisted that Joyce carefully
highlighted sexual inequalities through the limitations of his protagonist Stephen
Dedalus. Exploring some of the same concerns, Richard Browns James Joyce and
Sexuality shows the connection between Joyce and turn-of-the-century writers
on sexuality and politics such as Havelock Ellis, while Katherine Mullin portrays
Joyce as consciously engaged in a cultural and political struggle with the social
purity movement.
R. Brandon Kershner
Further Reading
Booker, M. Keith. Ulysses, Capitalism, and Colonialism: Reading Joyce after the Cold War.
Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000.
Brown, Richard. James Joyce and Sexuality. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1985.
Cheng, Vincent. Joyce, Race, and Empire. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995.
Ellmann, Richard. The Consciousness of Joyce. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1977.
French, Marilyn. The Book as World. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1975.
Gibson, Andrew. Joyces Revenge: History, Politics and Aesthetics in Ulysses. Oxford: Oxford
UP, 2002.
Kershner, R. Brandon. Joyce, Bakhtin, and Popular Literature. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1989.
MacCabe, Colin. James Joyce and the Revolution of the Word. London: Macmillan, 1978.
Manganiello, Dominic. Joyces Politics. London: Routledge, 1980.
McGee, Patrick. Paperspace. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P, 1988.
Mullin, Katherine. James Joyce, Sexuality and Social Purity. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2003.
Nolan, Emer. James Joyce and Nationalism. London: Routledge, 1995.
Scott, Bonnie Kime. Joyce and Feminism. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1984.
Williams, Trevor. Joyces Politics. Gainesville: UP of Florida, 1997.

Kata e v, Val e n t i n P e t r o v i c h ( 1 8 9 7 1 9 8 6 )
Born in Odessa, Kataev published his first poem in 1910, foreshadowing the considerable contribution he would make to Soviet literature in the form of poetry,
drama, and prose. He began writing stories in 1916. After the Russian Revolution
of 1917, Kataev moved to Moscow and worked for the newspaper Gudok. His early
style is easily recognizable with its specific romantic flavor, characteristic of the
southern Odessa school. During the relatively relaxed literary atmosphere of the
New Economic Policy period, Kataev wrote a novel, The Embezzlers (1926), and
a play, Squaring the Circle (1927). The novel is a comic tale of two employees of a
Moscow trust who embezzle some money and go on a merry romp in search of
high society. The play is a comedy based on the housing shortage in Moscow during the 1920s and deals with the new morality of a new regime. Until the 1960s,
Kataev was known mostly for his works of this period and, to a lesser degree,
for his two novels written in the 1930s: Time Forward (1932), a novel about the
building of an industrial complex at Magnitogorsk during the first Five-Year Plan,
and The Lone White Sail (1936), a book that gave him a reputation as a writer of
childrens books.
During the Great Patriotic War (19411945), Kataev served as a correspondent
at the front for the newspapers Pravda and Krasnaia Zvezda. His war impressions
became the basis of Kataevs novel Son of the Regiment (1945). Another novel, For
the Power of the Soviets (1949), is a portrayal of the underground activities of partisans in Odessa during World War II.
In the 1950s and 1960s, Kataev was the editor of the journal Youth, where he
oversaw publications of young writers such as Aksenov, Gladilin, and Yevtushenko.
A turning point in Kataevs literary career was his The Little Iron Door in the Wall
(1964), a subjective account of Vladimir Lenin and his life on Capri and in Paris.
The book brought forth negative responses from Soviet critics, who accused Kataev
of letting his own personality dominate that of Lenin. In 1966, the literary magazine Novy mir published The Holy Well, a remarkable lyrical-philosophical account
of dreams experienced while the narrator is under anaesthesia for surgery. Clearly
reflecting the influence of Proust, Joyce, and Kafka, Kataev weaves scenes of his
family, friends, and lovers, events of Soviet history, and his travels in the United
States into a kind of stream-of-consciousness autobiography. Kataevs relentless
imagination, sensitivity, and originality made him one of the most distinguished
Soviet writers. Other volumes of reminiscences include The Grass of Oblivion
(1967), A Mosaic of Life; or, The Magic Horn of Oberon (1972), The Cemetery at


K i pl i n g , R u d ya r d

Skuliany (1975), My Diamond Crown (1978), Werter Has Been Written (1980), and
The Adolescents Novel (1983).
Ireneusz Szarycz

Further Reading
Borden, Richard C. The Art of Writing Badly: Valentin Kataevs Mauvism and the Rebirth of
Russian Modernism. Evanston, IL: Northwestern UP, 1999.
Russell, Robert. Valentin Kataev. Boston: Twayne, 1981.
Szarycz, Ireneusz. Poetics of Valentin Kataevs Prose of the 1960s and 1970s. New York: Peter
Lang, 1989.

K i pl i n g , R u d ya r d ( 1 8 6 5 1 9 3 6 )
Kipling was the first major English author to receive renown from tales about
India. He was born in the coastal city of Bombay (now Mumbai) to expatriate
English parents. His father, John Lockwood Kipling, was a teacher of sculpture
and the director of the Lahore Museum. Kipling went to England at a rather early
age and completed his college education in 1882. He returned to India the same
year to work as a journalist for the Civil and Military Gazette, located in Lahore.
Meanwhile, he was publishing poetry and fiction, and several pieces appeared in
the Gazette and other journals. He eventually returned to England and also spent a
number of years in the United States, possibly at the behest of his American wife,
whom he married in 1892. They returned to England a few years later and settled
in Sussex. Kim, Kiplings best-known work, was published in 1901. Other works
followed Kim, firmly establishing his reputation as an author. He was awarded
the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1907, becoming the first Englishman to win the
Adored by his admirers, Kipling was prolific. Particularly in the genre of colonial writing, he was seen as the author who possessed an insiders knowledge of the
natives, because the Englishmen he creates in his fiction display remarkable understanding of the complexities of native cultures. His reputation, on the other hand,
declined over timeeven during his lifetime. His jingoism seemed extreme even
to some of his right-wing contemporaries. His White Mans Burden, the poem he
wrote to assert the supremacy of white males, testifies to his undisguised chauvinism. As it heaps lavish praise on imperial ventures of all sorts, investing them with
high moral missions, it declares all nonwhites to be Half devil and half child.
Kiplings short stories, written primarily for young readers, earned huge popularity. His long fictions, on the other hand, were less successful, with the exception of
Kim. Though unequivocal in its faith in the salubrious effect of British rule in India,
this novel draws on Kiplings full powers as a storyteller. It describes the life of Kim,
an Irish boy orphaned in childhood in India. Kim grows up as a street urchin in the
city of Lahore; such is his assimilation into Indian culture that he is regarded as one
of the natives. At an early age, Kim becomes the disciple of a Tibetan lama who has

K i , D a n i l o

come to India on a holy quest. Circumstances change when Kim draws the attention of Colonel Creighton, an anthropologist secretly running the British intelligence
service in India known as the Great Game, which is primarily designed to prevent
Russian expansion, to preempt a rival imperial threat that Indias perilous northern
border makes distinctly viable. Trained in the art of the Game, Kim provides valuable
services to the empire. The story ends when he and his Tibetan guru successfully foil
a Russian move to instigate rebellion among northern rajas.
Farhad B. Idris
Further Reading
Lycett, Andrew. Rudyard Kipling. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1999.
McBranty, John. Imperial Subjects, Imperial Space: Rudyard Kiplings Fiction of the Native-Born.
Columbus: Ohio UP, 2002.
Moore-Gilbert, B. J. Kipling and Orientalism. New York: St. Martins, 1986.
Randall, Don. Kiplings Imperial Boy: Adolescence and Cultural Hybridity. London: Palgrave,

K i , Da n i l o ( 1 9 3 5 1 9 8 9 )
Danilo Ki was one of the most celebrated cultural icons of postWorld War II
Yugoslavia. Despite his relatively brief oeuvre, his literary work as well as his theoretical and political polemics addressed issues crucial to the Yugoslav cultural
scene. Ki was born in Subotica, of a Jewish father and Montenegrin Serb mother.
His father, an inspector of the Yugoslav railways, was deported to a concentration
camp, where he perished during the war. Kis own family background is crucial
to his family cycle novels, which include Bata, pepeo (Garden, Ashes, 1965),
Rani jadi (Early Sorrows, 1969), and Pecanik (Hourglass, 1972). Lyrically detached,
these works depict the chaos of postwar Europe, the loss and disorientation of its
people, and their overwhelming sense of alienation and solitude. Ki received the
prestigious NIN literary award for Pecanik.
In addition to their ironic and lyrical quality, Kis early novels contain central
elements that significantly inform his later works, particularly the intertwining of
factual and fictional elements in order to create a fantastic, parallel universe, and
a documentary style imposed on a world of literary imagination. While his early
novels borrowed facts from his family life, Ki utilizes facts from world history and
politics in his later works. His most famous novelGrobnica za Borisa Davidovica
(A Tomb for Boris Davidovich, 1976)is written as a closely interconnected collection of stories with characters resurfacing in different stories. The novel focuses
on the fate of Russian and European revolutionaries at the hands of the Stalinist Comintern in the 1930s. Borrowing from historical and biographical works of
other authors, Ki weaves a nightmarish picture of the 1930s Soviet landscape.
Although Ki received the Vjesnik Award for the novel, its publication was a
major scandal in Yugoslavia, even though Yugoslavia and its Stalinist past are never



Koestler, Arthur

mentioned explicitly. Kis specific engagement with the historical reality of Stalinism adds a great deal of substance to his text, but it seems safe to assume that the
novel is not so much a historical analysis of Stalinism as a cautionary tale about
the potential horrors of an ideology that still posed a threat to his own contemporary Yugoslavia. However, presumably ignoring these political implications of
the novel, a number of critics attacked Ki for his aesthetic principles and accused
him of plagiarism. This battle went on until 1978, when Ki seemed to settle the
account with the publication of his theoretical tour de force Cas anatomije (Anatomy lesson). Modeling his book on Miroslav Krleas Dijalekticki antibarbarus, Ki
attacked his opponents for their ignorance and incompetence, critically dissecting
their own aesthetic views. He brilliantly exposed the hollowness of their arguments
and their shortcomings as literary theoreticians and critics.
As a consequence of this controversy, Ki moved to France, where he spent the
rest of his life, visiting Yugoslavia only sporadically. He taught Serbo-Croatian and
Yugoslav literature at the Universities of Strasbourg, Bordeaux, and Lille. While in
exile, Ki published Enciklopedija mrtvih (Encyclopedia of the Dead, 1985), his last
major work, for which he received the Ivo Andric Award. Heavily influenced by
Jorge Luis Borges, the novels main theme is death and its metaphysical variations.
Aware of his fast-spreading lung cancer, Ki uses the novel to meditate on human
mortality. Despite his life being cut so short, he remains one of the most influential
Yugoslav writers. Controversies surrounding his name and work influenced many
Yugoslav authors from the mid-1970s onward, and enabled the younger generation to question issues of ideology, history, and politics that were unchallenged
until then. Together with Milan Kundera, Gyrgy Konrd, and Czeslaw Milosz,
Danilo Ki belongs to a circle of central European writers who defined the cultural
horizon of that region during the second part of the 20th century.
Dubravka Juraga
Further Reading
Birnbaum, Marianna D. History and Human Relationships in the Fiction of Danilo Ki.
Cross Currents 8 (1989): 34660.
Juraga, Dubravka, and M. Keith Booker. Literature, Power, and Oppression in Stalinist
Russia and Catholic Ireland: Danilo Kis Use of Joyce in A Tomb for Boris Davidovich.
South Atlantic Review 58.4 (November 1993): 3958.
Longinovic, Tomislav. Danilo Ki in Dictionary of Literary Biography: South Slavic Writers
since World War II. Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1997.
Matvejevic, Predrag. Danilo Ki: Encyclopedia of the Dead. Cross Currents 7 (1988): 33749.

Koestler, Arthur (19051983)

Born in Budapest, Koestler was the only son of Austro-Hungarian Jewish parents.
Although best remembered as the author of Darkness at Noon, Koestler shaped the

K o e s t l e r , A r t h u r

political world more deeply than in this one powerful depiction of Stalinist terror.
From 1922 until 1926, he studied science at the polytechnic in Vienna, where he
became a devoted Zionist. He left the university before graduation to go to Palestine. His experiences there served as inspiration for his first novel, Thieves in the
Night (1946). He left Palestine in 1927 after being hired by Ullsteins, a German
newspaper concern. He first worked for them as a correspondent in Paris. In 1930,
he moved to Berlin, where he became science editor of the Vossische Zeitung and
foreign editor of the Berliner Zeitung am Mittag.
In 1931, Koestler joined the German Communist Party. Within a year, he left his
position with Ullsteins and toured the Soviet Union in order to study that nations
Five-Year Plan. In 1933, he moved to Paris, where he worked for three years for
the Comintern. At the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War (19361939), Koestler
volunteered to go to Spain as a spy for the Comintern. After several such trips, he
was arrested by the nationalists and sentenced to death. Due to public pressure
in England, however, he was released. He wrote of his experiences in prison in
Spanish Testament (1938), later revised as Dialogue with Death (1942). An important period of Koestlers life ended in 1938 when, disillusioned with Stalinism and
the Moscow show trials, he resigned from the Communist Party. His signature
work, Darkness at Noon, was first published in 1940. With this book, his reputation was established, and Koestler became one of the principal spokesmen among
anti-Communist intellectuals.
In 1939, the French imprisoned him as a suspicious foreigner. This incarceration became the subject of an autobiographical work, Scum of the Earth (1941).
After his release, Koestler joined the French Foreign Legion and eventually escaped
to England, where he spent 1941 and 1942 in the British Pioneer Corps. In The
God That Failed (1950), Koestler wrote of his personal disillusionment with Communism. This book contains similar testimonies from other exfellow travelers
such as Andr Gide, Stephen Spender, Richard Wright, and Ignazio Silone. In
1955, Koestler announced in The Trial of the Dinosaur and Other Essays (written
19451954) that he was through with political writing.
In 1959, Koestler began a new phase in his writing career with a history of astronomy, The Sleepwalkers: A History of Mans Changing Vision of the Universe. Other notable books from this period include two volumes on the psychology of creativity, The
Act of Creation (1964) and Ghost in the Machine (1967). In 1965, Koestler married
Cynthia Jefferies. They lived in London, where he wrote numerous books and essays
on a number of topics, until they both committed suicide on March 3, 1983.
Andrea Tyndall
Further Reading
Cesarani, David. Arthur Koestler: The Homeless Mind. New York: Free P, 1998.
Hamilton, Iain. Koestler: A Biography. London: Macmillan, 1982.
Koestler, Cynthia. Stranger on the Square. Ed. Harold Harris. London: Hutchinson, 1984.



K o ll o n ta i , Al e x a n d r a

K o ll o n ta i , A l e x a n d r a ( 1 8 7 3 1 9 5 2 )
Alexandra Kollontai was born into a Russian aristocratic family of Finnish descent.
In 1893, she married Vladimir Kollontai, an engineer. While observing his professional work, she had an opportunity to see the deplorable conditions of the
Russian working class. This had a major impact on her, and she became involved
in lifelong political work centered on the improvement of these conditions. She
began to study Marxism and, in 1899, leaving her husband and her son behind,
went to Zurich to study political economy and Marxism, eventually becoming a
leading figure in Soviet politics. Her main focus was the improvement of womens
social and political status.
A skilled orator, Kollontai was often sought to speak at public meetings or to
workers in factories, to write speeches, and to do propaganda work. She also used
her public skills abroad, most often in Western Europe. In 1907, she participated
in the international conference of Socialist women in Germany. In 1909, she joined
the German Social Democratic Party; in 1910, she participated at the Eighth Congress of the Second International. In 1915, Kollontai, a Menshevik, joined the
Bolshevik faction of the Social Democrats in support of their antiwar position. A
productive writer, she wrote pamphlets, essays, speeches, lectures, and books.
During the Russian Revolution and the years that followed, Kollontai was politically active on many different fronts. In 1917, she was the only woman elected
to the Central Committee and the first commissar of social welfare. In 1919, she
became the commissar of propaganda and agitation of the Ukraine, but by the end
of the year she refocused her attention on womens issues and the Zhenotdel, the
department within the committee that dealt with these issues.
Kollontai was instrumental in changing marriage and family laws after the revolution, as well as a variety of other social and welfare legislation. She emphasized
the need to involve women in political life and argued that womens issues had to
be addressed at the same time as other political and economic issues. Her often
misunderstood radical views concerned sexual politics; personal relations; and
marriage, love, and sexuality unfettered by bourgeois property relations. In all her
writings, political as well as fictional, she emphasized the importance of womens
emancipation, especially their economic independence. A striking woman of great
beauty and charm, with a flamboyant lifestyle reflecting her ideas, she was often
regarded critically by her comrades.
Kollontais prolific oeuvre includes The Social Basis of the Womans Question
(1909), The New Morality and the Working Class (1918), The Family and the
Communist State, Women Workers Struggle for their Rights (1919), The Working Woman and the Peasant Woman in Soviet Russia, Prostitution and Ways of
Fighting It (1921), Make Way for the Winged Eros (1923), and About the New
Law on the Family and Marriage (1926). Her major fictional works include the
trilogies A Great Love (1927) and Love of Worker Bees (1923). The story Vasilisa
Malygina from the latter trilogy is known as Red Love in its English translation.
The Autobiography of a Sexually Emancipated Woman (1920) examines the ways an
emancipated and independent woman addresses issues of sexuality and love.
During 1920, she supported the Workers Opposition faction of the Bolshevik Party, which criticized the party for its lack of democracy and increasing

K r l e a , M i r o s l av

bureaucratization. As a consequence, the post of advisor to the Soviet legation

in Norway, to which Kollontai was appointed in 1922, was a diplomatic way of
removing her from political activity in the Soviet Union. From then on, her career
was in the field of diplomacy: she served as an ambassador to Norway and Sweden,
a trade delegate to Mexico, and a delegate to the League of Nations. She was an
advisor to the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs when she died of a heart attack in
Dubravka Juraga
Further Reading
Clements, Barbara Evans. Bolshevik Feminist: The Life of Aleksandra Kollontai. Bloomington:
Indiana UP, 1979.
Ebert, Teresa L. Left of Desire. Cultural Logic 3.1 (Fall 1999Spring 2000) http://eserver.
Farnsworth, Beatrice. Aleksandra Kollontai: Socialism, Feminism, and the Bolshevik Revolution.
Stanford, CA: Stanford UP, 1980.
Holt, Alix, ed. Alexandra Kollontai: Selected Writings, with an Introduction and Commentaries
by Alix Holt. New York: Norton, 1977.
Ingermanson, Birgitta. The Political Function of Domestic Objects in the Fiction of Aleksandra Kollontai. Slavic Review (Spring 1989): 7182.

K r l e a , M i r o s lav ( 1 8 9 3 1 9 8 1 )
Miroslav Krlea is generally considered one of the greatest Yugoslav intellectuals
and writers of the 20th century. Krlea was born in Zagreb (then Austria-Hungary).
From the early beginnings of his literary career, his political views significantly
informed his literary output even though he always insisted on the separation of
artistic creation from political commitment. Fiercely disappointed by World War I,
the Balkan Wars of 19101911, and their underlying ideology of bourgeois nationalism, Krlea espoused Communist ideas and welcomed the Russian Revolution
as the best alternative for the worlds poor and underprivileged. In his collection of
essays Izlet u Rusiju (An Excursion to Russia, 1926), he discusses the Soviet society he
then visited. During 19201940, Krlea worked as an editor for a number of literary journals frequently banned by the police. In those journals, he also fought ideological battles on many sides. His superb polemics against bourgeois nationalistic
writers collected in Moj obracun s njima (My conflict with them, 1932) provide some
of the finest Yugoslav examples of literary and cultural polemics. Krlea attacked
Croatian bourgeois intellectual and religious leaders for their endorsement of the
perpetuation of capitalist exploitation and social misery in Croatia. His literary
output, such as the play cycle about the family GlembayGospoda Glembajevi (The
Noble Glembays, 1928), U agoniji (In agony, 1931), and Leda (Leda, 1930)as well
as the collection of poems Balade Petrice Kerempuha (Ballads of Petrica Kerempuh,
1936), the collections of essays Deset krvavih godina (Ten bloody years, 1937) and
Eppur si muove: studije i osvrti (Eppur Si Muove: studies and reflections, 1938) also
condemned the decadent and sterile Croatian bourgeoisie.



Kundera, Milan

Krleas novels also strongly support his political views. He fiercely criticizes the
decadent and reactionary ideology of Croatian bourgeoisie in his Povratak Filipa
Latinovibca (The Return of Philip Latinovicz, 1932) and Na rubu pameti (On the Edge
of Reason, 1938). In the nightmarish phantasmagoria Banket u Blitvi (A banquet in
Blitva, 19381939), he warns that a dystopian terror will be a realistic outcome of a
military dictatorship supported by decadent bourgeoisie. In these novels, as in his
later play Aretej (Areteus, 1959), Krlea is particularly interested in the relationship
of intellectuals and power.
In addition to the debates with bourgeois intellectuals, Krlea actively participated in the 1930s polemics on the Left about the relationship between aesthetic
values and political commitment, particularly with regard to Socialist realism.
Krlea supported the view that argued for the separation of art from political activism. He is often pointed out as the writer who almost single-handedly defeated
the writers who insisted on the importance of political views for creative output
and on adherence to the principles of Socialist realism. His essays in Dijalekticki
antibarbarus (Dialectical antibarbarian, 1939) address this literary agenda. However, at the end of his career, in his perhaps finest though unfinished novel Zastave
(Banners, 1967), he returns to the principles of Socialist realism, ultimately proving
that it is possible to create a superb literary artifact while following the principles
of Socialist realism.
Krlea was also the chief editor of the first Yugoslav encyclopedia Enciklopedija
Jugoslavije (19551971). His essays and diaries Davni Dani (Days long gone, 1956)
and Dnevnik (Diaries, 1977) are excellent documents about the cultural and political climate of Yugoslavia in the 20th century.
Dubravka Juraga
Further Reading
Bogert, Ralph. The Writer as Naysayer: Miroslav Krlea and the Aesthetic of Interwar Central
Europe. Columbus, OH: Slavica, 1991.
Juraga, Dubravka. Miroslav Krleas Zastave: Socialism, Yugoslavia, and the Historical
Novel. South Atlantic Review 62.4 (Fall 1997): 3256.
Kadic, Ante. Miroslav Krlea. Dictionary of Literary Biography: South Slavic Writers before
World War II. Detroit: Gale Research, 1995.
Krtalic, Ivan. Krlea, za i protiv (19141927). 2 vols. Zagreb: Komunist, 1988.

K u n d e r a , M i la n ( 1 9 2 9 )
Milan Kundera was born in Brno, Czechoslovakia. His first novel, The Joke, was
published in Czech in 1967. After the 1968 Russian invasion, his works were
banned; Kundera eventually immigrated to France, where he became a citizen
in 1981. Although Kundera has rightly protested that the meaning of his fiction
is not exhausted by its political message, his critique of the Czech Communist
regime in particular is both powerful and unique. Kunderas fiction does not make
a straightforward moral condemnation of the tyranny of Stalinist-era Communism

K u n d e r a , M i l a n

but instead dramatizes the often comic gap between the romantic illusions sponsored by Communism and the prosaic reality of everyday life. In doing so, Kundera is carrying on what he sees as the great tradition of the novel inaugurated by
Cervantes in Don Quixote. The main character of The Joke wants to be a loyal Communist but discovers that the revolution, while demanding that its followers be
joyful, has no toleration for humor, satire, or jokes. Deprived of the insight humor
can provide, true believers like Helena are able to convince themselves that their
devotion to the party is simple idealism. Life Is Elsewhere (1969) explores the political irresponsibility inherent in lyric poetrys expression of personal emotion alone.
Jaromil, the young protagonist of the novel, writes surrealistic love poetry without
having any sexual experience, and celebrates revolution while lacking any political
understanding. According to Kundera, the novel was prompted by the willingness
of the poet Paul luard to write poetry in honor of the Communist regime even as
personal friends were being condemned to death in show trials.
The seven stories that make up The Book of Laughter and Forgetting (1979) powerfully indict the 1968 Communist invasion of Czechoslovakia and the regime it
installed, but Kundera never descends to a melodramatic portrayal of heroes and
villains. His dissenters, like Mirek in the first story Lost Letters, are capable of
nobility but also pettiness and meanness. Mirek condemns the regime for rewriting
history, but he himself wants to rewrite his own past by destroying old love letters
to a woman he now considers embarrassingly unattractive. In an autobiographical
section, Kundera describes how he himself was suddenly seized by a desire to rape
a woman who was risking prison to help him avoid the police.
Kunderas targets include not only Communism but also the kind of progressivism whose primary function is to proclaim ones own moral goodness. The
members of the Clevis family in The Border, the last story in The Book of Laughter
and Forgetting, are all careful to hold opinions that are provocative enough to be
certified as progressive but also popular enough to be safe. Franz, in The Unbearable Lightness of Being (1984), believes in the Grand March, a view of history
whose kitschy appeal depends on seeing history as progress from revolution to
revolution without detours or reversals. Kunderas fiction ridicules the illusions of
the Right as well as the Left, but his most immediate and most vulnerable target is
the utopian romanticism associated primarily with the Left.
James Seaton
Further Reading
Banerjee, Maria Nmcov. Terminal Paradox: The Novels of Milan Kundera. New York: Grove
Weidenfeld, 1990.
Misurella, Fred. Understanding Milan Kundera: Public Events, Private Affairs. Columbia: U of
South Carolina P, 1993.
Petro, Peter, ed. Critical Essays on Milan Kundera. New York: G. K. Hall, 1999.
Seaton, James. Milan Kundera vs. Richard Rorty. South Carolina Review 29.1 (Fall 1996):


La Guma, Alex (19251985)
Alex La Guma was born into a politically active family in Cape Towns District Six.
His father, Jimmy La Guma, was a member of the executive of the Industrial and
Commercial Workers Union of Africa, and by the time Alex was one year old, his
father was on the central committee of the Communist Party of South Africa. Jimmy
La Guma went on to become the secretary of the Western Cape African National
Congress (ANC). It was into this politically charged environment that Alex was
thrust at an early age and from which he attempted, in the 1930s and early 1940s,
both to join the International Brigade to fight the Fascists in the Spanish Civil
War and to enlist in the army to fight in World War II; both offers were refused. In
1947, he became a member of the Young Communist League, although he had to
strategically distance himself from the movement after three years, when it decided
to disband rather than be banned by the national party.
Alex La Guma was a politically active writer fully committed to the antiapartheid struggle. His credentials as an activist were impeccable: he was a member of
the executive committee of the South African Coloured Peoples Organisation in
1954 and its chairman in 1955, and later that year, he was elected to lead a delegation to the Congress of the People in Kliptown, Johannesburg. La Guma was a
staunch opponent of the racist government of South Africa, and as such, his life
was at risk several times: he survived an assassination attempt in 1958 and was
one of the 155 charged in the infamous treason trial of 19561961. Several further
spells of imprisonment and house arrest culminated in his leaving the country
of his birth in 1966 on a one-way exit permit. He spent a brief period of time in
Britain before moving to Cuba, where he was the ANCs Caribbean spokesperson
until his death in 1985. La Gumas keen political sense would pervade the journalism with which he started his writing career, and his eclectic and resourceful
comprehension of South African struggles would underpin the contexts he went
on to create in his novels.
As well as being a journalist, La Guma was an accomplished cartoonist, having
created the character Little Libby, whose adventures were featured in New Age. La
Guma wrote five novels: A Walk in the Night (1962), And a Threefold Cord (1964),
The Stone Country (1967), In the Fog of the Seasons End (1972), and Time of the Butcherbird (1979). In the Fog of the Seasons End has received considerable international
critical attention, and the evocative A Walk in the Night, which recounts the turbulent events of a single evening in District Six, is a remarkable novel thatalthough


Lamming, George

banned when it was first published, has found a place on South African curricula.
La Guma is heralded as one of Africas best novelists.
Nahem Yousaf

Further Reading
Abrahams, Cecil A. Alex La Guma. Boston: Twayne, 1985.
Asein, Samuel. Alex La Guma: The Man and His Work. Ibadan: New Horn/Heinemann, 1987.
Balutansky, Kathleen. The Novels of Alex La Guma: The Representation of a Political Conflict.
Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 1990.
Chandramohan, Balasubramanyam. A Study in Trans-Ethnicity in Modern Africa: The Writings
of Alex La Guma. Lewiston, NY: Mellen Research UP, 1992.
Odendaal, Andre, and Roger Field, eds. Liberation Chabalala: The World of Alex La Guma.
Bellville: Mayibuye Books, 1993.
Yousaf, Nahem. Alex La Guma: Politics and Resistance. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2001.

Lamming, George (1927 )

Born in obscure Carringtons Village near Bridgetown, Barbados, George Lamming
shot to international fame and canonical status in modern Caribbean Literature
(Anglophone) with his first novel, In the Castle of My Skin (1953). Like G., the firstperson narrator in the novel, who says that it was my mother who really fathered
me, Lamming grew up in a struggling, single-parent household and eventually
migrated to Trinidad in search of employment. Initially known for his short stories and poems, he left for England in 1950 with plans for his first novel already
germinating; he published his remaining novels in a span of about 20 years before
returning to Barbados, where he is now based. While Lammings decision to return
to his native island is unusual among most Caribbean writers who migrated to
the United Kingdom, the United States, and later Canada, he shares with them
common themes, even if his poetic style and political positions bear his distinct,
often uncompromising stamp. His first collection of essays, The Pleasures of Exile
(1960), can be read as a literary treatise on what he considers to be the major
preoccupations of modern Caribbean writing in English: the apparent inevitability
of exile from islands with an economically and artistically impoverished heritage;
the importance of black peasant life in Barbados; the struggle to find a national
language and identity that would break free from centuries of slavery and inherited
colonial traditions; the gradual establishment of a regional affiliation; the internal
tensions of a multiracial and multiethnic Caribbean; the hope and failure of independence. His famous revisionist reading of Shakespeares Caliban in Pleasures,
where he claims a heroic, revolutionary role for the slave and makes Prospero
instead the monster, sets the tone for Lammings fierce challenges to white, middle-class, Euro-American notions of cultural and moral superiority, and for his
passionate commitment to forging an ethical if combative Caribbean politics.
Lammings novelsfor all their dense prose, fragmented voices, and diffuse
plotsmake a surprisingly coherent and compact statement on colonial and

L at i n A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

postcolonial Caribbean history, although not in strictly chronological order. His first
novel deals with the impact of colonial education, the rise of the nationalist movement, and the influence of the 1930s labor riots on the latter. The Emigrants (1954)
is set in the 1950s mass migration to England and broodingly explores the dilemmas
of black migrants in a hostile mother country. Of Age and Innocence (1958) literally
returns to the Caribbean from England through the failed messianic leader, John
Isaac Shephard, and introduces the imaginary San Cristobal, which Lamming uses
in later novels as a typical Caribbean island. It also deepens the foreboding tone
of earlier novels and foretells troubled times for the postindependence period and
ethnic electoral politicsa historically accurate prediction in the case of British Guiana and Trinidad. Season of Adventure (1960) is arguably anomalous in the oeuvre,
with a more (for Lamming) optimistic view and a central female character. But even
here, a brief peoples revolution, modeled along the initial hopes of revolutionary
Haiti and, later, Cuba, is not uniformly triumphant. Water with Berries (1971) shifts
between England and San Cristobal and, continuing the explosive challenge to the
Prospero-Caliban-Miranda triad of Shakespeares The Tempest, suggests a Fanonesque
violence, both internecine and anticolonial. Lammings last novel, Natives of My Person (1972), is an allegorical representation of the first slaving and settlement expeditions that repopulated the Caribbean, virtually exterminated the native populations,
and refashioned the islands into plantations. Now followed by a new generation of
writers, many of them women, Lamming occupies the status of respected elder in the
Anglophone Caribbean, where he has left an enduring literary legacy.
Supriya Nair
Further Reading
Da Silva, A. J. Simoes. The Luxury of Nationalist Despair: George Lammings Fiction as Decolonizing Project. Atlanta, GA: Rodopi, 2000.
Lamming, George. The Pleasures of Exile. 1960. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1992.
Nair, Supriya. Calibans Curse: George Lamming and the Revisioning of History. Ann Arbor: U
of Michigan P, 1996.
Paquet, Sandra Pouchet. The Novels of George Lamming. London: Heinemann, 1982.

L at i n A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e
There exists a widespread idea, at least on the Left, according to which literature
and politics achieve a kind of synthesis in Latin America that has eluded the rest of
the world. Where the linking of political and literary avant-gardes once envisioned,
say, by Communists and constructivists in the early days of the Soviet Union or
by surrealists and Marxists in preWorld War II Paris soon come to grief, whether
at the hands of Zhdanovism or of petty bourgeois individualism or aestheticism,
Latin America offers us the synthetic avant-gardism of the unflinchingly Communist-cum-surrealist Pablo Neruda, or the doubly revolutionary filmmaking of
Cuban director Toms Gutirrez Alea. A more sweeping version of this idea extends
the successful union of the avant-gardes to the third world generally, but its Latin



L at i n A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

American variation probably gets the most play because it was the generation of
Latin American writers and critics who were to gain the first genuinely world audience for Latin American literature, the boom generation, that presented itself to
the world this way. In the historic prologue (1949) to the first edition of his novel
on the Haitian RevolutionThe Kingdom of This World (El reino de este mundo)the
Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier evoked ethnographic concepts of popular culture and religion to account for this synthetic possibility: because the experience
of day-to-day life in Latin America was itself still mediated by the premodern and
in effect pre-realist narratives of tribalist and peasant societies, the merely private
and self-induced defamiliarizations of Parisian surrealists and of the metropolitan
avant-garde generally could findsay, in Haiti or Cubaa public and spontaneous
soil in which to take root. The writer or artist had only to situate him- or herself at
the dialectical intersection of these two disparate worldshypermodern and premodernfor the new literary possibility to burst forth.
As the formula for what, following Francophone currents, Carpentier would
refer to in Spanish as the real maravilloso (the rel merveilleux or marvelously
real), this same idea could more directly take on political articulations as well.
Indeed, the hypothetical possibilities set forth by the great Peruvian Marxist Jos
Carlos Maritegui and other indigenistas in the 1920s of an Incan socialism
(rooted here in the purportedly still viable institution of the ayllu, or indigenous
village commune) already foresaw something akin to this, even if Maritegui
remained skeptical, failing the revolution itself, of its literary possibilities. The art
of the Mexican muralists Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros, and Jos Clemente Orozco
in the 1930s and 1940sseemingly realist, modernist, and popular all at once
also partook, both objectively and subjectively, in this dialectic, though, curiously,
such revolutionary painting had as yet no (Mexican) literary equivalent. But by the
time the real maravilloso morphed into magical realismafter the Cuban revolution of 1959 and the literary revolution unleashed by Gabriel Garca Mrquezs
novel One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien aos de soledad, 1967)the fairy-tale
marriage of literature and (revolutionary) politics had come to seem almost as
typically Latin American as guitars or volcanoes. The earlier, path-breaking work
of Latin Americas great revolutionary poetsabove all, that of Neruda, heretofore
largely unknown outside the Spanish-speaking worldrode the crest of the boom
into the tastes of a cosmopolitan, Left public sphere.
To pronounce all of this a myth has now, nevertheless, become almost as much an
article of accepted wisdom as the idea of a revolutionary literary-political synthesis
itself. For one thing, of course, the latter leaves out of the picture three rather large
pieces of Latin American literary history: (1) those major modern Latin American
writers, such as Jorge Luis Borges and the later Mario Vargas Llosa, whose literary avant-gardism is either resolutely nonpolitical or linked to right-wing politics;
(2) almost all of pre-20th-century Latin American literary history, especially that of
the 19th century, during which period the vaunted literary-political synthesis often
failed and, when it succeeded, produced distinctly dystopian results; and (3) the
radically changed and itself much more dystopian contemporary literary-political
scene in Latin America. A theory of the literary-political relation able to encompass

L at i n A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

both these, so to speak, utopian and dystopian moments within the full expanse of
Latin American literature and history must, in fact, begin on a deeper, less obvious
plane. This is the plane on which the vaunted happy union of Latin American literature and politics is revealed as simply one perhaps serendipitous variation on a
more fundamental relation: the chronic impossibility of their divorce.
The colonial period in Latin America already, in effect, betrays the presence
of this relation of the nondivorcible in the very fact that, formally speaking, it
contains no Latin American literature at all. What passes for literature in the eyes
of the Spanish colonial regime is really just derivative and second-rate Spanish literature, as in the case of Alonso de Ercillas Virgilian epic of the Spanish conquest
of Chile, La araucana. The only works produced in Latin America during just over
three centuries (the 16th through the 18th) of colonial rule that evoke a literary
response beyond the confines of the vice-royal courts or their decrepit remains
are, technically, nonliterary. These are, above all, the many so-called chronicles of
conquest and colonization, whether authored by subaltern conquistadores such
as Bernal Daz del Castillo or by quasi-assimilated, high-ranking native supplicants such as the minor Incan nobleman Guamn Poma de Ayala. They are, almost
invariably, political works, here for the simple reason that they are addressed to a
public still understood in its royal, courtly form. Even the greatest of these, el Inca
Garcilaso de la Vegas Royal Commentaries (Comentarios reales, 1609), which incorporates preconquest Incan legend into its history of the conquest of Peru, obeys a
preeminently political imperative: to plead indirectly the case for acceptance and
integration of middle-ranking mestizos such as the author within Spanish imperial
society. And because this society both exercises a monopoly on the literary itself
and works to exclude noncourtiers, Garcilasos only viable claim to recognition
isin early-modern termsalso a political one: the certification of a parallel Incan
courtly lineage. From this standpoint, the considerable literary, quasi-epic qualities
of the Royal Commentaries are collateral, even accidental, benefits. The case of Sor
Juana Ins de la Cruz, colonial Mexicos great, late-baroque poetess, is roughly
analogous. Her poetry, superlative as it often is, requires the metropolitan courtly
seal. Without this political license, no literatureand therefore no non-Spanish,
Latin American literatureis possible. Or rather, the latter is possible, but only if
the absolute political constraints placed on the literary are abrogated, as they are in
Sor Juanas most widely read work: the so-called Letter of Reply to Sister Filotea
(Carta de respuesta a Sor Filotea, 1691), in which, threatened with official censure,
the poetess drops the sanctioned persona of the baroque court and the convent
and, however briefly and unconsciously, invents a 17th-century avant-garde.
The formal end of colonial rule that marks the early 19th century in Latin
America obviously supplies the precondition for the autonomizing of literature, its
divorce from the rigid, directly political constraints of the colonial regime. But
the immediate result of independence is the even greater exacerbation of a political
over-determination of all other social spheres, here brought on by civil wars and the
generalized social violence of new state and class formation. The modern intellectual
division of labor that delineates politics and literature, although present in ideal
form in Latin America with the first incursions of liberal ideology, must nevertheless



L at i n A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

continuously break down in the face of the continuous states of exception that
turn most 19th-century Latin American novels (e.g., Jos Mrmols Amalia, 1851)
into fictionalized propaganda. But it is the same historical conditions that likewise
transform such tracts as Sarmientos Facundo (1845)a biography-cum-travelogue
written in exile for the immediate purpose of denouncing the latters political enemiesinto one of 19th-century Latin Americas most remarkable works of literature,
and perhaps yet another unwitting, even unwilling form of avant-gardism, one that
has in some sense moved beyond conventional fictional form.
And it is in fact this ideally affirmed but socially deferred division of intellectual labor between the poet and the politicianwhat the Brazilian critic Roberto
Schwarz would call a misplaced ideaout of which the modern, romanticized
figure of the Latin American writer-revolutionary itself develops. Despite the fact
that Sarmientoonce he puts down the pen to pick up the sword of politics
itselfbecomes more the immediate ancestor of a Pinochet than of a Che, the
formal gesture of a politically overdetermined resort to literary activism makes
him the ancestor of a Jorge Amado or of an Ernesto Cardenal as well. Even with
the birth of the literary movement known as modernismo at the end of the 19th
centurya movement of French symbolist-influenced poets, whose central figure,
Rubn Daro, a social conservative and intimate of dictators, is probably Latin
Americas first orthodox vanguardist writerthe forced marriage of literature to
politics merely changes form. In content, for the most part, a pastiche of the Parnassian, Daros poetry achieves a revolution in form that is in every sense politically overdetermined: it makes it possible for Latin American writers to produce,
in Spanish, a style from which all traces of colonial tutelage have been expunged.
Meanwhile, Daros master and the other great figure of modernismo, Jos Marta
poet and martyr of Cuban national liberationturns newspaper prose, the art of
the pamphlet, and old-fashioned political oratory into an unheard of form of vanguard prose-poetry. The most famous of these writings, Nuestra Amrica, Latin
Americas ur-manifesto, somehow combines pre-Raphaelite-like preciosity and
imagistic clutter with rhetorical bombast to produce political-aesthetic intensities
that have never since been equaled and that have yet to be adequately theorized.
These, at any rate, are the kinds of historical configurations that, once the Latin
American bourgeoisies have exhausted their last remaining revolutionary energies
in directly political exploits on the order of the Mexican Revolution and Peronism,
position the novelists and poets of Cold War Latin America to mount the barricades of national liberation and anti-imperialism with words as well as guns. The
self-interested mythologies of the boom and magical realism aside, there is no
question that the tradition of revolutionary poetry in Central AmericaCardenal,
Roque Dalton, Otto Ren Castillo, Daisy Zamorarepresents a synthesis of revolutionary literature and politics that a country like the United States is totally incapable of producing. And the same can probably be said for so-called testimonio
literature, catapulted into world notoriety first by the new, plebeian social realism
of the Cuban Revolution; later by the narratives emerging from human-rights campaigns under the dirty war regimes in Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay; and by the
extraordinary story of Guatemalas Rigoberta Mench.

L at i n a / o L i t e r at u r e

Still, the question remains: With what may be the effective defeat of the radical
social movements of the Cold War period in Latin America, will the marriage of
the avant-gardesor, rather, their chronic failure to divorcefinally give way to
the reifying division of intellectual labor that has long since turned experimental
novelists into academics and poets into insurance company executives (and vice
versa) in countries like the United States? Judging from the apparent stagnation
of much recent Latin American literature, this may be the trend. Yet to suppose
so would be to suppose that the social modernization proclaimed but never quite
obtained by Latin Americas ruling elites since the days of Sarmiento, whether of
the Right or the Left, had finally arrived, bringing with it the end of literatures
messy overdetermination by the political. But the most recent social crises in Latin
America may in fact mark the definitive failure, not the belated success, of (capitalist) modernization. If so, then the forever divorcing but chronically overdetermined inseparability of literature and politics in Latin America may be in the
process of entering still another, unscripted phase.
Neil Larsen
Further Reading
Beverley, John, and Marc Zimmerman. Literature and Politics in the Central American Revolutions. Austin: U Texas P, 1990.
Larsen, Neil. Determinations: Essays on Theory, Nation and Narrative in the Americas. London:
Verso, 2001.
Larsen, Neil. Reading North by South. Minneapolis: Minnesota UP, 1990.
Monsivis, Carlos. Amor perdido. Mexico City: Biblioteca Era, 1978.
Rama, Angel. La ciudad letrada. Hanover, NH: Ediciones del Norte, 1984.
Schwarz, Roberto. Misplaced Ideas: Essays on Brazilian Culture. London: Verso, 1992.

L at i n a / o L i t e r at u r e
The widely varied field of Latina/o literature is as much a creation of U.S. publishers looking to publicize and categorize writers in order to sell books as it is
of writers who are actually producing similar texts. Authors grouped in this way
range from Isabel Allende, who writes in Spanish and is from Chile, and Native
American activist Rigoberta Mench (also writing in Spanish, from Guatemala) to
Chicana, Puerto Rican, and Cuban American writers like Ana Castillo, Sandra Cisneros, Alejandro Morales, Judith Ortiz Cofer, Cristina Garcia, and Oscar Hijuelos,
who all write in English with Spanish mixed in.
Latina/o literature can be considered to begin in the 19th century with the
Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo that ended the Mexican-American War (18461848)
and ceded the northern half of what was then Mexico to the United States. While
texts have been written since then, the true bloom of this writing came in the late
1960s and early 1970s. Writers such as Toms Rivera, Rudolfo Anaya, Rolando
Hinojosa-Smith, and Pedro Juan Soto; critics such as Luis Dvila and Nicols
Kanellos; and publishing house Quinto Sol began telling stories from the barrio,



L at i n a / o L i t e r at u r e

as well as stories from rural Texas, the Island (Puerto Rico), and Nueva Yol (New
York). Infusions of Cuban exiles followed after Fidel Castros takeover in 1959,
adding a critical mass to earlier Cuban immigrants. These three groupingsMexican Americans, Puerto Ricans, and Cubans (in exile or Cuban Americans)are
the main subsets that originally produced much of the Latina/o literature, but they
have been joined by exiles, immigrants, and their children from all over Latin
American, including writers such as Allende (Chile), Julia lvarez (Dominican
Republic), Alicia Partnoy (Argentina), and Ariel Dorfman (Chile).
While these subcategories are often quite dissimilar, some general characteristics
are spread across the works, particularly those that are written in a mix of English
and Spanish from the 1980s and later. Language and culture go hand-in-hand, and
as cultural critic Gloria Anzalda has noted, there are multiple levels of Spanish
within the United Statesdepending not only on the original nationality of the
immigrant parents but also on their socioeconomic status, what sort of community
they live in, and where that community is located. As the protagonist of Garcias
Dreaming in Cuban (1992) notes: I envy my mother her Spanish curses sometimes.
They make my English collapse in a heap. Such linguistic anxiety is common, and
a point of separation between Latinas, especially, as each judges and is judged for
authenticity. Another common concern is the struggle to fit into the Anglocentric
U.S. culture while still holding on to a semblance of autonomous identity that is
not dictated by either a culturally dominant (and often patriarchal) Anglo society
or a patriarchal Latina society. Novels such as Cisneross The House on Mango Street
(1984), Castillos So Far from God (1993), Garcias Dreaming, Ortiz Cofers The Line
of the Sun (1989), and Mara Amparo Escandns Esperanzas Box of Saints (1999) all
feature women who must make their way in an Anglo mans world.
Castillos vision is by far the darkest, for the four sisters of her novel are all
killed by that worldthe eldest as a newscaster in Iraq; the second poisoned in a
chemical factory and then blamed by her Anglo bosses for misusing the chemicals
(when in actuality the men gave them to her in exchange for a pay raise); the third
disappears in midair after jumping off a cliff (following her rape and mutilation
at the hands of an anonymous man), and the last dies of AIDS, but a virgin. The
common factor between them is that all are killed following their contact with
menoften Anglo men, but also Latino and Native American menand by venturing into the public mens world outside the home. This vision of Anglos as
deadly can be traced back to Riveras ...And the Earth Did Not Devour Him (...y
no se lo trag la tierra, 1970), where Anglos are, in turn, a child killer, bullies,
racists, liars, friends to a Latino couple that murders and robs illegal immigrants,
unfaithful, and irreligious. Going even further, Anzalda symbolizes death using
Anglo culture and the color white in her seminal Borderlands/La Frontera (1987);
and in Cisneross story collection Woman Hollering Creek (1991), Anglos are seducers, liars, and cheats, and other men are abusive and unfeeling or incapable of
expressing positive emotions.
The men who write Latina/o literature tend to portray a darker vision of the
world also. This is evidenced in the early work by Rivera, as well as works by Gary
Soto, Morales, Luis Valdez (particularly in his earlier El Teatro Campesino years),

L at i n a / o L i t e r at u r e

and even in Hijueloss Pulitzer Prizewinning The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
(1989). It is here that we see a pair of Cuban brothers, musicians, on their way up
in the New York music scene. They meet Desi Arnaz and play on the I Love Lucy
show, gain some popularity, then lose everything as one brother dies and the other
loses his heart because of it. The story is told as reminiscences of the surviving
brother, drinking himself to death in the ironically named Hotel Splendor while
listening to the records of his youth. Following his brothers death, he abandoned
his musical dreams and became a handyman and then a building superintendent.
His nephew, a bitter and withdrawn young man, eventually follows in his fathers
footsteps and meets Arnaz, now very old. Both feel a sense of loss for the period of
the 1950s when Mambo was king, and Cubans in the United States were not yet in
exile. There is a longing for this lost pastas a child longs for a lost parent, so too
does a culture of Cubans in exile long for a more certain timewhere social and
gender roles are easy and clear. Living life on the hyphen, as critic Gustavo Prez
Firmat notes, is about translation and transition. Those who are between cultures
live on the hyphen in Cuban-American and are at once familiar with and not at
home in both cultures. The past is inaccessibly remote, with its old strictures, but
the present and future are almost as isolated because of the need to abandon that
past to join mainstream Anglo culture; spiritual or economic death seem to be the
only options open, whether the men are Chicano, Puerto Rican, or Cuban.
While men such as Hijuelos have played and continue to play an important role in
the Latina/o literary movement, particularly in the early years, women have become
much more widely marketed and read since the 1980s and 1990s, particularly with
the appearance of Cisneros. Her success opened the way for other female authors,
and their success can be attributed in part to the fact that women are readers much
more than men are, but an equally strong cultural reason for the success can be
explained by the ways in which cultures interact. Dominant cultures do not merely
shape minority cultures but are shaped in turn. This absorption of culture can be
seen not only in the popularity of Latina/o literature (and other ethnic/minority writings) in the United States but also in the fact that women from other cultures are
viewed as exotic, alluring, often sensuala hot tamale, as Ortiz Cofer notes of
her own personal experience, where she has been importuned by drunken Anglos
singing sexually explicit songs to her in public. These women are objects of sexual
desire and conquest; their absorption is viewed by dominant cultures as a way of
taming the other and demonstrating cultural (and patriarchal) power. In direct
opposition to this, the males of minority cultures are demonized and represented
as dangerous by the dominant culture. The subordinate males are represented as
oversexed, subhuman monsters incapable of holding true humanity or forming part
of civilized society. Thus, while male authors continue to produce texts, it is their
female counterparts who receive contracts from major publishing houses and greater
financial rewards. This tension is suggestive of yet another point of commonality
among writers classified as Latina/o authorsthat of a social, cultural, and political
struggle for recognition and acceptance on their own terms.
Jason G. Summers



Le Guin, Ursula K.

Further Reading
lvarez Borland, Isabel. Cuban-American Literature of Exile: From Person to Persona. Charlottesville: UP of Virginia, 1998.
Augenbraum, Harold, and Margarite Fernndez-Olmos, eds. U.S. Latino Literature: A Critical Guide for Students and Teachers. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000.
Christian, Karen. Show and Tell: Identity as Performance in U.S. Latina/o Fiction. Albuquerque:
U of New Mexico P, 1997.
Flores, ngel. Magical Realism in Spanish American Fiction. Hispana 38.2 (May 1955):
Gracia, Jorge J. E. Hispanic/Latino Identity: A Philosophical Perspective. Oxford: Blackwell,
Horno Delgado, Asuncin. Breaking Boundaries: Latina Writing and Critical Readings.
Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1989.
Kafka, Phillipa. Saddling la Gringa: Gatekeeping in Literature by Contemporary Latina Writers. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000.
Kanellos, Nicols, ed. The Hispanic Literary Companion. Detroit: Visible Ink P, 1997.
McCracken, Ellen. New Latina Narrative: The Feminine Space of Postmodern Ethnicity. Tucson: U of Arizona P, 1999.
Ortiz Cofer, Judith. The Myth of the Latin Woman: I Just Met a Girl Named Mara.
Borcuas. Ed. Roberto Santiago. New York: Ballantine Books, 1995. 1028.
Prez Firmat, Gustavo. Life on the Hyphen: The Cuban-American Way. Austin: U of Texas P,

L e G u i n , U r s u la K . ( 1 9 2 9 )
Prominent writer of science fiction, best known for the novels The Left Hand of
Darkness (1969) and The Dispossessed (1974). The first represents Le Guins earliest sustained exploration of gender as a cultural construct. In it, an envoy, Genly
Ai, visits the planet Gethen seeking its inclusion in a loose federation of worlds,
the Ekumen. Ai, a human male, finds that the human inhabitants of Gethen have
evolved into physical androgyny, briefly becoming either male or female once
monthly to engage in sexual activity. Ai, attempting to navigate a complex mesh of
local politics while completing his mission, eventually finds himself with an exiled
royal advisor, forced to journey across an arctic wasteland. Though The Left Hand of
Darkness won both Hugo and Nebula awards, indicating both popular and critical
success, critics took issue with the Gethenians general masculinity and an apparent disconnect between the novels plot and theme. In her many essays (Dancing
at the Edge of the World [1989]), Le Guin has shown herself to be dialectically open
to the arguments of feminism, and the progression of her novels reflects constant
engagement with gender questions.
The Dispossessed is Le Guins most overtly political work. Fredric Jameson calls
it the most important utopia since Skinners Walden Two (221). A portion of the
planet Urrass population removes itself to the moon Annares, where a Socialist community is set up, though still tied economically to the warring capitalist and Stalinist
nations of Urras. After 200 years, a brilliant Annaresti scientist seeks to meet with scientists on Urras. The novel traces his journey up to the point of the departure and, in
alternating chapters, his travels in Urras. The contrast of the two planets, through the

Lessing, Doris

eyes of the utopian character, results in a novel portrayal of the ugliness and brutality
of consumer capitalism and Soviet-style Communism on Urras. Le Guin avoids idealism with Annares. In her vision of Socialism, a state structure emerging from within
is always a possibility and a threat. While left-oriented critics tend to praise the novel,
some point out that the barrenness of Annares deliberately undercuts the effectiveness of the Socialist utopia, creating a forced ambiguous utopia, which has further
led to criticism of Le Guins failure to commit herself politically. However, as Darko
Suvin and others have shown, Le Guins politics are hardly ambiguous. Although she
cites influences ranging from Dostoevsky to Kropotkin to Lao Tzu to Marx, her work
is consistently critical of the destructive effects of capitalism on human community,
that of alienated labor and social relations. Indeed, much of her later work explores
the idea of humans working for one another rather than against one another (see
especially Always Coming Home [1985]). Le Guins fantasy, the Earthsea novels in particular, and her largely ignored historical stories (Malafrena [1979]) reflect the same
political concerns as her science-fiction novels and short stories.
David Leaton
Further Reading
Jameson, Fredric. World-Reduction in Le Guin: The Emergence of Utopian Narrative.
Science Fiction Studies 2 (1975): 22130.
Le Guin, Ursula K. Dancing at the Edge of the World. New York: Grove, 1989.
Olander, Joseph, and Martin Harry Greenberg, eds. Ursula K. Le Guin. New York: Taplinger,
White, Donna R. Dancing with Dragons: Ursula K. Le Guin and the Critics. Columbia, SC:
Camden House, 1999.

Lessing, Doris (19192013)

Over an extremely prolific 50-plus-year writing career, Doris Lessing has gone
from being an active Communist to a follower of Sufi mysticism while always
remaining a maverick. Born of British parents in Persia (now Iran) and raised on
an isolated farm in southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), she became a Communist in 1940s Rhodesia because it seemed to be the only group that cared about
the Native question. While Lessing became disillusioned with Communism in
1950s London after learning of Stalins atrocities, she continued to struggle with
her Marxist identification into the early 1960s. Her involvement with Communism
and Socialism is fully described in her two volumes of autobiography, Under My
Skin (1994) and Walking in the Shade (1997).
Declaring in 1957 that her novels study the individual conscience in relation to
the collective, Lessing reveals this artistic creed most fully in her five-volume bildungsroman series Children of Violence (19521969) (The Small Personal Voice,
14). The first four volumes trace the growth from adolescence to maturity of her
autobiographical protagonist, Martha Quest, against the background of an astutely
analyzed white-settler community in Zambesia, a fictionalized Rhodesia. The last



LeSueur, Meridel

volumeThe Four-Gated City (1969), set in Londonstretches Lessings earlier

political vision to embrace psychological and Sufi interests, including the need to
investigate altered states of consciousness.
Between the third and fourth volumes of Children of Violence, Lessing took a
break from the series to write what is probably her best known novel, The Golden
Notebook (1962). Her central character, Anna Wulf, a writer suffering from writers
block, not only details the emotions and thoughts accompanying her break with
Communism but also portrays the difficult relations between men and women
and the exploration of madness as a means of breaking through psychic sterility
and fragmentation. Her depiction of thoughtful, independent women daring to
talk together about their often unsatisfactory relations with men, as well as about
politics, children, and work, made Lessing one of the heroines of early feminism.
Following a five-volume science-fiction series, Canopus in Argos: Archives
(19791983), Lessing returned to fictional realism, writing, among other novels,
The Good Terrorist (1985), a darkly satirical look at not only emotionally unstable amateur terrorists but also an England where the dispossessed are the norm
(Greene 207). Lessings novel The Sweetest Dream (2002), written in lieu of volume
three of her autobiography, casts a satirical look back at left-wing politics in the
1960s. She continued to publish novels through Alfred and Emily in 2008. In 2007,
she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.
Phyllis Perrakis
Further Reading
Greene, Gayle Jacoba. Doris Lessing: The Poetics of Change. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P,
Kaplan, Carey, and Ellen Cronan Rose, eds. Doris Lessing: The Alchemy of Survival. Columbus: Ohio UP, 1988.
Lessing, Doris. The Small Personal Voice. A Small Personal Voice: Essays, Reviews, Interviews. Ed. Paul Schleuter. New York: Vintage, 1975. 321.
Rubenstein, Roberta. The Novelistic Vision of Doris Lessing: Breaking the Forms of Consciousness. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1979.
Sprague, Claire, and Virginia Tiger. Critical Essays on Doris Lessing. Boston: Hall, 1986.

LeSueur, Meridel (19001996)

Born with the century in the middle of the American continent to Midwestern
Socialists, Meridel LeSueur embodied a native rebellious dynamism that sent her
hitchhiking to Hollywood with her cousin (who became the star Joan Crawford) in
the 1920s, picketing with women on the breadlines during the 1930s, and writing
childrens books while blacklisted throughout the 1950s, only to be resurrected as
a feminist legend in the 1970s. Between the 1930s and 1950s, LeSueur wrote novels, poems, stories, reportage, and childrens fiction; she taught writing to workers,
recorded the stories of homeless women, edited radical magazines, organized the
unemployed, and raised two daughters while living in the Twin Cities with Robert

LeSueur, Meridel

Brown, a painter. Her early stories and poems, and her 1939 novel, The Girl (which
was rejected by publishers until 1978), limned womens desire for sex, for female
companionship, for children as the basis for a new kind of political association
and activism. LeSueurs gift for listening to the underlying sounds of daily life transcribed the speech of working-class women into a poetic account of suffering and
struggle caused by men and capitalism. The Girl, for instance, relies on the heist plot
popularized by early 1930s Hollywood gangster films but instead of following the
rise and fall of the immigrant hustler focuses on his farm-bred molla St. Paul bar
girland the other waitresses and streetwalkers left destitute by the Depression.
LeSueur was acutely aware of the complexities of writing across class and gender
divides. Her 1935 essay for New Masses, The Fetish of Being Outside, presents a
cogent argument for what Antonio Gramsci called the organic intellectual. In this
early piece of materialist-feminist critique, LeSueur theorizes about the gendered
dynamics of class positions and worries over the plight of the unaligned intellectual. She further developed these ideas in her pamphlet written while teaching
creative writing for the Works Progress Administration, Worker Writers, which
summarizes her pedagogical belief in a peoples culture voiced through the authentic rendering of workers own language. Her introspection, in which her theoretical
discussion rests on her own self-revelation, became a model for later academic
This grounding in experience and self-disclosure marked the hallucinatory
prose of her stories and reportage from the 1930s. Annunciation expresses the
inner consciousness of a young pregnant woman whose dreamy sense of her bodys
physicality supplants her day-to-day existence; I Was Marching traces the development of a middle-class woman, moved by the scenes of massive demonstrations
during the Minneapolis truckers strike of 1934, from observer (looking at the
strike) to participant (marching on the picket line). At once lyrical and polemical, LeSueurs prose unsettles the genre distinctions separating reportage and
fiction. Even her childrens bookssuch as the biography of Nancy Hanks, Lincolns mother, and that of Davy Crockett, Chanticleer of Wilderness Road, written for
Knopf while she was blacklisted during the dark years, as she called themare
full of wonderful historical detail wrapped in a sensuous prose style. The recovery
of LeSueurs works by Feminist Press and West End Press in the 1970s revived her
influence on another generation of women and working-class writers. She lived
to see her workonce scorned, trivialized, and censoredbecome the subject of
scholarship as well as inspiring song, theater, and poetry.
Paula Rabinowitz

Further Reading
Browder, Laura. Rousing the Nation: Radical Culture in Depression America. Amherst: U of
Massachusetts P, 1998.
Coiner, Constance. Better Red: The Writing and Resistance of Tillie Olsen and Meridel Le Sueur.
New York: Oxford UP, 1995.



London, Jack

Hapke, Laura. Daughters of the Great Depression: Women, Work, and Fiction in the American
1930s. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1995.
Rabinowitz, Paula. Labor and Desire: Womens Revolutionary Fiction in Depression America.
Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 1991.
Roberts, Nora Ruth. Three Radical Women Writers: Class and Gender in Meridel Le Sueur, Tillie
Olsen, and Josephine Herbst. New York: Garland, 1996.
Schleuning, Neala. America, Song We Sang without Knowing: The Life and Ideas of Meridel
LeSueur. Mankato, MN: Little Red Hen P, 1983.

L o n d o n , Ja c k ( 1 8 7 6 1 9 1 6 )
The foremost adventure novelist in early 20th-century America and over the next
half century the most widely read American author around the globe, London was
a Socialist enigma. The working-class revolutionist who could not accept his own
celebrity, he was also the social Darwinist and racial fatalist who chose personal
escape to places far from an overcivilized culture. Born in Oakland, California,
London was significantly the son of a troubled relationship (and nonmarriage)
between a local spiritualist and an astrologer. He grew up along the docks; called
to the water, he was arrested as a teenager for raiding the oyster beds owned by the
railroad trust. Harried by police, he headed for the Alaska Territory and the gold
rush. Unsuccessful in this venture and more interested in the human element of
the north country, he returned to Oakland and wrote the adventure fiction Call of
the Wild (1901), which captured the attention of readers across the world. Here
and in several other works (including an extended novel from the perspective of an
Alaskan husky), London drew a portrait of the freedom of the wildunbounded,
virile, death-dealing, but also symbolic of the basics of existence. Committed to the
Socialist movement from the early years of the century, and especially beloved by
the members and followers of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), London
was also a melancholy dreamer, alcohol abuser, and compulsive writer, who spent
his energies on stories and novels for publication while falling frequently into
depression and bouts of heavy drinking. A founder of the Intercollegiate Socialist
Society, which urged educated young people to move leftward, London portrayed
in Martin Eden (1909) a desperately sad writer of proletarian origins who becomes
successful but also frustrated by his own success, certain that he is being personally transformed into something commercial and artificial. The novels protagonist
throws himself overboard to drowna more than symbolic suicide, as the author
sank further into drink. The Iron Heel (1911), an important and influential work
of dystopian literature, foresaw something very much like Fascism, including
the willingness, almost eagerness, of most Americans to accept the crushing of
idealists. The Dream of Debs, published after his early death, offered a vision of
redemption led by the most Christlike of American radicals until the emergence
of Martin Luther King Jr. London met the outbreak of World War I with personal
confusion and a craving to escape its complications. His literary representation
of nature as a war of all versus all had reinforced a youthful prejudice against
Asians at large, and he first construed the war as a crusade of Aryan civilization.
On the other hand, enraged by capitalisms depredations, he supported the IWW

Lorde, Audre

with speech and checkbook, certain that one day workers would literally take the
industries from their enemies. By the 1920s and 1930s, translations of London
into Russian made him, in remarkable ways, one of the favorite modern Russian authors, attuned to the mixture of idealism and fatalism, melancholy and
romance, perhaps more suited to Soviet readers than their American counterparts.
As the next century turned, London continued to find new generations of readers,
perhaps previewing interest among those who viewed society as once again in
desperate straits.
Paul Buhle
Further Reading
Labor, Earle. Jack London. New York: Twayne, 1974.
London, Jack. Jack London, American Rebel: A Collection of His Social Writings. New York:
Citadel, 1947.
London, Joan. Jack London and His Daughters. San Bernardino, CA: Borego P, 1995.
Sinclair, Andrew. Jack: A Biography of Jack London. New York: Harper and Row, 1977.

Lorde, Audre (19341992)

The daughter of Caribbean immigrants to the United States, Audre Lorde achieved
international stature as a poet and social activist. Growing up in New York City
in the 1940s and 1950s, Lorde negotiated the particularly vehement racism and
xenophobia faced by migrating southern blacks and Caribbean immigrants in the
northern United States at that time. She completed her BA at Hunter College in
1959 and her MLS at the Columbia University School of Library Science in 1961.
She began her teaching career as poet-in-residence at Tougaloo College in 1968,
eventually holding the Thomas Hunter Chair at Hunter College. Her first books
of poetryThe First Cities (1968), Cables to Rage (1970), From a Land Where Other
People Live (1973), and New York Head Shop and Museum (1974)were published
by small presses, and her poetry was identified with both the Black Arts movement and the feminist movement, whose adherents provided the main audience
for writers who challenged the apolitical aesthetics of mainstream publishing. Initially, however, even these allies on matters of race and gender responded to the
representation of lesbian sexuality in her poetry with homophobia. When From a
Land where Other People Live was nominated for the National Book Award, Lordes
work began to find a broader audience, and ultimately she became a model for
writers of the gay movement. Politicizing the intimate, the familial, and the erotic,
Lordes poetry renders exceptionally nuanced connections among gender, sexuality, class, race, health, ability, and nation, complicating its seamless appropriation
by any group defined by a singular identity. Her use of the enjambed free-verse
line to create, question, and revise meaning provides formal complexity consonant with the multiplicity she asked her audiences to acknowledge within and
among themselves and across the world. Lordes direct address and challenge to
her audiences made her readings unforgettable demonstrations of the power of



Lu Xun

poetry. Later books, especially The Black Unicorn (1978) and Our Dead behind Us
(1986), establish her link to the African diaspora. Exclusively published by small
presses, Lordes prose also broke thematic and formal ground. The Cancer Journals
(1980) chronicles her battle with breast cancer and mastectomy; her biomythography Zami (1982) provides a fictionalized account of the first 20 years of her life;
and Sister Outsider (1984) collects key essays. Lorde was the recipient of numerous
awards and honors, including two National Endowment for the Arts grants and
the Walt Whitman citation of merit. In 1991, she was named poet laureate of New
York State. In 1992, having made her home on the island of St. Croix and taken
the African name Gamba Adisa, Lorde died of liver cancer.
Zofia Burr

Further Reading
De Veaux, Alexis. Warrior Poet: A Biography of Audre Lorde. New York: W. W. Norton, 2004.
Hall, Joan Wylie, ed. Conversations with Audre Lorde. Jackson: UP of Mississippi, 2004.
A Litany for Survival: The Life and Work of Audre Lorde. Dir. Ada Gay Griffin and Michelle
Parkerson. Third World Newsreel, 1996.

Lu Xun (18811936)
Lu Xun was the pen name of Zhou Shuren, born in Shaoxing, in the
southeastern-seaboard province of Zhejiang, China. He achieved prominence by
the early 1920s as the author of modern short stories, while his stature as an essayist and social critic continued to grow into the 1930s when he became the chief
intellectual spokesman for the oppositionfirst to the warlords and then, after
1927, to the one-party rule of the nationalists, or Kuomintang. By the early 1930s,
he became associated with the Communist Partythen an illegal underground
oppositional organizationalthough he never joined it officially.
The Zhou clan were scholar-gentry but fell on hard times after a scandal involving Lu Xuns grandfather and the premature death of Lu Xuns father. Lu Xun went
on government scholarship to Japan in 1902 to study Western medicine, hoping to
do something to alleviate the suffering of victims like his father, thereby promoting
the cause of reform at home. But his interests turned more and more toward literature, and he eventually gave up the study of medicine. Returning to China in 1909,
Lu Xun taught in academic institutions until 1927 (and also worked in the newly
founded Ministry of Education of the Republic). His disappointment at the failure
of the 1911 revolution to make genuine changes in Chinese society is reflected in
his satiric novella The True Story of Ah Q (1921), which uses black humor to point
out the foibles in the character of Ah Q, a hapless coolie who is bullied by others
and in turn bullies the weak. Though a bully, Ah Q is not without a sympathetic
side, and this leads us to the perception of an injustice when he is arrested, tried,
and wrongfully shot as a looter by the new order. A film version of Ah Q was
released in 1981, with a fairly faithful screenplay adaptation by Chen Baichen.

Lumpkin, Grace

Lu Xuns Diary of a Madman (1918) is often regarded as the first modern

Chinese short story. This has to do not only with its unconventional use of the
vernacular language but, more importantly, with its innovative style (it is presented
by the narrator in the form of a real diary by an alleged madman) and sensational
content (it indicts the old order as cannibalistic). The New-Year Sacrifice (1924),
the tragic story of a twice-widowed woman taken into service by a gentry family,
was adapted into a film with the same title in 1956 by the Communist playwright
Xia Yan.
Lu Xun also composed a collection of acclaimed prose poetry reminiscent of
Baudelaire, published in 1927 under the title Wild Grass. In his final years, he
devoted himself almost exclusively to polemical articles for journals and short
essays critical of the right-wing Kuomintang government. He continued to write
classical-style poetry until 1935, the year before his death.
Jon Eugene von Kowallis
Further Reading
Hsia, T. A. The Gate of Darkness: Studies on the Leftist Literary Movement in China. Seattle: U
of Washington P, 1968.
Kowallis, Jon Eugene von. The Lyrical Lu Xun: A Study of His Classical Style Verse. Honolulu:
U of Hawaii P, 1996.
Lee, Leo Ou-fan. Voices from the Iron House: A Study of Lu Xun. Bloomington: Indiana UP,
Lee, Leo Ou-fan, ed. Lu Xun and His Legacy. Berkeley: U of California P, 1985.
Lyell, William A. Lu Hsns Vision of Reality. Berkeley: U of California P, 1976.
Prusek, Jaroslav. The Lyrical and the Epic. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1985.

Lumpkin, Grace (18911980)

An author of proletarian fiction focusing on industrialization and race relations in
the South, Grace Lumpkin was born to a family of the fallen southern aristocracy
in Milledgeville, Georgia, and the daughter of a Confederate veteran. Her family moved to South Carolina around 1900 to try to recoup its financial standing
(her sister Katherine would eventually become a prominent sociologist, and her
brother, a U.S. senator). In 1910, the family established a farm on which Grace first
came into contact with white and African American sharecroppers. She attended
Brenau College in Gainesville, Georgia, to become a teacher; as a teacher, she
started a night school for farmers, and spent summers living with mill workers
and sharecroppers in the North Carolina mountains. She worked for the YWCA in
France for a year; in 1924, she went to New York, where she worked for the World
Todaya Quaker publicationand studied journalism at Columbia University.
She became involved in pacifist and Socialist movements in New York, and eventually joined the Communist Party.
Lumpkin was prominent in radical literary circles of the 1930s. She published
the novel To Make My Bread, based on the Gastonia Mill strike, in 1932 and A



Lumpkin, Grace

Sign for Cain, based on the Scottsboro Boys case, in 1935, after which she became
anti-Communist. Her third novel, The Wedding (1939), was personal and nonpolitical. In later life she turned reactionary, testifying before a Senate subcommittee in
the 1950s and naming names of her radical former friends. She also became quite
religious, and returned to Columbia, South Carolina. Her final novel, Full Circle
(1962), portrays a protagonist who leaves the church, becomes a Communist, then
returns to the church. She died in 1980.
Renny Christopher
Further Reading
Cook, Sylvia Jenkins. Gastonia: The Literary Reverberations of the Strike. Southern Literary Journal 7.1 (1974): 4966.
Foley, Barbara. Radical Representations: Politics and Form in U.S. Proletarian Fiction, 1929
1941. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1993.
Hapke, Laura. Daughters of the Great Depression: Women, Work, and Fiction in the American
1930s. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1995.
Lumpkin, Katharine Du Pre. The Making of a Southerner. 1946. Athens: U of Georgia P,
Sowinska, Suzanne. Writing across the Color Line: White Women Writers and the Negro
Question in the Gastonia Novels. Radical Revisions: Rereading 1930s Culture. Ed. Bill
Mullen and Sherry Lee Linkon. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1996. 12043.

Ma g i c al R e al i s m
The term magical realism was first applied to Latin American writers such as Jorge
Luis Borges and Alejo Carpentier, although more specifically linked to 1960s
boom authors, including Julio Cortzar, Carlos Fuentes, Mario Vargas Llosa,
and Gabriel Garca Mrquez, whose One Hundred Years of Solitude (Cien aos de
soledad, 1967) is for many the signature text of the movement. Magical realism
has also been employed by post-boom writers such as Isabel Allende. The term
was originally used by art critic Franz Roh to denominate a painting style of the
early 20th century, but was applied to literature by ngel Flores in 1955. His basic
argument was that the mixture of the magical and realism have existed throughout Latin American writing, with the magical, writ large from the earliest (189).
Magical realism as practiced in the 1940s and 1950s is predominantly an art of
surprises. From the very first line the reader is thrown into a timeless flux and/or
the unconceivable, freighted with dramatic suspense (190).
As magical realism has continued in use, it has entered into various formations
and even what could be termed popular literature, which Flores disparaged as
flatulence. Magical realism is more than just fantasy; its magic is not an unusual
occurrence that bursts into the ordinary world but merely one more element of the
world that characters take in stride. Irony is a basic requirementmagic is made
ordinary, while the quotidian is transformed into something unreal within the text,
which leads to a sense of wonderyet at the same time, the reader knows that this
is artifice. The idea that magical realism is an attempt to present a perspective on
the world that centers on popular, traditional, rural culture is just thatan idea.
Worse, we can argue that the idea is actually built by outside, dominating forces
attempting to transform a real lifestyle into a mythical cultural construct for their
own ends. This has been one of the main criticisms leveled at the boom writers
from the 1960s, who critical studies have most identified with magical realism.
Isabel Allendes The House of the Spirits (La casa de los espritus, 1982) is one text of
the Latin American post boom that demonstrates the lessening influence of magical
realism. In the early part of the novel, the protagonist is Clara, a girl who speaks to
spirits, performs telekinesis, and stops speaking for 12 years. But as the novel progresses from the late 1800s to the 1970s, the magic disappears, and the brutal reality
of social inequality and Pinochets military coup in Chile take over. Magical realism
has been taken up, however, by writers in other places, especially in Latina/o literature, where writers like Ana Castillo, Cristina Garcia, and Judith Ortiz Cofer present
an amazing view of reality: where a child can return from the dead, fly, and smell


Mailer, Norman

the scent of hell on people, but not be thought very unusual. The style is not limited
to the Americas, however; writers such as Gnter Grass, Salman Rushdie, Amitav
Ghosh, Ben Okri, and B. Kojo Laing have also incorporated it.
Jason G. Summers
Further Reading
Angulo, Mara-Elena. Magic Realism: Social Context and Discourse. New York: Garland, 1995.
Faris, Wendy B. Ordinary Enchantments: Magical Realism and the Remystification of Narrative.
Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt UP, 2004.
Flores, ngel. Magical Realism in Spanish American Fiction. Hispana 38.2 (May 1955):
Monet-Viera, Molly. Post-Boom Magical Realism: Appropriations and Transformation of a
Genre. Revista de estudios hispnicos 38.1 (January 2004): 95117.
Parkinson Zamora, Lois, and Wendy B. Faris, eds. Magical Realism: Theory, History, Community. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1995.
Swanson, Philip. The New Novel in Latin America: Politics and Popular Culture after the Boom.
Manchester: Manchester UP, 1995.

Ma i l e r , N o r m a n ( 1 9 2 3 2 0 0 7 )
Born in New Jersey, Mailer grew up in Brooklyn and attended Harvard University before serving in the U.S. Army in the Pacific campaign of World War II.
This experience provided the material for his first novel, The Naked and the Dead
(1948), still widely regarded as one of the finest novels to have come out of the
war. It is a powerful and compelling war novel that narrates in vivid naturalistic
detail the successful assault of the fictional Japanese-held island of Anopopei by
a large U.S. force. However, the book emphasizes the horror of war rather than
its glory, depicting the realities of jungle combat in ways that not only undermine
any notion that World War II was glorious and romantic but also strikingly anticipate the later U.S. experience in the Vietnam War. The victory is achieved more
by chance than by heroism or brilliant strategy and tactics, in addition, the book
refuses to characterize the combat in terms of good versus evil. The Japanese are
consistently depicted as human beings who suffer and die just like the Americans,
which adds a chilling note to the fact that after winning the victory, the American
forces coldly massacre the remaining Japanese because it is too much trouble to
take prisoners. Meanwhile, the book suggests that figures such as the neo-Fascist
Cummings represent a dangerous element that threatens to ride the military victory in World War II to power in postwar America.
Barbary Shore (1951), Mailers second novel, has the most openly leftist content
of any of his numerous books. The book is very much a philosophical novel in
which various characters debate the relative merits of different political philosophies (especially Marxist ones), while using these philosophies to provide perspectives on historical events in the 20th century. Though critical of the Stalinist
Soviet Union as a bureaucratic nightmare dominated by state capitalism, the book

M a l r a u x , A n d r

eschews the usual Cold War oppositions by suggesting that the United States is
also drifting toward bureaucratic tyranny and that ultimately the two states will
probably become indistinguishable.
Mailers long and varied career included dozens of books of both fiction and nonfiction, including severalsuch as the Pulitzer Prizewinning works The Armies of
the Night (1968) and The Executioners Song (1979), and the less successful Oswalds
Tale (1996)that blur the boundary between fact and fiction in rich and suggestive ways. His more purely fictional novels range from realistic works, such as The
Naked and the Dead and The Deer Park (1955); to more experimental, sometimes
fantastic fictions, such as An American Dream (1965) and Why Are We in Vietnam?
(1967); to massive late works, such as Ancient Evenings (1983) and Harlots Ghost
(1991). Along the way, Mailer complemented this vast and varied fictional opus
with essays, commentary, and autobiography, becoming a highly visible (and often
controversial) public intellectual.
M. Keith Booker
Further Reading
Dearborn, Mary V. Mailer: A Biography. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999.
Ehrlich, Robert. Norman Mailer: The Radical as Hipster. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow P, 1978.
Gutman, Stanley T. Mankind in Barbary: The Individual and Society in the Novels of Norman
Mailer. Hanover, NH: UP of New England, 1975.
Leigh, Nigel. Radical Fictions and the Novels of Norman Mailer. New York: St. Martins, 1990.
Merrill, Robert. Norman Mailer Revisited. New York: Twayne, 1992.

Mal r a u x , A n d r ( 1 9 0 1 1 9 7 6 )
Georges Andr Malraux was born November 3, 1901, in Paris. He attended the
cole Turgot until July 1918 at which time he terminated his formal education.
In 1923, he set off for Indochina with wife Clara and friend Louis Chevasson,
where they took part in an expedition to the Cambodian temple of Bantea-Srey,
from which they removed valuable statues and bas-reliefs. Subsequently, Malraux
and his companions were tried and later acquitted for the theft of the precious art
objects. In 1925, he returned to Indochina, where he launched two short-lived
newspapers that criticized French colonialist practices.
Having returned to Paris after his Asian sojourn, Malraux published the epistolary work Temptation of the West (La Tentation de lOccident). In 1928, The Conquerors (Les Conqurants), his first authentic novel, was published. In 1930, Grasset
published his The Royal Way (La Voie royale). After visiting China in 1931, he began
working on the novel that would win him the prestigious Goncourt literary prize
in 1933, Mans Fate (La Condition humaine). During the 1930s, Malraux became a
champion of left-wing political causes without formally joining the Communist
Party. His anti-Fascist political involvement culminated in the publication of Days
of Wrath (Le Temps du mpris) in 1935. A year later, Malraux was busy organizing
an air squadron, which he later commanded in support of the embattled Spanish



M a n d e l s h ta m , O s i p

Republic. His Spanish Civil War novel, Mans Hope (LEspoir), appeared in December 1937, when there was still a glimmer of hope that a democratic Spain might
triumph over the mechanized armies of General Franco. He also wrote, directed,
and produced his only film, Sierra de Teruel. When Nazi Germany invaded France
in 1940, he was taken prisoner but later escaped. In 1941, he began working on
The Walnut Trees of Altenburg (Les Noyers de lAltenburg) and on a biography of
T.E. Lawrence. By 1943, Malraux had made contact with French Resistance groups,
and in 1944, he assumed command of the Alsace-Lorraine brigade, one year before
he met Charles de Gaulle, an encounter that would change his life.
After the war, Malraux channeled his creative energy into a series of brilliant studies on the metamorphosis of art over time and space. When not working on what
he termed his imaginary museum of art masterpieces, he served intermittently in
de Gaulles cabinets. His highest political post was that of minister of cultural affairs,
which he held from 1959 until de Gaulles resignation in 1969. During the remaining
seven years of his life, Malraux underwent a kind of artistic resurrection, personified
by the biblical character Lazarusthe title he in fact later gave to an autobiographical account of his near fatal illness in 1972. Malrauxs death in 1976 was marked by
an outpouring of obituaries, editorials, and eulogies in literary journals.
John B. Romeiser
Further Reading
Cate, Curtis. Andr Malraux: A Biography. London: Hutchinson, 1995.
Frohock, Wilbur M. Andr Malraux and the Tragic Imagination. Stanford UP: Stanford, 1967.
Lacouture, Jean. Malraux, une vie dans le sicle. Paris: Seuil, 1976.
Larrat, Jean-Claude. Andr Malraux. Paris: Librairie Gnrale Franaise, 2001.
Madsen, Axel. Andr Malraux: A Biography. New York: William Morrow, 1976.

Ma n d e l s h ta m , O s i p ( 1 8 9 1 1 9 3 8 )
Born in Warsaw, Mandelshtam became one of the most important and influential
Russian poets of the 20th century. After a brief fling with symbolism, Mandelshtam
joined Nikolai Gumilevs antisymbolist, St. Petersburg-based Poets Guild and initiated, together with Gumilev, Anna Akhmatova, and Sergei Gorodetskii, the acmeist
movement in Russian literature (19121913), which wasunlike symbolism
emphatically concerned with this life and this world. His poetry (from Stone [Kamen,
1913] through Tristia [1922] to the late Voronezh Notebooks [19351937]) and prose
(from the autobiographical The Noise of Time [Shum Vremeni, 1925] to the essayistic
masterpiece Conversation about Dante [Razgovor o Dante, 1933]) set unprecedented
poetic standards, whose force and reach would be felt by such diverse successors
across the globe as Paul Celan, Robert Lowell, and Joseph Brodsky. Two aspects of
Mandelshtams poetics in particular stand out among the voices of literary modernism
(in and out of Russia): his twofold conception of poetry as (1) a breathing, living body
analogous to what he perceived to be the living spirituality of Gothic architecture and
(2) inherently dialogic, as addressed especially to an interlocutor in the future, like a

M a n n , T h o m a s

message in a bottle. It was not Mandelshtams poetic genius alone, however, that made
for his status as a literary legend. Mandelshtams biographycertainly, in part, a function of his avowed experience of a fundamental lack of fit between himself and his
world (I have never been anybodys contemporary, Mandelshtam wrote in 1924)
equally facilitated his accession to the pantheon of poets from Ovid to Pushkin who
fell afoul of the powers-that-be and became grist for the mills of totalitarianism. At
home in neither what he called the Judaic chaos of his cultural-religious background
(as a result of which he converted to Protestantism in 1911) nor the new Soviet order,
the erstwhile supporter of the Bolshevik Revolution saw his attempts at making a
decent living as a writer and translator thwarted most infamously in the so-called
Eulenspiegel affair (19291930), during which he was accused of plagiarism. Rather
than playing along with the new regime, Mandelshtam chose to resist its grip. Both the
polemical Fourth Prose (Chetvertaia Prosa, 19291930) and the famous anti-Stalinist
verses of 1933 saliently attest to the antitotalitarian thrust of Mandelshtams project.
In 1934, the poet was arrested and sentenced to three years in internal exile, spent
in Cherdyn and Voronezh, where the majority of his late poetry was created (and
recorded by his wife, Nadezhda). After returning to Moscow in 1938, the prematurely
aged Mandelshtam was again arrested and sentencedon the trumped-up charge of
counterrevolutionary activityto five years of forced labor in the Siberian far east.
Before reaching his final destination, Mandelshtam died, aged 47, of paralysis of the
heart (the official diagnosis) in the transit camp Vtoraja Rechka, near Vladivostok.
Michael Eskin

Further Reading
Brown, Clarence. Mandelstam. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1973.
Cavanagh, Clare. Osip Mandelstam and the Creation of Modernist Tradition. Princeton, NJ:
Princeton UP, 1995.
Harris, Jane Gary. Osip Mandelstam. Boston: Twayne, 1988.
Mandelshtam, Osip. Sobranie sochinenii [Collected works]. Ed. Pavel Nerler et al. 4 vols.
Moscow: Art-Biznes-Tsentr, 19931997.

Ma n n , T h o m a s ( 1 8 7 5 1 9 5 5 )
Born of patrician parents in the North German commercial port city of Lbeck,
Mann achieved financial independence and critical acclaim with his first novel,
Buddenbrooks (1901). The theme of the incompatibility of the artistic temperament
with a successful integration into bourgeois society and a style characterized by
skillful use of the literary leitmotif would become hallmarks of Manns prodigious
output. With a sophisticated, ironic virtuosity, Mann developed a series of successful short stories (Tristan, Tonio Krger), culminating in 1912 with the long
novella Death in Venice. The explorations of sensitive mensome young, some
notcontending with passions that pushed them to the margins of the very society whose center they craved might have defined and at the same time exhausted
Manns creativity, had Germany not gone twice to war.



M a r i t e g u i , J o s C a r l o s

Although exempted from military service for physical reasons, Mann embraced
the patriotic fervor of World War I. His essay Reflections of an Unpolitical Man
(1918) was anything but apolitical, and his second novel, The Magic Mountain (Der
Zauberberg, 1924), concludes with its young protagonist bravely entering the fields of
death on the western front. When Mann was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1929, it was
explicitly for the early Buddenbrooks, but already in The Magic Mountain and certainly
by Mario and the Magician (1930) there is a softening of the patriotic reflex in favor
of a troubled, questioning uncertainty. By the assumption of power in 1933 by the
National Socialists under Adolf Hitler, Mann had become an unabashed supporter of
the Weimar Republic and opponent of Fascism. He took his family into exile, eventually to settle in the United States, and was stripped of his German citizenship.
While in the United States, Mann held visiting lectureships and ultimately a
chair at Princeton. In 1941, he moved to Pacific Palisades, where he became the
acknowledged representative of the good German. He concluded a vast tetralogy,
Joseph and His Brothers (Joseph und seine Brder, 19331943); wrote extensively on
the legacy of German idealism in the works of Goethe; recorded a series of antiHitler broadcasts for the BBC; and began his last great work, Dr. Faustus. This massive novel, completed in 1947, attempts to explain the collapse of hallowed idealism into the perversions of National Socialism by invoking the legend of a German
scholar with overreaching ambitions who sells his soul to the devil in return for
extraordinary powers. Mann takes back Goethes classic and redemptive version
of the same legend in a vision of Germany as Faust, damned perhaps forever.
An American citizen since 1944, Mann returned to postwar Germany only
briefly, but also elected not to remain in a United States plagued by McCarthyism.
He died in Switzerland in 1955.
Mark E. Cory

Further Reading
Heilbut, Anthony. Thomas Mann: Eros and Literature. London: Macmillan, 1996.
Kurzke, Hermann. Thomas Mann: Life as a Work of Art. A Biography. Trans. Leslie Willson.
Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 2002.
Minden, Michael, ed. Thomas Mann. New York: Longman, 1995.
Reed, T. J. Thomas Mann: The Uses of Tradition. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1974, 1996.
Robertson, Ritchie, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Thomas Mann. Cambridge: Cambridge
UP, 2002.

Ma r i t e g u i , J o s Ca r l o s ( 1 8 9 4 1 9 3 0 )
A journalist and Socialist militant in his native Peru, Maritegui was a pioneering
figure in the development of an independent Latin American tradition of Marxist
political theory and social analysis. Of poor health from birth, his untimely death
at the height of his activity has perhaps enhanced the aura surrounding his contributions. Among other milestones, Maritegui established the Peruvian Socialist

M a r i t e g u i , J o s C a r l o s

Party (PSP) in 1928 and organized the Peruvian Trade Union Congress (CGTP) in
1929. He also founded and sustained as editor from 1926 until his death the Peruvian journal Amauta, arguably the most vibrant and vital of several quality Latin
American avant-garde reviews that circulated in the 1920s and 1930s and kept the
region conversant with the latest cultural and political developments. Mariteguis
prolific writings, most produced under deadline for immediate consumption,
include essays in Peruvian historical and sociopolitical analysis, literary criticism,
articles on world politics and current events, and several poems and short stories
from his early years. His seminal work, however, was the essay collection Seven
Interpretative Essays on Peruvian Reality (Siete ensayos de interpretacin de la realidad
peruana, 1928), one of only two book-length volumes printed during his lifetime.
Maritegui himself always divided his life into his youthful and mature phases,
separated by his residence in Europe from 1919 until 1923. He termed the early
period his Stone Age, though scholars recognize many continuities between the two
phases. A completely self-made intellectual of humble origins, Maritegui took his
first job in 1909 as a typesetter for a Lima daily, and soon rose to become a reporter
for a variety of publications. When his articles took on an increasingly prolabor slant,
the government of Augusto Legua arranged to send Maritegui to Europe as a cultural attach. During the next four years, mostly in Italy, Maritegui imbued himself
in the Socialist theories and politics of postwar Europe, and returned to Peru in 1923
an admitted (but by no means orthodox) Marxist. His remaining years in Peru were
ones of fervent political activity and intellectual productivity, and his home in Lima
became a gathering place for workers, artists, and intellectuals of many stripes.
Maritegui made no apologies for the European origins of his Marxist views;
Croce, Sorel, and Gramsci are considered key influences. But the Siete ensayos argued,
in Leninist fashion, that revolutionary strategies should fit local circumstances and
national conditions. While his analyses prioritized the economic basehe saw the
Indian problem in Peru as a class-based rather than a racial issuehe resisted
the strict determinisms of historical materialism and favored a voluntaristic building of revolutionary spirit among workers, peasants, and Indians. Mariteguis attitude toward Perus indigenous communities was far from paternalistic; however, like
many enlightened Latin American intellectuals at the time, he held a rather utopian
view of the Incan past and he considered it a potential model for modern Socialism
in Peru. Perhaps the distinctive characteristic of Mariteguis heterodox approach
clearly anticipating the later spread of liberation theology across Latin Americawas
the amalgamation of his Catholic roots and his Marxist convictions.
Steven M. Bell

Further Reading
Becker, Marc. Maritegui and Latin American Marxist Theory. Athens: Ohio University Center for International Studies, 1993.
Chang-Rodrguez, Eugenio. Potica e ideologa en Jos Carlos Maritegui. Madrid: Jos Porra Turanzas, 1983.



M aya k o v s k y, Vl a d i m i r

Maritegui, Jos Carlos. Seven Interpretive Essays on Peruvian Reality. Trans. Marjori Urquidi.
Austin: U of Texas P, 1989.
Vanden, Harry E. National Marxism in Latin America: Jos Carlos Mariteguis Thought and
Politics. Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 1986.

Maya k o v s k y, Vla d i m i r ( 1 8 9 3 1 9 3 0 )
Although his aesthetic innovations alone would reserve him a place in Russian
literary history, Mayakovsky is perhaps second only to Maxim Gorky as a literary
figure associated with the Russian Revolution. Mayakovsky joined the outlawed
Russian Social Democratic Party at 14 and was arrested three times before his
16th birthday, resulting in a six-month prison term in 1909. Upon his release, he
gained admission to a prestigious art school in Moscow, where he met many of the
innovators of the burgeoning Russian modernist avant-garde in both visual art and
poetry. The painter-poet David Burliuk took Mayakovsky under his wing, and it
was through his influence that Mayakovsky was invited to publish several poems
as part of the futurist manifesto/almanac A Slap in the Face of Public Taste in 1912.
Not only did the futuristsespecially the cubo-futurists with whom Mayakovsky
was associatedreject traditional artistic forms, but their work also echoed (albeit
not always explicitly) the revolutionary political philosophy of Bolshevik leaders
like Lenin and Trotsky.
Mayakovsky established himself as the leader among the cubo-futurists, but
the onset of World War I shifted the nations attention away from experimental
literature. Not long after the February 1917 revolution had toppled the Romanov
dynasty, Mayakovsky seized the opportunity to publish such poems as Revolution: A Poetic Chronicle, which declared that this event was only a precursor
to the Bolshevik Revolution. So prominent was his agitation that the sailors who
overthrew Alexander Kerenskys provisional government in October 1917 were
singing one of Mayakovskys revolutionary songs as they marched on the Winter
Palace in St. Petersburg.
After the Bolsheviks assumed power, Mayakovsky remained a vocal proponent
of revolutionary ideals. He produced a copious stream of propagandistic verses and
illustrations about the progress of the Russian civil war for the Soviet-run telegraph
agency. He also began creating literary works that were meant to reinforce the spirit
of the revolutionary age. His play Mystery Bouffe (1918)a satirical retelling of the
biblical flood story from a Bolshevik perspectivewas first staged on the first anniversary of the October revolution. Similarly, his lengthy poem 150,000,000 (1918)
depicts the entire population of the Soviet Union as a mythic hero engaging in battle
against Woodrow Wilson. Mayakovsky attempted to define the role of the artist as an
indispensable ideological worker in the new Soviet state. Toward this end, he helped
found the Left Front of Art (LEF) collective in 1922. LEF tried to establish a broad set
of futurist aesthetics as the truest means of artistically expressing revolutionary ideas,
and its members committed themselves to making art serve social and political ends.
Ultimately, Mayakovskys efforts failed, mostly because of increasing hostility
toward experimental art in the Soviet Union. After Lenins death in 1924, the

McK ay, C l a u d e

insistence on genuinely proletarian art saw more avant-garde groups like LEF
condemned as bourgeois holdovers. Mayakovsky wrote a pair of plays in the late
1920sThe Bedbug (1929) and The Bathhouse (1930)that satirized the decline
of revolutionary idealism, but neither play received popular or critical acclaim.
Mayakovsky committed suicide on April 14, 1930. In 1935, Stalin posthumously
declared him the best and most talented poet of our Soviet era, even though
many of his later works were still banned.
Derek C. Maus

Further Reading
Brown, Edward J. Mayakovsky: A Poet in the Revolution. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1973.
Markov, Vladimir. Russian Futurism: A History. Berkeley: U of California P, 1968.
Terras, Victor. Vladimir Mayakovsky. Boston: Twayne, 1983.
Woroszylski, Wiktor. The Life of Mayakovsky. Trans. Boleslav Taborski. New York: Orion,

M c Kay, Cla u d e ( 1 8 8 9 1 9 4 8 )
Born near Kingston, Jamaica, poet and novelist Claude McKay grew up reading Shakespeare, Dickens, and mid-19th-century popular romances and science
books. His mentor, the English expatriate and garden enthusiast Walter Jekyll,
instilled in him a love of culture, gardening, and philosophy. McKay was also
influenced by Sydney Olivier, an English radical and governor of Jamaica from
1907 until 1913, whose brand of Fabian Socialism, transplanted to the colonies,
impressed the young poet.
McKays first published poem, entitled Hard Times (1907), is a critique of
the social and economic conditions in Jamaica. He would go on to publish two
volumes of poetry before leaving his homeland: Songs of Jamaica, about peasant folkways, and Constab Ballads, which chronicled his experiences as a Kingston police cadet. The young poetexpected to follow in the family tradition of
farmingattended Tuskegee Institute, then Kansas State College in 1912.
Neither Tuskegee nor Kansas appealed to McKay, and he moved to New York
City in 1914. If We Must Die, a poem written during the Red Summer of 1919,
appeared in the Liberators July issue, and reappeared a few months later as the
Messengers lead editorial in its September Riot issue, a call-to-arms for black
resistance. While the poem established McKay as a powerful poetic voice of the
emerging Harlem Renaissance, it created such a stir among government officials
that it was read into the Congressional Record as an example of subversive literature,
prompting McKay to consider leaving the country.
In September, with a letter of introduction from the English poet Walter Fuller,
McKay set off for England, where he published Spring in New Hampshire, the first
collection of poems published in England by a black Jamaican. Two years later, with
New York editor Max Eastmans help, it would be expanded and retitled Harlem



M i v i ll e , C h i n a

Shadows. During this time, from 1919 to 1922, McKay was also a contributor and
later an editor of the Liberator and Sylvia Pankhursts The Workers Dreadnought,
periodicals with strong ties to international feminism and pacifism.
Although he delighted in referring to his unsophisticated roots, McKay was an
erudite intellectual, fluent in Spanish and French. He became an expert on African American literature as well, and devoted a lengthy section to it in his critical
study Negroes in America, which was commissioned by Vladimir Lenin after the
poets charismatic appearance at the Third International in 1922. Unable to return
to the United States because of his connections to Russian Communists, McKay
eventually settled in the industrial port city of Marseilles, where he completed
the novel Home to Harlem (1928), a signature text of the Harlem Renaissance. His
second novel, Banjo (1929), set in Marseilles and first published in French, would
inspire Francophone writers of Africa and the Caribbean. After some difficulties
with French authorities, McKay decided to move to the outskirts of Tangiers, on
a small farm near an Arab village, which he purchased with royalties from Home
to Harlem and Banjo. There, he completed two other worksGingertown (1932),
a collection of short stories, and Banana Bottom (1933), a novel set in the Jamaican countryside and dedicated to his childhood mentor, Jekyll. McKay eventually
returned to the United States and died in Chicago in 1948, having been a U.S.
citizen for the last eight years of his life.
Josh Gosciak
Further Reading
Cooper, Wayne F. Claude McKay: Rebel Sojourner in the Harlem Renaissance. Baton Rouge:
Louisiana UP, 1987.
Cooper, Wayne F., ed. The Passion of Claude McKay. New York: Schocken Books, 1973.
Gayle, Addison, Jr., ed. Claude McKay: The Black Poet at War. Detroit: Broadside P, 1972.
Giles, James Richard. Claude McKay. Boston: Twayne, 1976.
Maxwell, William J. New Negro, Old Left. New York: Columbia UP, 1999.
Tillery, Tyrone. Claude McKay: A Black Poets Struggle for Identity. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1992.

M i v i ll e , C h i n a ( 1 9 7 2 )
China Miville is perhaps the leading figure in the phenomenon known as the
British Boom, which has included the work of a number of innovative new writers
of science fiction and fantasy, often with strong political commitments. As with
many writers of the Boom, Mivilles work tends to challenge the boundaries of
genre. While perhaps most obviously belonging to the genre of fantasy, his work
often produces the kind of thought-provoking perspectives that have typically been
associated with science fiction, while including a number of images and motifs that
are more characteristic of the horror genre. Mivilles work is particularly allusive,
self-consciously drawing upon a number of important predecessors in all of these
genres. He himself has characterized his work as weird fiction, aligning it with

M i v i ll e , C h i n a

the emergent genre known as the New Weird, indicating its attempts to draw
upon, but go beyond the weird fiction of predecessors such as H. P. Lovecraft.
While Mivilles style varies from novel to novel, matching the subject matter at
hand, it is generally marked by a baroque linguistic energy and always informed
by a highly sophisticated understanding of political theory. Miville received his
BA in social anthropology from Cambridge and an MA and PhD in international
relations from the London School of Economics, and that educational background
shows through clearly in his work, as does his own Marxist political commitment.
His doctoral dissertation, also demonstrating that commitment, was published in
book form as Between Equal Rights: A Marxist Theory of International Law (Haymarket Books, 2006).
Mivilles first novel, King Rat (1998), is a work of urban fantasy/horror that
builds upon the legend of the Pied Piper of Hamelin, updating the tale to contemporary times with surprising effectiveness. It gained considerable attention for its
young author and was nominated for several awards. Then, with the publication
of Perdido Street Station (2000), which won the 2001 Arthur C. Clarke Award and
British Fantasy Award, Miville announced himself as a major new voice in fantasy fiction and became a truly major figure in contemporary British literature.
In stunningly evocative prose, Miville creates the teeming city of New Crobuzon
(and the world of Bas-Lag that surrounds it), inhabited by a number of different
sentient species, all of which are brought vividly to life within a social and political context that helps Miville to succeed, as well as anyone ever has, in creating political commentary through imaginative fiction, combining fantasy, science
fiction, horror, and other genres. Perdido Street Station was then followed by two
other entries set in the same world to round out the Bas-Lag Trilogy: The Scar
(shortlisted for the 2003 Clarke Award) and Iron Council (2004, winner of the 2005
Clarke Award and the 2005 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel).
Miville followed with several seemingly lesser, but still interesting works,
including his first collection of short fiction, Looking for Jake (2005), which
includes The Tain, a novella (originally published in 2002) that is both a truly original vampire tale and an allegorical tale of revolutionary liberation from political
oppression. Finally, in Un Lun Dun (2007), Miville entered the burgeoning realm
of childrens fantasy fiction, winning the Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book
with a story that both builds upon a long British fantasy tradition and challenges
many of the conventions and assumptions of that tradition.
Miville next provided a further demonstration of his versatility with the Kafkaesque parallel worlds detective novel The City & The City (2009). This unusual
novel won the Clarke Award, the World Fantasy Award, and the Hugo Award for
Best Novelthe latter in a tie with Paolo Bacigalupis The Windup Girl. Miville
then again shifted gears with the darkly comic, and highly effective fantasy novel
Kraken (2010). He moved into the realm of pure science fiction with Embassytown
(2011), which won both a Hugo nomination and the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Embassytown is a novel of interplanetary colonization set on an
outpost planet where the unique linguistic practices of the indigenous inhabitants
allow the book to explore fundamental philosophical issues related to language.



M i l o s z , C z e s l aw

Miville returned to young adult fiction with Railsea (2012), a truly original
narrative set on a strange apocalyptic planet crisscrossed by ever-shifting railways
that hardy adventures can travel in an attempt to salvage valuable relics from the
pre-apocalyptic past. The narrative thus also functions as a planetary romance and
includes important elements of steampunk; it has been labeled a key work of the
emerging genre of salvagepunk. Miville has also written criticism and short stories
and has been the writer for the comic book series Dial H from DC Comics since its
inception as part of the New 52 event in 2012.
M. Keith Booker
Further Reading
Deszcz-Tryhubczak, Justyna. Minister, Said the Girl, We Need to Talk: China Mivilles
Un Lun Dun as Radical Fantasy for Children and Young Adults. Critical Insights: Contemporary Speculative Fiction. Ed. M. Keith Booker. Ipswich, MA: Grey House Publishing, 2013. 13751.
Freedman, Carl. To the Perdido Street Station: The Representation of Revolution in China
Mivilles Iron Council. Extrapolation 46.2 (2005): 23548.
Ganapathiraju, Aishwarya. Urban Retro-Futuristic Masculinities in China Mivilles Perdido Street Station. Journal of Popular Culture 45.1 (2012): 314.
Gordon, Joan. Hybridity, Heterotopia, and Mateship in China Mivilles Perdido Street Station. Science Fiction Studies 30 (2003): 45676.
Miller, Tim. The Motley & the Motley: Conflicting and Conflicted Models of Generic
Hybridity in Bas-Lag. Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction 39 (108)
(2010): 3965.
Rankin, Sandy. A Sharp & Bladey Interpretation: The Fantastic as a Marked Absence (or
Not) in China Mivilles Railsea. Critical Insights: Contemporary Speculative Fiction. Ed.
M. Keith Booker. Ipswich, MA: Grey House Publishing, 2013. 15268;
Rankin, Sandy. This Edged Hymn: China Miville Within and Against Dystopia. Critical
Insights: Dystopia. Ed. M. Keith Booker. Ipswich, MA: Salem Press, 2013. 22340.

M i l o s z , C z e s law ( 1 9 1 1 2 0 0 4 )
Czeslaw Milosz was a Polish poet, essayist, novelist, and public intellectual in his
reconstituted native land, to which he returned from exile in the early 1990s.
Miloszs personal history mirrors the twists and turns of 20th-century European
history. His native realm, now in Lithuania, has been reconstituted geographically as well as politically some half dozen times since his birth; he was a citizen
of Poland, living in his beloved Wilno (now Vilnius) only during the two interwar
decades. Milosz lived through World War II in occupied Warsaw; his writings
from that time express his anguished contemplation of the collapse of a European
civilization abandoned by God.
Miloszs hastily written first novel, The Seizure of Power (1953), records the
political anxieties and confusions during the wars endgame, as Poland teetered
between its German occupiers and its Soviet liberators. Seeing no plausible third
path, he chose to side with the new Communist authorities, serving as Warsaws
cultural attach in New York and Washington (19461950). Posted to Paris, he

M o Ya n

defected in 1951, citing his writers obligation to protect his moral and aesthetic
freedom from the demands of the state, as encoded in the theory and practice of
Socialist realism. The Captive Mind (1953), the most explicitly political of Miloszs
writings, is a subtle and devastating exploration of the many reasons why dialectical materialism, buttressed by Soviet power, proved so attractive to East European
intellectuals in the immediate postwar years. Milosz had already described this
attraction as a moral collapse in several scathing poems, including the cycle A
Moral Treatise (1947).
After his defection, Milosz settled uncomfortably in France, where he was
scorned by left-wing intellectuals. (Americas Cold War anxieties barred this Communist from immigrating until the University of California at Berkeley appointed
him to its faculty in 1960.) Banned from overt participation in Polish intellectual
life until his Nobel Prize for Literature, awarded in 1980, made it too awkward
for the Communist government to pretend he did not exist, Milosz used his occasional political essays to denounce the xenophobic nationalism of certain migr
factions. Returning to Poland in the 1990s, he undertook one more major act of
political correction: a thick, annotated collection of long-forgotten documents
and propagandistic texts from the interwar decades, intended to counter an emerging nostalgia for the pre-Communist good old days of 1930s Poland (Wyprawa w
dwudziestolecie [Excursion into the interwar decades], 1999).
However, Milosz is not primarily a political writer. He is a contemplative poet
obsessed with transience, an ecstatic poet delighting in Gods and mans world; he
is also, by historical accident, a poet from the other Europe, fated to bear witness
to the horrors of the 20th century but one whose true vocation, as he states in his
Nobel lecture, is to contemplate Being.
Madeline G. Levine
Further Reading
Cuddihy, Michael, ed. Czesaw Miosz: A Special Issue. Ironwood 18 (1981).
Fiut, Aleksander. The Eternal Moment: The Poetry of Czeslaw Milosz. Trans. Theodosia S.
Robertson. Berkeley: U of California P, 1990.
Milosz, Czeslaw. Native Realm: A Search for Self-Definition. Trans. Catherine S. Leach. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968.
Milosz, Czeslaw. Nobel Lecture. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1981.
Milosz, Czeslaw. The Witness of Poetry. Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1983.
Moz ejko, Edward. Between Anxiety and Hope: The Poetry and Writing of Czesaw Miosz.
Edmonton: U of Alberta P, 1988.
Nathan, Leonard, and Arthur Quinn. The Poets Work: An Introduction to Czeslaw Milosz.
Cambridge, MA: Harvard UP, 1991.

M o Ya n ( 1 9 5 5 )
Born Guan Moye, Mo Yan won his fame with Red Sorghum (Hong gaoliang, 1986),
a series of novellas adapted in 1987 into a successful film. He was a central figure in the shift to radically experimental prose, away from the scar literature



M o Ya n

and root-seeking literature that explored the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution (19661976). Together with Yu Hua, Su Tong, Ye Zhaoyan, and other writers slightly younger than himself, Mo Yan established avant-garde fiction as the
major literary trend in the Peoples Republic of China from the late 1980s to the
mid-1990s. Influenced by William Faulkner and Gabriel Garca Mrquez, Mo
Yans works combine down-to-earth local flavor with gruesome images and black
humor. His works include both crisp descriptions of concrete social issues and
surprising forays into surreal fantasy.
Born to a peasant family in Gaomi County, Shandong, Mo Yan would continue
to set his plots in the backwater villages of Gaomi. He was sent to the countryside
during the Cultural Revolution, joined the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) in 1976,
and entered the PLA Art Academy in 1984. Mo Yan started publishing in 1981 and
rose to national prominence after the appearance of his short story A Transparent
Carrot (Touming de hongluobo, 1984). Red Sorghum describes the resistance against
Japanese invaders in 1939, yet unlike previous accounts of the war, the novel does
not depict unmitigated heroism. Instead, the characters are humanly fallible, and
the narrative is ironic and self-mocking. The Garlic Ballads (Tiantang suantai zhi
ge, 1988) is set in a contemporary, reform-era village and explores the corruption
of petty officials; the theme is brought to the absurd in The Republic of Wine (Jiu
guo, 1993), in which a drunken detective finds outor hallucinatesthat local
cadres serve him the flesh of a human child. The epic concerns of Red Sorghum are
taken up in Big Breasts and Wide Hips (Feng ru fei tun, 1995), which spans the 20th
century in a rural community, and Sandalwood Torture (Tanxiang xing, 2001), set
against the Boxer Rebellion of 1900. His ninth novel, Forty-one Bombs (Sishiyi pao,
2003), returns to the 1990s and weaves a tale of revenge by a mentally challenged
youngster who goes after the village head. Mo Yans criticism of local politics, disregard of Maoist historiography, and brazen depictions of sex have often triggered
official disapproval.
In 2012, Mo Yans prolific writing and constant search for new literary forms
in voluminous novels, short stories, and essaysled to the receipt of the Nobel
Prize for Literature, after years of speculation that he was a serious candidate.
Many, including fellow Nobel laureate Herta Mller, were critical of the award,
feeling that Mo Yan, the vice-chairman of the government-backed Chinese Writers
Association, should not have received the award because of his alignment with the
Chinese government. Mo Yan responded that such critics had clearly not read his
work and should probably do so before denouncing it.
Yomi Braester
Further Reading
Lu Tonglin. Red Sorghum: Limits of Transgression. Politics, Ideology, and Literary Discourse
in Modern China: Theoretical Interventions and Cultural Critique. Ed. Liu Kang and Tang
Xiaobing. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1993. 188208.
Wang Jing. High Culture Fever: Politics, Aesthetics, and Ideology in Dengs China. Berkeley: U
of California P, 1997.

M o d e r n i s m

The mood attending the advent of literary modernism in the United States and
on the continent was far from uniform, hardly optimistic, and often downright
despairing over the contemporary state of arts and letters and, by extension, of the
world at large (for the former was understood by many modernist writers not as a
symptom but as a direct cause of the latter). Certainly Virginia Woolfs dramatic
1923 assertion that on or about December, 1910, human nature changed (194)
constitutes one attempt to chronicle the birth of literary modernism and even to
greet this change with some degree of excitement over emerging and innovative
practices for representing human character and subjectivity. For Woolf, this change
in human nature resulted from progressive developments that altered all kinds of
social relationships.
The relief inspired here by social transformations, whether actual or not, that
promised to inaugurate more egalitarian social relationships, especially for women,
was countered by grief and anxiety in others. James Joyces fiction and his supposed desire to escape the nightmare of history are at best ambivalent (critics like
Georg Lukcs have felt that Joyce retreated irresponsibly into subjectivism, disarm
ing meaningful historical intervention), and W. B. Yeatss famous lines Things
fall apart; the centre cannot hold; / Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world from
his 1919 poem The Second Coming suggest far less than an optimistic attitude
toward changes in the world that held out the prospect of the displacement of
established orders not just by the chaotic events of World War I but perhaps by the
Socialist revolutions in Russia, Germany, and Italy.
Many modernists echoed this vision of a world in a profound state of crisis,
while also believing that culture could make a crucial contribution to the resolution of this crisis. The increasing fragmentation of the world intensified by the
war, as well as the alienating effects of urban industrial capitalism that eroded the
organicism of the pastoral past, had much to do with the overwhelming of civilized
values by collective society and mass culture. The purity of language and sanctity
of received traditionT. S. Eliot and the modernist New Critics believedhad to
be sustained against these developments. Modernists such as Ezra Pound, in fact,
held the literati directly responsible for the fate of civilization through its guardianship of language and expression.
Writers such as Pound and Eliot often decried the state of modern civilization
from the right. Yet while modernism in its origins was certainly linked in sensibility to an endangered aristocratic sensibility and even to Fascism (Eliot voiced a
preference for Fascism over Communism, and Pounds admiration for Mussolini is
well known), the avant-garde formal revolutions in modernism held an attraction
for writers from a range of ideological persuasions, from right to left. Many writers
on the left did not ignore the vibrant experiments of modernism but tried to adapt
them to more consciously social and political ends. Certainly intellectuals and writers on the left shared the elite modernists disdain for industrial capitalism and its
commercial culture, but they rejected the elitist dismay and gloom toward the world
and its democratic prospects. While the elite modernists worried over preserving
their cultural traditions against the postwar tide of immigrants, people of color,




and Bolsheviks, it was precisely writers associated with these groups who appropriated modernist critical practice to challenge the racist class structure from the
left, as we will see below. Nonetheless, as the terms of the so-called Brecht-Lukcs
debate demonstrate, modernism still remained a source of critical conflict on the
left, subject to charges from critics such as Lukcs that its representational practices,
particularly its extreme subjectivism, prevented an adequate comprehension of the
relationship between individual consciousness and history. Brecht would argue that
the doctrines of realism were outdated and needed to be supplanted by modernist
techniques that more deftly allowed for the grasping of new historical and social
conditions, producing a new and heightened form of realism.
In any case, modernism became nothing less than an intense battlefield, the contestations over which bore complex relationships to struggles and power dynamics
going on elsewhere in society, as writers fought over the meaning of culture itself and
by extension their right to be counted among the human and to participate in the
production of society. The crisis of World War I that had shaken Western civilization
to its rootsand, the modernists stridently forwarded, from its rootswas the condensation of a host of social and historical developments linked most generally to
the rise of capitalism and commercialism that corroded social values by privileging
the accumulation of wealth over family, breeding, and education. Moreover, the fallout from the wars ravaging of Europe resulted in a substantial rise in immigration to
the United States, and the lack of a properly hierarchical order to contain this barbarian invasiona lack created by capitalismthreatened the cultural foundations
of those remaining fragments of civilization. This perceived threat often translated
into racist terms, especially anti-Semitic ones. Eliot, for example, argued that in
order for a stable cultural tradition to thrive, [t]he population should be homogeneous; where two or more cultures exist in the same place they are likely either to be
fiercely self-conscious or both to become adulterate. What is still more important is
unity of religious background; and the reasons of race and religion combine to make
any large number of free-thinking Jews undesirable (Klein 15).
This modernist rendering would establish the framework for cultural and political debate that some of the barbarians on the left would take up. While many
writers on the left held fast to the realist forms traditionally valorized in left-wing
critical circles, many also picked up the gauntlet thrown by Eliot and others and
responded in his terms. Hence, in Salome of the Tenements, Anzia Yezierska buys
into the modernist framing of the debate but attempts to reverse the valuations of
the terms of that frame; that is, she represents the racialized working-class character of Sonya as the source of life and cultural vibrancy, creativity, and renewal while
characterizing Manningwith his Puritan ancestry, breeding, and refined cultural
traditionas in fact sterile and moribund. Additionally, Yezierskas conception of
artistic practice directly challenges the characteristic ethos of high modernist practice, which, from its inception, rather than addressing the oppressed classes tended
to be directed at refining the sensibilities of an intellectual elite in ways simply
not available to the working classes. As a fashion designer and seamstress, Sonya
believes in what she calls the democracy of beauty and, at the end of the novel,
intends to open a shop that would serve the people of the ghetto in an attempt to

M o d e r n i s m

extend an aesthetic sensibility to those typically culturally disenfranchised, so to

speak, and to incorporate the beautiful into the utilitarian.
Similarly, W. E. B. Du Bois, in his 1928 novel Dark Princess, adopts the terms of
modernist persuasion and implicitly argues that civilizations salvation lies not in
the cultures of the elite classes but in the cultures of the working classes, including
the spirituals of African American working-class culture. In this novel, the protagonist Matthew Towns, after giving up on his desire to practice medicine because
of the racial discrimination he endures, travels through Europe supporting himself
as laborer, where he happens to meet the title character, who is part of a world
committee composed of elite representatives of the darker peoples of the world.
While putatively committed to ending oppression, this group of Asian and African
aristocrats replicates the elitist rhetoric of high modernist intellectuals with the difference that they identify themselves as the superior representatives of civilization,
arguing that the superior races are yellow and brown. This aristocracy even
marks Matthew as inferior, deeming African Americans to be a degraded people
bereft of culture. In a scene that recalls Du Boiss valorization of the spirituals from
his earlier Souls of Black Folk (1903), Matthew, as a response to this indictment of
African American culture, sings a spiritual in deep, rich tones for the princess,
convincing her of his conviction that culture can be attained by common people
and not just the elite.
Finally, as both Matthew and the princess return to the United States, become
laborers, and join the labor movement, the novel valorizes the working classes as
the ultimate producers of culture because they concretely build up and remake the
material world day after day and have a fuller and more intricate understanding of
the operations of this world precisely because of their participation in its production.
Du Boiss portrayal and definition of culture here sharply critiques and stands against
the high modernist racist and class-bound dismissals of Marx by writers such as
John Gould Fletcher, who wrote in the Criterion in 1929 that the reason for Marxs
naive dismissal of mans finest achievements was a function of his own peculiar
racial psychology. His confusion of thought, that of the wage-earning class with the
producing class, is a product of specifically Jewish psychology (Klein 6).
Thus, in these examples, Yezierska and Du Bois effectively engage in a racial
class struggle on the terrain of modernist discourse, challenging the terms of high
modernisms cultural elitism and trying to wrest the very concept of culture away
from its elitist moorings and to extend its use and application democratically.
Against Eliot, Pound, and other writers of the lost generation, such as Fitzgerald,
Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, E. E. Cummings, William
Faulkner, and Marianne Moore, who, Marcus Klein notes, were all of old American stock and were with remarkable uniformity of a certain class, one which
might well think of itself as a dispossessed social aristocracy (Klein 11), Yezierska and Du Bois were just two among many writers with left-wing associations
who, challenging Eliots definition of culture as requiring a society of classes and
hereditary transmission of social advantages, located the production of meaningful
culture not just among the laboring classes but in the act of labor or work itself.
The values informing this culture are decidedly those of democracy and equality




achievedthe narratives of these novels suggestthrough class struggle, with the

ultimate objective of the abolition of classes.
While these works engage modernist aesthetics perhaps more in terms of the
cultural content and thematics they address than the formal techniques and stylistic devices they deploy, they focus the ideology of high modernism through their
dialogic engagements with modernist narratives and forms. Particularly, Du Bois
and Yezierska highlight the aristocratic antidemocratic politics of high modernist
form and its cultural critique in their response to what Walter Benn Michaels has
identified as the nativist cultural logic of literary modernism. While the elite modernists such as Fitzgerald, Faulkner, and Eliot often engaged in cross-class critique
of society as a whole, the underlying solution was for the best of society, the elite
class with family histories, to regain its convictions and position of cultural leadership. In the second section of The Waste Land, A Game of Chess, Eliot moves
from the upper-class boudoir to the working-class pub, critiquing the malaise and
the lack of creativity, erotic connection, and purpose characterizing each; yet we
know that the cure for this situation lies finally with the poetthe intellectual aristocracywho can shore the fragments of our cultural tradition against our ruin.
The density of the allusiveness of the poem and the erudition the poem requires to
comprehend it already separates its readership into classes of the culturally capable
and classically educated and those who must look to others for cultural leadership.
Similarly, in The Great Gatsby, when Nick first visits Tom and Daisy Buchanan,
Fitzgerald represents this set as constantly yawning, without aims, having little
sense of purpose or direction, and largely devoid of passion for life. Yet at the end
of the novel, the commoners Gatsby and Myrtle Wilson, each represented as passionate and vital, are dead, and Tom and Daisy, each of old family stock, survive,
left to rekindle their natural affection for one another and to regain their lost conviction, that irrecoverable football game Tom seeks. Both Du Bois and Yezierska,
on the other hand, while not rejecting tradition, do reject the privileging of family
ancestry and heritage, which constitutes something of the Eliotic ideal order, in
favor of materialist historical identities rooted in the concrete practices of labor.
While in Du Bois and Yezierska we see an engagement with the class and racial
logics of elite modernism from a generally radical left perspective, the left cultural milieu was divided and not immediately receptive to works that relied on
and experimented with the innovative avant-garde formal techniques and stylistic devices of literary modernism. The publication, for example, of Henry Roths
tour de force proletarian modernist epic Call It Sleep (1934), a work obviously and
admittedly very much influenced by Joyces Ulysses, inspired heatedly conflicting
reviews in left literary circles. The critical divisions were shaped largely by differing
judgments as to the effectiveness of modernist representational practice to grasp
society historically. Despite the novels application of the technique of fragmentation
and intense stream-of-consciousness to dramatize the organic reconstruction of the
various immigrant voices into a collective, polyglot working-class consciousness
(as would Pietro Di Donatos 1939 proletarian modernist tour de force novel Christ
in Concrete) and in general to comprehend the social totality in the novel, negative
reviews excoriated what they viewed primarily as the excessive Freudianism of the

M o d e r n i s m

novel and its subjective impressionism, criticizing the novel as too introspective
and basically balking at the novels symbolic and experimental techniques, partly
inspired by such modernist icons as Eliot, Joyce, and Freud. Meanwhile, a work
such as John Dos Passoss U.S.A. trilogy (19301936) employs a panoply of Joycean modernist narrative techniques in the interest of a leftist assault on the values
of modern consumer capitalist society only to collapse into a final despair, almost as
if Dos Passoss modernist techniques are unable to bear the weight of leftist critique.
Deploying the stream-of-consciousness narration advocated by Woolf in her
essay Modern Fiction (1919) and most notably used by Joyce, the novel fell subject to critical debates exemplary of the Lefts divided assessment of literary modernism, particularly of the positions represented by the Marxist philosopher Georg
Lukcs and the Marxist playwright Bertolt Brecht. Long favoring a realist practice
that represented people, practices, and things as the effects or embodiments of
larger historical processes, Lukcs charged that modernism was merely a decadent
genre that, like the naturalist fiction of which it was an offspring, perceives reality
in its factual immediacy divorced from the objective reality of society, which is a
historically changing social totality. Whether describing objects or the sense-data
of psychological experience, the representations are effectively static, abstracted
from historical process and thus incapable of providing insight into our own ability to participate in the production and transformation of reality. While for the
realist the goal is to penetrate the laws governing objective reality and to uncover
the deeper, hidden, mediated, not immediately perceptible network of relations
that go to make up society (Taylor 38), the modernist only captures the surface
perceptions divorced from these governing laws. Hence, Lukcs levels the following much-debated critique against Joyces Ulysses: The perpetually oscillating
patterns of sense- and memory-data, their powerfully chargedbut aimless and
directionlessfields of force give rise to an epic structure which is static, reflecting
a belief in the basically static character of events (Lukcs 18). Hence, the subjectivism of Joycefor Lukcs, a position that has generated much controversy
constitutes a flight from history into abstract psychology and sense perception.
Brecht, however, defended the experimental techniques of modernism and
argued that formalistic experimentation could be used to explode the reified illusions of capitalist ideology and, by estranging or alienating the audience from the
taken-for-granted structures of their everyday life, provoke the audience into selfconscious reflection on existing social arrangements and, perhaps, even to action.
He argued that the social reality had changed since the age of realism that Lukcs
valorizes, and hence new methods are necessary: Reality changes; in order to represent it, modes of representation must also change (Taylor 82). Lukcss method
called for representing people as organically integrated into the social totality in
order to challenge the illusions that foster a sense of alienation from historical process. Brecht, however, felt that such representation reconciled contradictions and
promoted an illusion of harmony that would allow for a catharsis in his audience.
Indeed, Brecht wanted a realism that captured the totality but argued that certain
kinds of modernist practice, like the montage, might be better suited to representing the increasingly complex world of developing capitalism.




This debate regarding the ideology of modernism is far from settled and has no
easy answer, requiring perhaps text-specific study. In addition, there is the problem of separating the ideologies of the modernists from those of critics who have
been responsible for the formation of our perceptions of modernism. For example,
modernism was first institutionalized as the paradigm of high culture in the West
during the 1950s, when proponents of the New Criticism, themselves highly conservative, saw in the work of modernists such as Joyce and Eliot a reflection of their
own reactionary horror at the dehumanizing consequences of modern industrial
society. In addition, they saw in the work of such writers an attempt to establish,
through an escape out of history and into aesthetics, an alternative vision of order
that could stand against the confusion of contemporary reality, pointing the way
toward a more genteel future based on the past. Given the institutional power
of the New Criticism in the United States in the 1950s, this vision became the
dominant view of modernism for decades. Meanwhile, though the principal New
Critics were themselves almost as appalled by capitalism as they were by Communism, this New Critical view was conscripted in the interest of Western Cold
War propaganda, making modernism the epitome of aesthetic sophistication and
integrity, as opposed to the supposedly debased art of the Soviet Union, presented
in this propaganda as shackled in the service of Communist ideology. Thus, as
Andreas Huyssen notes, modernism was domesticated for just such purposes in
the 1950s and turned into a propaganda weapon in the cultural-political arsenal
of Cold War anti-Communism (190).
Huyssen himself agrees that many modernist writers were elitists who fought
to preserve genuine high art as opposed to the debased popular art of the marketplace. On the other hand, he acknowledges that modernists such as Brecht were
involved in quite different egalitarian projects. Meanwhile, beginning with the
rediscovery of the work of Woolf by the emerging feminist criticism of the 1960s
and 1970s, many modernist writers formerly regarded as elitist aestheticists have
been reread as engaged artists who mounted, through their writing, subversive
challenges to the prevailing bourgeois order. Joyce, here, is the paradigmatic case.
Much admired by the New Critics, Joyce had formerly been regarded as the epitome of the artist who seeks to create his works within a purely aesthetic realm, free
of all contaminating truck with the real. In recent decades, however, critics have
paid increasing attention to Joyces interest in radical politics, while Joyce himself
has more and more come to be seen as an important forerunner of postcolonial
literature, whose challenges to Catholic propriety and repression were at least
matched by his anticolonial assaults on British bourgeois rule in Ireland.
Tim Libretti

Further Reading
Booker, M. Keith. Ulysses, Capitalism, and Colonialism: Reading Joyce after the Cold War.
Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000.
Eagleton, Terry. Exiles and Emigres: Studies in Modern Literature. New York: Schocken, 1970.

M o m a d ay, N . Sc o t t

Eliot, T. S. Notes towards the Definition of Culture. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1949.
Filreis, Alan. Modernism from Right to Left: Wallace Stevens, the Thirties, and Literary Radicalism. New York: Cambridge UP, 1994.
Huyssen, Andreas. After the Great Divide: Modernism, Mass Culture, Postmodernism. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1986.
Klein, Marcus. Foreigners: The Making of American Literature, 19001940. Chicago: U of
Chicago P, 1981.
Levenson, Michael, ed. The Cambridge Companion to Modernism. Cambridge: Cambridge
UP, 1999.
Lucas, John. The Radical Twenties: Writing, Politics, and Culture. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers
UP, 1999.
Lukcs, Georg. Realism in Our Time: Literature and the Class Struggle. Trans. John Mander
and Necke Mander. New York: Harper and Row, 1964.
Lunn, Eugene. Marxism and Modernism: An Historical Study of Lukcs, Brecht, Benjamin, and
Adorno. Berkeley: U of California P, 1982.
Michaels, Walter Benn. Our America: Nativism, Modernism, and Pluralism. Durham, NC:
Duke UP, 1995.
Nelson, Cary. Repression and Recovery: Modern American Poetry and the Politics of Cultural
Memory, 19101945. Madison: U of Wisconsin P, 1989.
Nicholls, Peter. Modernisms: A Literary Guide. Berkeley: U of California P, 1995.
Taylor, Ronald, ed. Aesthetics and Politics. London: NLB, 1977.
Williams, Raymond. The Politics of Modernism: Against the New Conformists. London: Verso,
Woolf, Virginia. The Virginia Woolf Reader. New York: Harcourt, 1984.

M o m a d ay, N . S c o t t ( 1 9 3 4 )
Born in Lawton, Oklahoma, N. Scott Momaday spent his youth on reservations in
the Southwest, where his Cherokee mother and Kiowa father worked. At Stanford
University, he studied poetry and completed a PhD in English. In 1968, Momaday
published his first novel, House Made of Dawn, which received the Pulitzer Prize
and ushered in a renaissance in American Indian literature in the midst of Red
Power. The novel announced a spirited departure from previous American Indian
novels, in a hopeful vision of a reclaimed indigenous culture, land, and identity, as
well as in unprecedented modernist prose that melds together ritual, history, and
landscape in elegant lyricism. Such literary qualities set a new standard for American Indian writers.
House Made of Dawn charts the struggle of the protagonist Abel to regain his
Jemez culture and lands. On his return from World War II, he murders an albino
man, is imprisoned, and is later deposited in Los Angeles. The novel delivers an
unparalleled portrayal of American Indians enduring federal programs to forcibly
relocate them to cities, but redeems Abel through a friendship with a Navajo man
who sends Abel home, where he awakens to his culture in a ritual race at dawn.
Momaday continues such life-affirming portrayals of Native people in his 1969
essay The Man Made of Words, in which he presents his views on language and
imagination. Exemplifying this process is the mixed-genre work The Way to Rainy
Mountain (1969), in which the narrator returns to his Kiowa lands and engages



Morrison, Toni

mythic, ethnographic, and familial voices to recover his sense of place. Momaday enacts a similar but more autobiographical journey in The Names (1976). In
The Ancient Child (1989), Momadays protagonist is a Kiowa artist who, adopted
by white parents, returns to his homeland, where he discovers romance with a
Kiowa-Navajo woman healer. Like his lyrical prose, Momadays poetry is full of
sharp sound and color, as displayed in The Gourd Dancer (1976) and Again the Far
Morning: New and Selected Poems(2011). Momaday has also written a significant
amount of drama (as in the 2007 compilation Three Plays: The Indolent Boys, Children of the Sun, and The Moon in Two Windows) and has produced important work
as a watercolor artist. The latter is on good display in the illustrations to his book
In the Bears House (1999)
Sean Teuton
Further Reading
Allen, Paula Gunn. Bringing Home the Fact: Tradition and Continuity in the Imagination.
Recovering the Word: Essays on Native American Literature. Ed. Brian Swann and Arnold
Krupat. Berkeley: U of California P, 1987. 56379.
Evers, Lawrence J. Words and Place: A Reading of House Made of Dawn. Critical Essays
on Native American Literature. Ed. Andrew Wiget. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1985. 21130.
Landrum, Larry. The Shattered Modernism of Momadays House Made of Dawn. Modern
Fiction Studies 42 (1996): 76386.
Woodard, Charles L. Ancestral Voice: Conversations with N. Scott Momaday. Lincoln: U of
Nebraska P, 1989.

Morrison, Toni (1931 )

Born Chloe Anthony Wofford in Lorain, Ohio, Morrison grew up in a tight-knit
African American family and was the first woman in her family to attend college.
After earning BA and MA degrees in English from Howard University (1953) and
Cornell University (1955) respectively, she taught briefly before entering the publishing industry. Rising to the position of senior editor, she worked, among other
things, to launch African American writers such as Toni Cade Bambara and Gayl
Jones and thus, in this editorial capacity, has had a hand in shaping and diversifying American literature. Morrisons own first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published
in 1970, and she has subsequently published nine more novels: Sula (1973), Song
of Solomon (1977), Tar Baby (1981), Beloved (1987), Jazz (1992), Paradise (1997),
Love (2003), A Mercy (2008), and Home (2012). Morrison received the 1988 Pulitzer Prize for Beloved and was awarded the 1993 Nobel Prize for Literature. She is
the first African American and first American woman to win the Nobel Prize, and
this international recognition has solidified the place of her novels and, simultaneously, of the African American experience within the canon of American literature.
Because all of her novels focus on and engage the complexities of African American existence within a nation built on the contradictions of freedom and racism,

M ll e r , H e i n e r

her texts are necessarily political. Moreover, as her Nobel Prize lecture reveals, she
views writing as praxis, with narrative as one of the principal ways in which we
absorb knowledge (7) and language...as agencyas an act with consequences
(13). Indeed, Morrison takes her position as a writer extremely seriously. She does
not shy away from difficult topics and questions as her novels confrontand force
readers to confrontthe ways in which race has structured and continues to structure American thought and life for all people living in the United States. Although,
as she argues in her nonfictional Playing in the Dark, American Literature has
always been shaped by its encounter with racial ideology (16), her novels are
distinguished in that they explore from an African American perspective the psychic and material effects of racial ideologies on African Americans and their communities. In addition, Morrisons novels pay careful attention to the ways in which
racism intersects with ideologies of class and gender.
That Morrison views writing as a way to engage culture is further evidenced
in her nonfiction writing. Not only has Playing in the Dark become a key text
within literary criticism, but her decision to edit and contribute to two volumes
engaging the two national public spectacles of the 1990s that brought race to the
forefrontthe Thomas-Hill Congressional hearings (Race-ing Justice, En-gendering
Power, 1992) and the O. J. Simpson court case (Birth of a Nationhood, 1997)
demonstrates the possibility of and Morrisons commitment to intellectual engagement with the politics of race in the United States.
Magali Cornier Michael
Further Reading
Gates, Henry Louis, Jr., and K. A. Appiah, eds. Toni Morrison: Critical Perspectives Past and
Present. New York: Amistad, 1993.
McKay, Nellie Y., and Kathryn Earle, eds. Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Toni Morrison.
New York: MLA, 1997.
Morrison, Toni. The Nobel Lecture in Literature, 1993. New York: Knopf, 1997.
Morrison, Toni. Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination. New York: Vintage, 1992.
Peterson, Nancy J., ed. Toni Morrison: Critical and Theoretical Approaches. Baltimore: Johns
Hopkins UP, 1997.

M ll e r , H e i n e r ( 1 9 2 9 1 9 9 5 )
The son of a Socialist functionary who was jailed by the Nazis and then privileged
(before being denounced) in the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Mller rose
above the hardships of life in two dictatorships (the subtitle of his autobiography,
War without Battle [Krieg ohne Schlacht, 1992]) to become the most important dramatist produced by the GDR. His early dramasfor which the East German regime
honored himwere relatively naturalistic treatments of industrial workers problems, which continued the topical dialectical tradition of Brechts Berliner Ensemble.



M ll e r , H e i n e r

In 1961, however, Mller was expelled from the GDR Writers Union for a play that
spoke too frankly about land reforms and, in 1965, was denounced by Erich Honecker for a play critical of industrial planning. Sporadic production and publication
bans followed, during which he turned to adaptation of classics and counterplays
to Brechts Lehrstck as veiled modes of political critique. Driven in part by frustration with political stagnation in the GDR during the 1970s and 1980s, Mller went
on to develop a highly idiosyncratic bricolage-dramaturgy of literary fragments in
plays such as Hamletmachine (Hamletmaschine, 1977) and Germania Death in Berlin
(Germania Tod in Berlin, 1956/1971), which attracted enormous interest in the West.
Faced with the fait accompli of his international avant-garde stardom, the GDR government embraced him as a national hero in the 1980s.
Mller held solidly Marxist convictions and remained loyal to his country in
his sardonic fashion, but he was also a notoriously provocative public commentator and a cynical hoaxster in the vein of Andy Warhol. His mature works are
difficult, sometimes infuriating, and frequently susceptible to accusations of evasion, circumlocution, and disingenuousness. Mller challenges received notions of
originality as well as the basic strategy of all parable theater based on Brecht. The
politics of his drama rests not on current events or topical surfaces but on implicit
critiques of the historical ideology and modes of representation found in the
source works Mller so liberally adapted. His is a politics of dialogism embedded
in points of cultural-historical friction with prominent figures such as Shakespeare,
Kleist, Mayakovsky, Brecht, Beckett, and Genet. Mller can also be read politically
through the lens of Foucault, as a canny analyst of immanent power, or through
Artaud, as a deconstructor of the death-of-the-author myth. His political thought
is too complex to be reduced to ideological formulas. The book-length interviews
he gave on the state of world affairs after the fall of the Berlin wallOn the State of
the Nation (Zur Lage der Nation, 1990), Beyond the Nation (Jenseits der Nation, 1991),
I Owe the World a Corpse (Ich schulde der Welt einen Toten, 1995), and I Am a Land
Surveyor (Ich bin ein Landvermesser, 1996)are among his most sophisticated and
penetrating creations.
Jonathan Kalb
Further Reading
Case, Sue-Ellen. Developments in Post-Brechtian Political Theater: The Plays of Heiner
Mller. Diss. University of California, Berkeley, 1981.
Eke, Norbert Otto. Heiner Mller: Apokalypse und Utopie. Paderborn: Ferdinand Schningh,
Kalb, Jonathan. The Theater of Heiner Mller. Rev. and enl. ed. New York: Limelight Editions, 2001.
Schulz, Genia. Heiner Mller. Stuttgart: Metzler, 1980.
Teraoka, Arlene Akiko. The Silence of Entropy or Universal Discourse: The Postmodernist Poetics of Heiner Mller. New York: Peter Lang, 1985.

M ll e r , H e r ta

M ll e r , H e r ta ( 1 9 5 3 )
Born in Romania as a member of that countrys ethnic German minority, Herta
Mller was the daughter of a father who had been a member of the German
Waffen SS in Romania. She was thus well positioned to experience the backlash
against Germans in postwar Romania in memory of the atrocities committed by
the Nazis there during World War II. Indeed, Germans in postwar Romania were
a strongly oppressed minority, a situation that continued through the Communist
rule of President Nicolae Ceausescu, who was in office from 1967 until he was
overthrown and executed by firing squad in 1989. The treatment of the German
minority in Romania has provided what is probably the most important subject
matter for Mllers subsequent fiction. As a member of that minority, Mller found
herself significantly disadvantaged, even as late as the 1970s, when she had difficulty finding work as a young adult due to her ethnic background. Her first book,
Niederungen (Nadirs), written in German, appeared in Romania in 1982, but in a
heavily state-censored version. On the other hand, this childs view of life among
Romanias Germans was also criticized by many in the Romanian German community for its unsympathetic portrayal of life in Romanias German villages.
Mllers story collection Drckender Tango(Oppressive tango) was published in
Bucharest in 1984, but her subsequent work has generally been first published
in Germany, beginning with Der Mensch ist ein groer Fasan auf der Welt in 1986
(published in English asThe Passport in 1989). In 1987, Mller and her husband,
the novelist Richard Wagner, were allowed to emigrate to Germany, settling in West
Berlin, where they have remained.
Mller has published continually since moving to Germany, as well as lecturing
at various German and other universities. Her most important work has continued
to be fiction, though she has published essays and poetry as well. Her novels that
have been translated into English include Reisende auf einem Bein (1989; Traveling
on One Leg 1998), which explores the life of a Romanian-born German woman
newly emigrated to Germany. The novels Herztier (1994; The Land of Green Plums
1996), and Heute wr ich mir lieber nicht begegnet (1997; The Appointment 2001) are
set among the ethnic Germans living in Romania, focusing on political oppression
In 2009, Mller published the novelAtemschaukel(The Hunger Angel), which
gained considerable international recognition and won theFranz Werfel Human
Rights Award.The book, inpired by the real-world experience of Oskar Pastior,
focuses on the journey of a young man to a gulag in the Soviet Union, noting
that many Germans in Romanian inTransylvaniawere transported to labor camps
in the Soviet Union after World War II, as that country began to rebuild from
the destruction wrought upon it by the German invasion during the war. Mller
topped off the success of The Hunger Angel by winning the 2009 Nobel Prize for
Literature in recognition of her career achievements.
M. Keith Booker



M ll e r , H e r ta

Further Reading
Brandt, Bettina, and Valentina Glajar, eds.Herta Mller. Politics and Aesthetics. Lincoln: U of
Nebraska P, 2013.
Grewe, Maria S. Estranging Poetic: On the Poetic of the Foreign in Select Works by Herta Mller
and Yoko Tawada. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2009.
Haines, Brigid, and Lyn Marven, eds. Herta Mller. New York: Oxford UP, 2013.
Marven,Lyn. Body and Narrative in Contemporary Literatures in German: Herta Mller, Libuse
Monkov, Kerstin Hensel. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2005.

Na b o k o v, Vla d i m i r ( 1 8 9 9 1 9 7 7 )
Received opinion is that the Russian-born Nabokovs aesthetic is narcissistic and
contemptuous not just of politics but of the entire modern world and events in
it. As his biographer Brian Boyd records, in Saint Petersburg in October 1917 (in
the midst of the Russian Revolution), the young Nabokov was writing verse one
evening and merely noted fierce rifle fire and the foul crackle of a machine gun
in the street outside. The author himself, in the 1963 introduction to Bend Sinister
(1947), contentedly proposed that the influence of my epoch on my present book
is as negligible as the influence of my books, or at least of this book, on my epoch.
Yet the novel itselfbeginning with its cunning title, combining the notion of
lineal illegitimacy with that of a swerve to the Leftis essentially an idiosyncratic
satire on the Bolshevik upheaval.
Nabokovs father, a leader of the Kadet Party, was notable enough to be scathingly portrayed throughout Trotskys The History of the Russian Revolution (1932
1933). The advent of the Soviets dispossessed Nabokov of an inheritance worth
2 million and caused him, before he reached the age of 20, to embark on a life
that was largely spent in exile and in relative poverty in France, England, and the
United States. Other novels to which this personal legacy is constitutive are Invitation to a Beheading (1938) and Pale Fire (1962), whose modernist (or postmodernist) distantiation from the politics their protagonists cannot escape is, despite their
authors ambiguous disavowals, a demonstrably ideological choice. In addition,
Nabokovs best-known and most critically respected novel, Lolita (1956), can be
read both as a scathing satire of American consumer culture and as an ambiguous
indictment of the aestheticism of its narrator, Humbert Humbert.
Macdonald Daly
Further Reading
Boyd, Brian. Vladimir Nabokov: The Russian Years. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1990.
Boyd, Brian. Vladimir Nabokov: The American Years. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1991.
Sharpe, Tony. Vladimir Nabokov. London: Edward Arnold, 1991.

Na i pa u l , V. S . ( 1 9 3 2 )
V. S. Naipaul was born in Trinidad to Brahman Hindu parents. They were members of Trinidads Indian community who had come to the Caribbean Islands as
indentured laborers to work the sugar fields owned primarily by British landlords.


N a i pa u l , V. S .

According to family tradition, Naipauls father was slated to be a Brahman priest but
could not bear the rigors of apprenticeship and chose secular education instead.
Seepersad Naipaul pursued a variety of careers, including stints as a news reporter
and writer, but failed to secure a stable financial future for himself or his family.
However, he inspired his children to obtain a fine education in Trinidads British
school system. (Naipaul recounts his fathers life in the 1961 novel A House for
Mr. Biswas.) The familys emphasis on education motivated Naipaul to do well in
school, and he earned a prestigious scholarship to study English literature at University College, Oxford. After graduation, while working for the Caribbean service
of the British Broadcasting Corporation in the late 1950s, he began writing, and
has been writing ever since. Naipaul lives in England with his second wife.
Spanning nearly four decades, Naipauls writing career has been prolific. He has
authored books of fiction, travel narrative, and autobiography, some of them splendidly combining all three genres. In addition, Naipaul has edited several books,
one of which is a collection of short stories by his father. Winner of the Nobel
Prize for Literature in 2001, Naipaul nevertheless remains a controversial author
because of his conservative views on many issues. His writing on third-world and
Islamic countries has generated intense resentment among some readers who think
his characterization of these nationsgenerally unfavorableis biased. Many, for
example, were offended by his depiction of Indian squalor in the travelogue An
Area of Darkness (1964). Even in fiction dealing with decolonized societiessuch
as A Bend in the River (1979)Naipaul appears keener on blaming the victim
than the behind-the-scenes forces inimical to the interests of postcolonial nations.
Indeed, in diagnosing the ills of third-world nations, Naipaul dismisses virtually
all of them as imperfect attempts to join the universal civilization, a Naipaulian
notion of a world civilization based on the affluent West.
Other postcolonial authors have joined Naipauls detractors. Derek Walcott,
another Caribbean Nobel laureate, humorously describes Naipaul as V. S. Nightfall in At Last, a poem. Chinua Achebes strong dislike of Naipaul appears in
many of his critical writings. Indeed, to Achebe, Naipauls Africa in A Bend in the
River misrepresents the continent in a much worse way than does Conrads Heart
of Darkness (8791).
Over the years, though, Naipaul has softened his views. His India: A Million
Mutinies Now (1990) is a travelogue with a difference. In it, the traveler-author
recedes into the background, allowing the people he encounters voices of their
own. The Enigma of Arrival (1987), a much more complex work, appears at times
as a travel narrative, as fiction, as autobiography, and as all three. It comes as no
surprise that the Nobel committee mentioned this work in particular and praised
Naipauls mastery of his materials in its award citation.
Farhad B. Idris
Further Reading
Achebe, Chinua. Home and Exile. New York: Oxford UP, 2000.

N at i v e A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

Hayward, Helen. The Enigma of V. S. Naipaul: Sources and Contexts. New York: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2002.
Mustafa, Fawzia. V. S. Naipaul. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995.
Nixon, Rob. London Calling: V. S. Naipaul, Postcolonial Mandarin. New York: Oxford UP,
Weiss, Timothy. On the Margins: The Art of Exile in V. S. Naipaul. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1992.

Nat i v e A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e
Long before Europeans arrived in North America, indigenous peoples melded literature and politics in The Great Law of Peace to end wars and ensure democracy
among Indian nations. In this epic, Peacemaker and his student, Hiawatha, unite
several tribes in the Iroquois Confederacy.
Upon European invasion, indigenous writings became increasingly political, as
American Indians resisted conquest, presented their own histories, and affirmed
treaties, such as in the translated protest speeches of Powhatan (1609), Tecumseh
(1811), and Seattle (1887). Also translated and recorded throughout the 19th
century, American Indian autobiographiessuch as those of Black Hawk (1833),
Pretty Shield (1932), and Black Elk (1932)challenge dominant narratives of
Americas manifest destiny.
As early as 1654, American Indians at Harvard wrote protest literature in English.
By the 18th century, Mohegan minister Samson Occom in A Sermon Preached at
the Execution of Moses Paul (1772) and Pequot minister William Apess in The Experience of Five Christian Indians (1833) deployed Christian arguments to decry the
treatment of Indian lives and land. In the early 19th century, Indians such as the
Cherokee writer Elias Boudinot in An Address to the Whites (1826) publicly rejected
U.S. representations of Indian civilizations. Native authors by the mid-19th century also appropriated European genres for political ends. In the first novel by
an American Indian, The Life and Adventures of Joaqun Murieta (1854), Cherokee
author John Rollin Ridge chronicled the unrelenting pursuit of a Mexican Indian
man expelled from his land by white miners during the California gold rush.
Indian writers entered the 20th century in the unlikely protest genres of lyric
performance and satirical journalism. Mohawk poet E. Pauline Johnson began her
literary career in 1892 with A Cry from an Indian Wife, an Indian account of
the Mtiss 1869 armed resistance to the Canadian government. In 1910, Creek
journalist Alexander Posey began his voluminous Fus Fixico Letters series in newspapers across Indian Territory, in which he lampooned white settlers, bureaucrats,
and businessmen eager to disband tribal governments and obtain Indian lands;
Poseys colloquial speech and oblique political humor prefigured those of later
Cherokee humorist Will Rogers.
American Indian emancipation autobiography peaked in Sarah Winnemuccas Life among the Piutes (1883). Winnemuccas appeal to protect Indian women
from aggressive miners and settlers and to educate Indian children inspired the
eras growing womens movement. After this sentimental work, early 20th-century



N at i v e A m e r i c a n L i t e r at u r e

Indian writers composed direct challenges to the U.S. mainstream in their life
writing. Sioux writer Charles Eastmans From the Deep Woods to Civilization (1916)
questions Western education and solves the contradiction between U.S. Christianity and capitalism with tribalism. One of the first American Indians to graduate
from the notoriously cruel Carlisle Indian boarding school, Sioux writer Luther
Standing Bear, in My People the Sioux (1928), critiques U.S. civilization and validates indigenous history and society.
During the 1930s, Native writers conducted politics in the novel but often presented hopeless Indian-white relations, in which U.S. laws crushed Indian resistance or blocked cultural understanding. John Joseph Mathewss Sundown (1934)
portrays insidious U.S. attacks on traditional life and pressure to assimilate during
the 1920s Osage oil boom. Salish writer DArcy McNickles The Surrounded (1936)
concerns the struggle of a young Indian man to come home and recover a tribal
culture beset by white settlers and politicians.
After a dormant period, Red Power protest awakened American Indian literature. In 1969, Kiowa writer N. Scott Momaday won the Pulitzer Prize for House
Made of Dawn, a novel in which the protagonist escapes oppressive white institutions to recover his Jemez culture. Other authors from this literary revival, such as
James Welch, Simon Ortiz, and Dallas Chief Eagle, advocated colonial resistance.
Exemplary is Laguna writer Leslie Marmon Silkos novel Ceremony (1977), which
explains the cultural healing of its protagonist and confronts the global threat of
nuclear weapons.
The 1980s saw the full emergence of Indian women writers and poets, such as
Paula Gunn Allen, whose novel The Woman Who Owned the Shadows (1983) envisions a feminist return to her Pueblo homelands. In She Had Some Horses (1983),
Muskogee poet Joy Harjo also considers indigenous women and politics. Louise
Erdrichs novel Tracks (1988) portrays an Ojibway community enduring famine
and confiscation of tribal lands after the 1887 Dawes Act. Despite the conservative
Reagan years, Native theorists contributed to a body of Indian writing dedicated to
Native treaty rights to lands and worship. Indian intellectuals such as Ward Churchill in his book Marxism and Native Americans (1984) and Jack Forbes in Native
Americans and Nixon (1981) demand U.S. recognition of Indian nationhood.
At the turn of the 21st century, Native writers engaged politics on both a hemispheric and a community level. While Silkos novel Almanac of the Dead (1991)
imagines the fulfillment of an indigenous prophecy to expel Europeans, Meskwaki
poet Ray Young Bears verse novel Black Eagle Child (1992) and Choctaw writer
LeAnne Howes novel Shell Shaker (2001) address local tribal politics. In the novel
Drowning in Fire (2001), Craig Womack explores a gay Muskogee mans identity.
Today, Indian theorists such as Anishinaabe scholar Gerald Vizenor, in Manifest Manners (1994), Sioux intellectual Elizabeth Cook-Lynn, in Anti-Indianism in
Modern America (2001), and Osage scholar Robert Allen Warrior, in Tribal Secrets
(1995), organize these writings. Native political writing matures with Comanche
intellectual Paul Chaat Smith and Robert Allen Warriors Like a Hurricane (1996),
a narrative history of the Indian movement during the 1970s to give indigenous

N e r u d a , Pa b l o

people a moment of political reflectionone text among many to serve the cause
for Native American rights.
Sean Teuton
Further Reading
Deloria, Vine, Jr. Spirit and Reason: The Vine Deloria, Jr., Reader. Golden, CO: Fulcrum,
Jaimes, M. Annette, ed. The State of Native America: Genocide, Colonization, and Resistance.
Boston: South End P, 1992.
Konkle, Maureen. Writing Indian Nations: Native Intellectuals and the Politics of Historiography,
18271863. Chapel Hill: U of North Carolina P, 2004.
Weaver, Jace. That the People Might Live: Native American Literatures and Native American
Community. New York: Oxford UP, 1997.
Womack, Craig C. Red on Red: Native American Literary Separatism. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1999.

N e r u d a , Pa b l o ( 1 9 0 4 1 9 7 3 )
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was born Neftal Ricardo Reyes Basoalto on July 12,
1904, in the small town of Parral, in Chile, where his father worked for the railroad and his motherwho died soon after he was bornwas a teacher. Encouraged by the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, who befriended him very early, Neruda
was writing poetry by the time he was 12. When he was 16, some of his poems
appeared in the journal Selva Austral (Southern jungle), where he first published
under the pen name Pablo Neruda, at the same time linking himself to the Czech
poet Jan Neruda, whom he admired, and avoiding a conflict with his father, who
was not pleased with his sons desire to be a poet. Nerudas first book, Crepusculario, appeared in 1923, as he began his studies in French and pedagogy at the
University of Chile in Santiago.
His early interest in government and politics led to his appointmentover a
period of eight years beginning in 1927as honorary consul to Ceylon, Singapore, Java, Madrid, and other stations. Toward the end of these appointments,
he published Residencia en la Tierra, the collection that clearly established him
as a major poet. His next bookpublished in 1937, after the death of his friend
Federico Garca Lorca in the Spanish Civil Warwas marked by a strong shift
in concern from the personal to the political. He resigned his post in Spain at this
time because he was openly on the side of the republicans, opposed to Franco and
his Fascists.
With his appointment as consul general in Mexico in 1939, Neruda began a
major revision of his earlier collection Canto General de Chile, titling it now simply
Canto General. This collection met with almost immediate acceptance throughout
the Spanish-speaking world and soon throughout most of the rest of the world,
as it was translated into a dozen languages. By the time Neruda returned from



New Masses

Spain to Chile later that year, he was beginning to realize a considerable amount
in royalties from the sale of his increasingly popular bookspoetry collections,
though they were. He invested the royalties in a home in the peninsular village of
Isla Negra.
In 1943, he married one of his several romantic interests, Delia del Carril, who
strongly encouraged him to become more politically involved. That year, as a
member of the Communist Party, he was elected to the Chilean senate. In 1947,
his protests against the Chilean governments repression of striking miners forced
him into hiding until he went into exile in 1952; he was allowed to return home
within a few months. Much of what he wrote while all this was going on is deeply
political in its intent. In 1953, he was awarded the Stalin Prize in Literature. He
was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. Two years later, he died of
leukemia at his home in Santiago.
To say that Nerudas poems became seriously politicalthat is, publicis not
to say that they became preachy or even very direct. He was always a poet of
indirection, so that what a reader takes from a Neruda poem is nearly always an
impression rather than instruction; Neruda was never on a soapbox, despite his
strong political beliefs and commitments.
Miller Williams
Further Reading
ODaly, William. Pablo Neruda. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon P, 1984.
Reiss, Frank. The Word and the Stone. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1972.
Teitelboim, Volodia. Neruda: An Intimate Biography. Austin: U of Texas P, 1991.
Torres-Rioseco, Arturo. New World Literature: Tradition and Revolt in Latin America. Berkeley:
U of California P, 1949.

New Masses
Shortly before its demise in 1948, the New Masses vaunted the many years it had
fought the money-lords, the Fascists and fakers, the corruptors of literature and
art with its fiction and poetry, art, reportage, essays, and editorials. It is precisely
this commitment to struggle that has made some dismiss New Massess contents
as vulgar Proletkult expressions of art-as-weaponry and others celebrate its courageous and eclectic combination of ferocity and wit. In any case, it was singular
in its capacity to be both an art and a political journal that drew readers and contributors from the upper echelons of the literary world as well as from the working
class it sought to venerate. Indeed, during the height of its influence, it became, as
its editor Joseph North noted, the conscience of the literary world at that time.
When New Masses appeared as a monthly in 1926, it retained much of the vitality and breadth of previous magazines on culture and politics, such as Liberator
and Masses, and was distinctive in its open engagement with the Communist Party
of the United States interpretations of art, literature, and politics. This association
has led some critics to underestimate the autonomy of the journals attempt to

N e x , M a r t i n A n d e r s e n

forge a proletarian literature authentic to the United States, though most agree that
New Masses published some of the most original, spirited, and committed creative
work of its era.
The role of non-Communist writers in New Masses is central to its uniqueness.
Under the editorship of Mike Gold, New Masses also solicited work from nonprofessional writers. In his appeal, Gold insisted, Your life in the mine, mill and farm
is of deathless significance in the history of the world. Through this effort and the
support of John Reed Clubs throughout the country, New Masses cultivated new
talent, including Richard Wright and Ben Field, while also publishing the work
of established figures like Sherwood Anderson, Howard Fast, and Ernest Hemingway. Though New Masses was frequently charged with placing politics before
aesthetics, its pages reveal charged debates about radical literature and calls for
greater dimension and diversity from its contributors.
The journal published the works of well-known authors more frequently after
becoming a weekly in 1934. The Popular Front organization League of American
Writers and the skilled editor Granville Hicks helped popularize it among increasingly radicalized literati. Such a range enabled New Masses to develop a distinctive
style of reportage of the labor and civic upheavals that marked domestic politics
and world events (with particular attention to the rise of Fascism). Contributions
from Erskine Caldwell, Meridel LeSueur, Dorothy Parker, and Agnes Smedley
convey its signature commitment to journalistic integrity and ardent realism. In
original illustrations and cartoons, Irene Goldberg, William Gropper, and Art
Young created striking interpretations of world events. The journal became an
arbiter of cultural production during this time, reaching a readership of 25,000 in
1935. Disillusionment and anti-Communism diminished New Masses popularity
throughout the 1940s, leading to the journals demise.
Rachel Peterson

Further Reading
Denning, Michael. The Cultural Front: The Laboring of American Culture in the Twentieth Century. New York: Verso 1996.
Foley, Barbara. Radical Representations: Politics and Form in U.S. Proletarian Fiction, 1929
1941. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1993.
Murphy, James F. The Proletarian Moment: The Controversy over Leftism in Literature. Urbana:
U of Illinois P, 1991.
North, Joseph. New Masses: An Anthology of the Rebel Thirties. New York: International Publishers, 1969.
Peck, David. The Tradition of American Revolutionary Literature: The Monthly New
Masses, 19261933. Science and Society 42 (Winter 19781979).

N e x , Ma r t i n A n d e r s e n ( 1 8 6 9 1 9 5 4 )
Martin Andersen Nex experienced both urban and rural poverty during his childhood, moving with his family from Copenhagen to the island of Bornholm. He




used his childhood fictionally in Pelle the Conqueror (Pelle Erobreren, 19061910),
the novel sequence that was his international breakthrough. It records Pelles harsh
life on a farm, his apprentice years as a shoemaker in a small town, and his rise as a
labor organizer in the capital of Denmark. A rousing Socialist bildungsroman, Pelle
was immensely popular. Previous to Nexs political self-discovery, he published
five introverted novels and collections of short stories that offer a grim view of
everyday life among the poor in Denmark; those stories are vivid in their unsentimental portrayal of the proletariat.
Pelle established Nex as a major voice on the Left. His novel sequence Ditte:
Child of Man (Ditte Menneskebarn, 19171921) tells the story of a young proletarian
girl who grows up in the countryside, then moves to the city where she experiences dire poverty, and eventually dies. The masses, who see her childa boy
accidentally killed while trying to fetch coals to heat their miserable apartment
as a victim of capitalist society, march in the streets as the novel concludes. Pelle
appears in this novel as a political hack. Nex felt that simple reform would not
do. Having witnessed the Russian Revolution, he hoped for a similar upheaval in
In Morten the Red (Morten hin rde, 19451957), Morten, who was a friend of
Pelle and Ditte, assumes center stage; as a Marxist, he rejects any compromises
with the moderate workers movement and despises Pelle. Nexs changing view of
Pelle demonstrates his own move toward the left. Unfortunately, this novel lacks
the narrative power and emotional zest of the former two, as does In an Age of Iron
(Midt in en Jrntid, 1929), in which Nex deals with the profiteering spirit during
World War I. Luckily, Nex decided to record his early years in four volumes of
memoirs (19321939), which recall the past with veneration, humor, and whimsy.
In addition, he composed some travel accounts, one volume of poetry, one drama,
and numerous political articles. Often criticized as an author who let his political
tendentiousness stand in the way of his artistic acumenperhaps true in Morten
Nexs social indignation was an immensely inspirational and powerful force in the
Pelle and Ditte narratives.
Faith Ingwersen and Niels Ingwersen

Further Reading
Ingwersen, Faith, and Niels Ingwersen. Quests for a Promised Land: The Works of Martin
Andersen Nex. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1984.
Slochower, Harry. Mythopoesis: Myth Patterns in Literary Classics. Detroit, MI: Wayne State
UP, 1973.

g I Wa T h i o n g o ( 1 9 3 8 )
Born in 1938 in Kamiriithu, Limuru, part of the Gikuyu homelanda rural area
outside of Nairobi, KenyaNgug is one of the 28 children of peasant and tenant
farmer Thiongo wa Nduucu, who had four wives, including Wanjiju wa Ngug,


Ngug mother. Despite his taking the name James Ngug in his childhood, his
family was not Christian but practiced traditional Gikuyu beliefs. Ngugs family
circumstanceslandlessness, polygamy, and religious difference from the
colonizersplunged him into a politically confrontational existence from birth.
As a child, he attended a missionary school, where students were punished for
speaking English, then a Gikuyu Independent school, dedicated to preserving the
Gikuyu language and cultural traditions. Many of the repeated themes of his writing stem from school-day experiences, especially his understanding that language
carries culture and his controversial decision at the end of 1977 that African writers
should write in African languages. The physical violence of colonialism hit home
when, in the mid-1950s, Ngugs deaf-and-dumb stepbrother was shot dead by British soldiers, an event the author re-creates in A Grain of Wheat (1967). Moreover,
his elder brother, a carpenter, became a member of the Land and Freedom Fighters
(called Mau Mau by the colonizers) and fought in the forest for two years during
Kenyas Emergency Period. From the prestigious Alliance High School, Ngug went
to Makerere University College in Kampala, Uganda, graduating with honors in
1964. It was during postgraduate work at the University of Leeds in England, studying with the Marxist scholar Arnold Kettle, that he began reading Karl Marx, as well
as the works of such Marxist thinkers as Vladimir Lenin and Frantz Fanonan
important intellectual and political influence that remains with him.
After becoming the first African member of the University of Nairobis English
department in 1967, he and other colleagues successfully replaced it with the
Department of Literature in 1968, also adding a new Department of Linguistics
and African Languages. He resigned his position in 1969 in protest against the university and governments violations of academic freedom and harsh punishment
against striking students. After teaching at Northwestern University in the United
States in 1970, he returned to Kenya an even more committed Socialist and used
his voice and pen against the corruption of the black bourgeoisie (who came to
power after Kenyan independence in 1963) and their foreign allies.
Returning to the University of Nairobi in 1973, Ngug became head of the
Department of Literature, becoming that institutions first African department head.
His novel Petals of Blood (1977) and play of the same year, Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will
Marry When I Want), commissioned by the Kamiriithu Community Educational
and Cultural Centre and written and produced in collaboration with villagers and
colleagues from the university, led to his arrest on New Years Eve and detention at
Kamiti Maximum Security Prison, allegedly for possessing 18 banned books. His
detention occasioned widespread local, regional, and international protests and
petitions for his release. Although never officially charged, he was held prisoner
for almost a year, during which he wrote (on toilet paper) the first modern novel
in Gikuyu, Caitaamo Muitharaba-ini (1980; Devil on the Cross, 1982), and parts of
his prison diary, Detained (1981).
After his release in December 1978, Ngug and his family received constant
death threats and official harassment, while in March 1982, the Kamiriithu cultural
center was razed by the government, all of which events Ngug discusses in his
essays. While in London for the publication of Devil on the Cross in 1982, Ngug




was warned that he would be arrested upon his return to Kenya and, therefore,
began his present life of exile. In 1986, he published his second novel written in
Gikuyu, Matigari, which draws on the legacy of the Mau Mau rebellion as a source
of oppositional energies in Kenya.
While away from his homeland, Ngug has continued his professional and artistic careers. However, he continues to suffer from the suspicion of the Kenyan government, which has accused him of leading a clandestine oppositional political
group and has continued to ban his books, removing them from school reading
lists. In response, to continue reaching young people, he has been writing a series
of childrens books, the first of which is Njamba Nene na Mbaathi I Malhagu (Njamba
Nene and the Flying Bus, 1986).
In 1992, he accepted the Erich Maria Remarque Chair of Comparative Literature at New York University in the United States and began editing Mutiiri, a literary and cultural journal in Gikuyu. Since July 2002, he has been Distinguished
Professor and first director of the International Center for Writing and Translation
at the University of California in Irvine and has completed a 1,200-page novel,
Murogi wa Kagogo (The Wizard of the Crow). Ngug has held academic positions
and been invited to speak at many distinguished institutions worldwide and has
received numerous awards, including the 1986 Fonlon-Nichols Prize and the 2001
Nonino International Prize.
Arlene (Amy) Elder
Further Reading
Gikandi, Simon. Ngugi wa Thiongo. New York: Cambridge UP, 2001.
Jeyifo, Biodun. Ngugi wa Thiongo. London: Pluto, 1990.
Killam, G. D. An Introduction to the Writings of Ngugi. London: Heinemann, 1980.
Ngug wa Thiongo. Barrel of a Pen: Resistance to Repression in Neo-Colonial Kenya. London:
Heinemann, 1983.
Ngug wa Thiongo. Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. London: James Currey, 1986.
Ngug wa Thiongo. Detained: A Prison Diary. London: Heinemann, 1981.
Ngug wa Thiongo. Moving the Centre: Struggle for Cultural Freedoms. London: James Currey, 1993.
Ngug wa Thiongo. Penpoints, Gunpoints and Dreams: Towards a Critical Theory of the Arts
and the State of Africa. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.
Sicherman, Carol. Ngugi wa Thiongo: The Making of a Rebel. London: Hans Zell, 1990.

O Ca s e y, S e a n ( 1 8 8 0 1 9 6 4 )
Irish playwright, born John Casey in Dublin. He adopted the name Sean OCathasaigh, finally calling himself Sean OCasey. His father died when he was six, causing financial hardship for the family. As a result, OCaseys schooling suffered (he
always claimed that he couldnt read until he was 16). He joined the Irish Citizen
Army in 1913, resigning in 1914. After writing plays for amateur productions,
he submitted plays to the Abbey Theatre, where he met Lady Gregory and W. B.
Yeats. His early efforts were rejected, but in 1922, the theater accepted The Shadow
of the Gunman, the first of three OCasey plays (crucial to his literary reputation)
the Abbey premiered, including Juno and the Paycock (1924) and The Plough and the
Stars (1926). The Plough and the Stars sparked nationalist riots but was vigorously
defended by Yeats. OCaseys loyalty was with the working class, and he was no
mere propagandist for Irish nationalism, which he saw as potentially inimical to
the interests of workers.
OCasey moved to England after the controversy over The Plough and the Stars.
In 1928, the Abbey rejected The Silver Tassie, leading to a bitter split between
OCasey and the theater. The play premiered the following year at the Apollo Theatre in London. Controversy constantly followed OCaseys work. Within the Gates,
which premiered in New York (1934), was banned in Boston in 1935. A selfprofessed Communist, OCasey became a member of the advisory board for the
Daily Worker in 1940although he never officially joined the Communist Party
and published The Star Turns Red that same year. The Green Crow (1956)a collection of essayswas seized by Irish customs in 1957 and unofficially banned. His
play The Drums of Father Ned (1957) was accepted by the Dublin Tostal Council for
their 1958 International Festival but was withdrawn after the archbishop of Dublin
objected to the play. As a result, OCasey banned the performance of all of his plays
in Ireland, a ban he eventually lifted in 1964.
OCaseys early plays were realistic portrayals of Dublin tenement life. His later
plays would move away from the realistic style in an effort to tackle, more symbolically, the two forceswhich, for OCasey, often merged into onethat oppressed
Ireland, namely capitalism and the Catholic Church. His anticlericalism, a constant
source of resentment in Ireland, stemmed from his belief that the church encouraged the working class to accept existing working conditions, blunting any desire
for real social change. OCasey published six volumes of autobiography, beginning
with I Knock at the Door (1939) and ending with Sunset and Evening Star (1954).
Steve Cloutier


Odets, Clifford

Further Reading
Hunt, Hugh. Sean OCasey. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1998.
Krause, David. Sean OCasey: The Man and His Work. New York: Macmillan, 1960.
Krause, David, and Robert G. Lowery, eds. Sean OCasey: Centenary Essays. Totowa, NJ:
Barnes and Noble, 1980.
McDonald, Ronan. Tragedy and Irish Literature: Synge, OCasey, Beckett. New York: Palgrave,
OConnor, Garry. Sean OCasey: A Life. New York: Atheneum, 1988.

O d e t s , Cl i f f o r d ( 1 9 0 6 1 9 6 3 )
Born in Philadelphia and raised in New York, Odets made an indelible mark on the
American dramatic landscape. His plays summed up the spirit of the Depression
era and gave dramatic resonance to its dilemmas of class struggle and political
upheaval. His career peaked in 1935, when four of his plays were produced on
Broadway: Awake and Sing! Till the Day I Die, Paradise Lost, and the archetypal piece
of agitprop, Waiting for Leftyhis best-known play.
Odets found his way to playwriting through acting. Working in small companies in New York and Philadelphia, Odets became interested in writing for radio
and completed two radio plays, Dawn and At the Waterline, between 1925 and
1927. In 1931, Odets joined the Group Theatre, where he came under the influence of John Howard Lawson, a successful Communist playwright who influenced
Odets to look for his material in the working-class experience and the ethnic Jewish American neighborhoods that he knew so well.
Odets succeeded in translating the vital street energy and household language
of the working class to the stage for the first time outside the Yiddish theater tradition. When Waiting for Lefty opened to tumultuous audience approval on January
5, 1935, the New York theater world woke up to learn that a new playwright of the
proletariat was blooming in their midst. Ending in a rousing call for strike and
filled with topical allusions to the labor struggles of the tabloids, the new drama
filled a political need and challenged old dramatic formulas. It not only seemed to
speak for an emerging and empowered American working class, but also launched
a new dramatic structure. Such playwrights as Eugene ONeill, Samuel Beckett,
Jack Gelber, Harold Pinter, and August Wilson would copy the dramatic situation
of characters waiting for something or someone that might or might not appear.
A handsome and vital man, Odets was lionized as a kind of embodiment of
the Socialist life force. In such plays as Golden Boy (1938), and Rocket to the Moon
(1938), he found riveting dramatic analogues for a powerful critique of the stifling
impact of capitalism and profit seeking on human potential. Odets sought inspiration in the dynamic Americanism of Walt Whitmans poetry, and he dramatized
that egalitarian promise for all citizens. Deploring elitism, Odets was drawn to the
mass media of the movies and went to Hollywood to pursue a career in film.
Golden Boy was made into a successful film in 1939. Working as a script doctor,
Odets anonymously improved many scripts, including Alfred Hitchcocks Notorious (1946). Some of his own best-known movie scripts are None But the Lonely

Ol s e n , T i ll i e

Heart (1944), Deadline at Dawn (1946), Humoresque (1947), and The Sweet Smell of
Success (1957). In his Hollywood years, he also completed two significant plays
The Big Knife (1948) and The Country Girl (1950)which were made into successful films in the 1950s.
Odets remained ambivalent about his own success in Hollywood, and his career
was further complicated when he appeared as a friendly witness before the House
Un-American Activities Committee in 1952. However, Odetss great achievement
remains unmarred by his later defection. What he dramatized in his work was the
impact of class struggle on the daily lives of Americans, and what he dared to show
on stage for the first time was the slangy, quirky idiom of working-class American speech and the unquenchable vitality and high democratic aspirations of the
American dreamers that populate all his plays.
Norma Jenckes
Further Reading
Benman-Gibson, Margaret. Clifford Odets, American Playwright. New York: Atheneum,
Weales, Gerald. Odets the Playwright. London: Methuen, 1985.

Ol s e n , T i ll i e ( c a . 1 9 1 2 2 0 0 7 )
The daughter of Russian immigrants who participated in the 1905 revolution and
later became Socialist Party members in the United States, fiction writer, poet,
literary critic, and theorist Tillie Olsen first published as a member of the Young
Communist League during the Great Depression. During the 1940s and 1950s,
Olsen was largely occupied with raising a family, working, and engaging in political activism and did not publish again until the late 1950s. In 1961 she published
Tell Me a Riddlea collection of short stories whose title novella won the First
Prize O. Henry Award, and whose stories are often anthologized. In 1978, Olsen
published a highly influential collection of Marxist-feminist literary critical and
theoretical writings entitled Silences.
In 1934 Olsen published Iron-Throat, her first story in the Partisan Review
then the literary magazine of the Communist Partyled New York John Reed Club.
The story instantly established her as one of the more talented proletarian writers
of the 1930s. It was drawn from a novel-in-progress entitled Yonnondio, which
she later published incomplete in 1974, and which is now considered a classic
of proletarian fiction Both Iron-Throat, whose title refers to a coal mine that
swallows miners lives, and the novel present powerful narratives that center on
an American migrant family, the Holbrooks, who move from city to farm in search
of nonexploitative work and stable family life. Olsens depiction registers the brutalizing effects of economic exploitation and patriarchal ideology on an American
working-class family. Yet it equally documents the irrepressible desire of working
people to resist their brutalization in a spontaneous manner. To compensate for the



O r w e ll , G e o r g e

historically specific lack of political education of her characters (the novel is set in
the 1920s and in the absence of a visible Left-led labor movement), Olsen weaves
throughout the text a Socialist authorial voice that places the Holbrooks lives in
perspective and imagines the day when a united working class could wipe out
capitalism and a human could be a human for the first time on earth (64).
Tell Me a Riddle is Olsens second major work to depict working-class people in
the grips of the repressive social and economic forces of capitalism. Olsen sets the
stories in the mid-century United States, specifically in suburban locales ringed
by Cold War conformity and nuclear fears. Many of her characters, and several
who traverse the stories, earlier participated in revolutionary struggles in either
pre-Soviet Russia or Depression-era United States and now find themselves living
in tension with the present and feeling politically isolated. The stories movingly
address both the loss of and desire for mass movements of progressive change, and
for that joyous certainty, that sense of mattering, of moving and being moved, of being
one and indivisible with the great of the past, with all that freed, ennobled (Tell Me a
Riddle, 113). Like Yonnondio, Tell Me a Riddle is particularly sensitive to the lives
of working-class women and mothers who struggle with the weight of household
labor, child rearing, and sometimes wage labor, and who want so much more out
of lifeand not only for themselves.
Olsens last major work, Silences, helped establish her as a foremost contemporary Marxist and feminist literary critic and theorist. As the title suggests, Olsen is
mainly concerned with the silences of writers and of literary history itself due to
unfavorable social circumstances that confront working-class and female writers.
The book encapsulates her lifelong commitment of giving voice to the voiceless
and of making visible what she called the not yet in the nowglimmers of the
human capacity for creating a world based on egalitarianism and compassion.
Anthony Dawahare
Further Reading
Coiner, Constance. Better Red: The Writing and Resistance of Tillie Olsen and Meridel LeSueur.
New York: Oxford UP, 1995.
Dawahare, Anthony. That Joyous Certainty: History and Utopia in Tillie Olsens
Depression-Era Literature. Twentieth Century Literature 44.3 (Fall 1998): 26175.
Rosenfelt, Deborah. From the Thirties: Tillie Olsen and the Radical Tradition. Feminist
Studies 7 (Fall 1981): 371406.
Staub, Michael E. Voices of Persuasion: Politics of Representation in 1930s America. New York:
Cambridge UP, 1994.

O r w e ll , G e o r g e ( 1 9 0 3 1 9 5 0 )
In his 1946 essay Why I Write, George Orwell reflected, What I have most
wanted to do throughout the past ten years is to make political writing into an
art. In that same essay, he also noted, Every line of serious work that I have
written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism
and for democratic Socialism, as I understand it. These two statements define

O r w e ll , G e o r g e

his importance for British working-class and Socialist literature and 20th-century
English literature more generally. Most famous for his last, immensely influential
worksthe satire Animal Farm (1945) and dystopia Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949),
which made him the darling of the new, anti-Soviet Cold WarriorsOrwell is
remembered most fondly by leftists for his 1930s documentaries of working-class
life and his protest novels. He is also celebrated for his delightful essays on popular culture, including Boys Weeklies, Good Bad Books, and Raffles and Miss
Blandish, which form early contributions to cultural studies.
Orwell was born (as Eric Arthur Blair) in Motihari, India, into an Anglo-Indian
family with ties to the Far East that extended several generations. He grew up with
his mother and two sisters in what he famously described as a lower upper middle
class household. His father, a minor official in the Opium Department, remained for
seven years in India while the rest of the family lived in the charming English town
of Henley-on-Thames. At age eight, Orwell was sent on scholarship to St. Cyprians
School, where he was successfully crammed for a scholarship to Eton, but was so
traumatized by the experience that his memoir of his prep-school days, Such, Such
Were the Joys (1953), could only be published after his death due to fears of libel.
Orwells years at Eton were unexceptional, politically and academically, and at
their end, he chose to go into the Indian Imperial Police. At age 19, he arrived in
Mandalay and then Mulmein, Burma, where the routine work of upholding the
machinery of despotism transformed him into a fierce opponent of British colonialism. He retired from the service after five years, much to the dismay of his family, and
began the series of domestic adventures that led to the publication of his first major
work, Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), a documentary of his journeys
into the underworlds of Parisian slums and English lodging houses. Burmese Days
(1934), a bitter satire of British imperialism, followed quickly. In 1936, the editors
of the Left Book Club commissioned Orwell to write an account of unemployment
in the distressed areas of the industrial North. The result was The Road to Wigan Pier
(1937), half powerful documentary of the working and living conditions of Wigans
miners, half blistering critique of Socialism and the cranks that supported it. Before
leftists had time to digest Orwells diatribe in Wigan Pier against English Socialists,
Orwell had left England to fight Fascists in the Spanish Civil War. Exhilarated
by the egalitarian society that greeted him in Barcelona, where his equally committed wife, Eileen OShaughnessy, joined him, he fought bravely on the Aragon
front, leading a group of Partido Obrero de Unificacin Marxista anarchists until being
shot through the throat. He heroically returned to service only to find that all the
members of his division were in danger of capture, torture, and execution by their
one-time allies, the Communists. His book Homage to Catalonia (1938) is a piercing,
partisan account of what Orwell experienced as a Soviet betrayal of the anarchists
and republicans in Spain.
His novels of the late 1930s, Keep the Aspidistra Flying (1936) and Coming Up for
Air (1939), are humorous, somewhat despairing protests against capitalist development in England. Although Orwell still called himself a Socialist, only at the
extraordinary moment of national unity inspired by Dunkirk could he bring himself to advocate radical political change, arguing in The Lion and the Unicorn (1941)
that war would facilitate a Socialist bloodless revolution.



O s t r o v s k y, N i k o l a i

Rejected from military service because of the lung disease that would eventually
kill him, Orwell spent the years of World War II in London, working as a talks
producer for the BBC. He resigned from that job, frustrated with censorship originating with the Ministry of Information, and plunged into journalism full time. His
regular London Letter to the American Partisan Review extended his influence, as
did his As I Please columns for the leftist weekly Tribune, for which he worked as
literary editor. During these same years, he crafted Animal Farm, though publication was delayed because he could not find a sympathetic editor. It was eventually
published in 1945 by the leftist Frederick Warburg, who anticipated that the book
would be interpreted as an attack on Socialists everywhere, but understood the
power of the fable and the necessity of its publication.
Animal Farm became an international sensation, and financed Orwells retreat to
the Hebrides island he had often fantasized about. Now a widower, Orwell wrote
most of his last, most famous book, Nineteen Eighty-Four, on Jura, amid conditions
that some of his friends considered suicidal. Published by Warburg in 1949, it made
Orwell wealthy. Yet wealth came too late, since Orwells failing lungs required him to
exchange his remote island for a bed in London University Hospital. There Orwell
suffered uncomplainingly, his life enlivened only by visits from friends and his courtship of Sonia Brownell, whom he married three months before he died.
Orwells legacy is, from the perspective of English Socialists, a mixed one; intellectuals on the right and left have tried to lay claim to his reputation as Englands
and Americas most honest, decent, plain-speaking political writer, creating in
the process an Orwell myth that continues to serve politicians as much as it frustrates literary critics and historians. Undisputed is Orwells extraordinary impact
on postwar Anglo-American political and popular culture through sales of his last
two novels, which have sold more copies worldwide than any other pair of books
by any other literary or popular postwar author.
Kristin Bluemel
Further Reading
Crick, Bernard. George Orwell: A Life. Boston: Little, Brown, 1980.
Norris, Christopher, ed. Inside the Myth: Orwell, Views from the Left. London: Lawrence and
Wishart, 1984.
Patai, Daphne. The Orwell Mystique: A Study in Male Ideology. Amherst: U of Massachusetts
P, 1984.
Rodden, John. The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of St. George
Orwell. New York: Oxford UP, 1989.

O s t r o v s k y, N i k o la i ( 1 9 0 4 1 9 3 6 )
Nikolai Ostrovsky was an icon of the Socialist literary establishment both in the
Soviet Union and in other Socialist countries. To many growing up in a Socialist
country, his life and his only completed novelKak zakalals Stal (How the Steel Was
Tempered, 19321934)were symbols of the struggles, hardships, and sacrifice

O w e n , W i l f r e d

people in the Soviet Union had to endure in order to create a Socialist society
where workers could have decent lives. The largely autobiographical How the Steel
Was Tempered is one of the best examples of Socialist realism. Ostrovskys second
novel, Rozhdennye burei (Born of the Storm, begun in 1936), was left unfinished.
Ostrovsky was born in western Ukraine in a family of laborers. His formal education ended at age 12, when he was expelled from elementary school by his scriptures teacher. From 1915 to 1919, he worked at various manual jobs, as an assistant
stoker, a kitchen aid, a timber-yard worker, an assistant electrician, and so on. During the Russian Revolution, he was a courier for the local Bolshevik underground.
In 1919, he joined the Komsomol and volunteered for the Red Army, where he
served in the famous Kotovsky cavalry brigade. He was twice badly wounded and
eventually demobilized on medical grounds. In 1921, he went to work in a railroad
workshop in Kiev and focused on political work among the workers.
In 1922, while participating in railroad construction crucial for the region, he
contracted typhus and rheumatism. Upon recovery, he was declared an invalid and
was unable to do any manual labor. He was then appointed commissar of the Red
Armys Battalion Berezdov and was sent to the border region to work on political
propaganda. He joined the Communist Party in 1924. As his health continued to
deteriorate, he was sent to a sanatorium in Crimea. From then on, Ostrovsky spent
much of his life in hospitals and sanatoriums. In 1926, after a serious attack of
polyarthritis, he became almost completely paralyzed; in 1929, his illness affected
his vision and he went blind.
Despite such serious health problems, Ostrovsky always remained determined
to be a productive member of Soviet society. He put all his energies into political
work: he lead Marxist discussion circles, educated young party members, contributed to newspapers and journals, and spoke on the radio. In 1929, he finished
a correspondence course at the Sverdlov Communist University in Moscow and
began working on How the Steel Was Tempered, which became one of the most popular Soviet novels of all time. In 1934, he became a member of the Union of Soviet
Writers. That same year, he was awarded the Order of Lenin. He was 32 when he
died in 1936.
Dubravka Juraga
Further Reading
Luker, Nicholas. From Furmanov to Sholokhov. Ann Arbor, MI: Ardis, 1988.
Sovetskii Entsiklopediiski Slovar. Moscow: Sovetskaia Entsiklopedia, 1989.

Owen, Wilfred (18931918)

Born in the remote country town of Shrewsbury, England, and raised within a
devout Evangelical family, Owen ultimately became one of the best-known and
best-loved poets of World War I. In October 1915, he enlisted with the Artists
Rifles, but quickly lost faith in the war cause; after months of continual shelling
and then experiencing a nervous breakdown, he began to compose highly critical



Owen, Wilfred

poems of the war and its effects on the human spirit. Written primarily over a
period of 14 months, while Owen recuperated at the Craiglockheart War Hospital
in Edinburgh, his poetry is notable for its hallucinatory depictions of trench life
and man-to-man combat; it combines horrific details of the experience of battle
with a lyrical expressionism and a mastery of poetic devices (alliteration, assonance, half-rhyme, and pararhyme).
Owens early life was defined by a series of influences and infatuations that,
taken together, perhaps explain his initial attraction to war as well as his success
as a war poet. First, his domineering mother preached the sins of the flesh and the
need for painful acts of purification. As a teenager, Owen discovered the romantic
poets and replaced the idea of a suffering Christ with the image of the suffering artist. Finally, from October 1911 to February 1913, Owen worked as a lay assistant
to a local vicar, and his duties included visits to the sick and poor. His letters outline a growing infatuation with these figures, an odd blend of pity and fascination
with the scarred and maimed lads of the countryside. Throughout, Owens youth
was also shaped by a strong if inchoate homoeroticism. His rather guilty desire
was at once encouraged and sustained by a semiliterary cult of suffering and thus
readily provided the terms for his intense poetic descriptions of masculine combat.
Owens complex youth also inspired a budding if vague feeling toward Socialism. His political sentiments tended toward the humanistic and the fraternal,
an almost simple outrage against hypocrisy, inequality, and oppression. Mostly,
though, his politics were shaped by a strong fascination with suffering and a persistently erotic attention to the wounded male body. Ultimately, his best poetry is
at once condemnatory and fascinated, attuned to both the horror and the thrill of
war. Often, it dwells on hauntingly romantic images of blinded eyes, torn limbs,
and dead mouths; he writes best about young lads charged by battle and the lifeless, beautiful corpses strewn across the battlefield.
Owen died only a week before the armistice and remained unknown as a poet
until Siegfried Sassoon published a volume of his verse in 1920. Since then, he
has held a firm place in the British literary canon as a poet of originality, social
commitment, and national pride.
Ed Comentale
Further Reading
Caesar, Adrian Caesar. Taking It Like a Man: Suffering, Sexuality and the War Poets. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1993.
Fussell, Paul. The Great War and Modern Memory. New York: Oxford UP, 1975.
Hibberd, Dominic. Owen the Poet. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1986.
Owen, Harold. Journey from Obscurity: Memoirs of the Owen Family. Vol. 1. London: Oxford
UP, 1963.
Owen, Wilfred. Collected Letters. Ed. Harold Owen and John Bell. London: Oxford UP,

P lat o n o v, A n d r e i ( 1 8 9 9 1 9 5 1 )
Born Andrei Klimentev, the son of a railway worker from the provincial Russian
city of Voronezh, Platonov began writing in earnest about the time of the October
1917 Russian Revolution and was one of the few genuinely proletarian writers in
the early years of the Soviet regime. In the 1920s, he wrote a series of journalistic
pieces and short stories expressing the fervent hope that the Bolshevik Revolution
would transform not just Russian society but physical existence as well, an aim he
had absorbed from the proletarian cultural movement led by Aleksandr Bogdanov.
This utopian combination of existential and political concernsin essence, the
longing to see the Soviet experiment transform what Platonov regarded as humanitys dire existential circumstancesremained a hallmark of his writing throughout
his career. From the late 1920s on, however, his ambivalence toward the construction of socialism deepened, and his works developed a satirical edge that considerably damaged his relations with the institutions of literary officialdom established
under Stalin in the 1930s. His novel Chevengur (late 1920s, published in full only
in 1988) depicts the eccentric activities of a motley group of figures who attempt to
create Communism overnight in an isolated steppe town, only to watch their experiment disintegrate and fall prey to marauding Cossacks. The Foundation Pit (Kotlovan,
19291930, but published in Russia only in 1987) portrays an even more lurid
series of events attending plans to construct a gigantic housing project for the proletariat, which yields only an enormous foundation pit. Chevengur and Kotlovan are
especially notable for their strange but eerily effective deformations of the Russian
language, in particular of the political slogans ubiquitous in the Stalin era.
The 1931 publication of a work entitled For Future Use: A Poor Peasants Chronicle
(Vprok: Bedniatskaia khronika), a satirical account of collectivization in the Russian
countryside, had disastrous consequences for Platonov. Subjected to vicious attack
in the central press, he found it impossible to publish anything for more than two
years. When sporadically allowed back into print, he had to mute his earlier tendencies toward satire and verbal experimentation. In the mid-thirties, he worked
on a novel entitled Happy Moscow (Schastlivaia Moskva), an ambivalent attempt at
the genre of Socialist realism that persisted in indulging the somber existential
themes typical of Platonovs earlier works. Platonov served as a correspondent for
the Soviet army newspaper during World War II. Ill with tuberculosis throughout
the later 1940s, he died on January 5, 1951. In addition to journalism, stories, and
two novels, he wrote several plays, poetry, and literary criticism.
Thomas Seifrid


Popular Front

Further Reading
Borenstein, Eliot. Men without Women: Masculinity and Revolution in Russian Fiction, 1917
1929. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2000.
Brodsky, Joseph. Catastrophes in the Air. Less Than One: Selected Essays. New York: Farrar,
Straus and Giroux, 1986.
Naiman, Eric. Andrej Platonov and the Inadmissibility of Desire. Russian Literature 23
(1988): 31966.
Seifrid, Thomas. Andrei Platonov: Uncertainties of Spirit. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992.

P o p u la r F r o n t
As the expansionist designs of the Fascist governments in Germany and Italy
became clear in the 1930s, many on the left became convinced that the most
urgent political problem of the day was resisting Fascist aggression rather than
working for the immediate overthrow of capitalism. By 1935, the Third International, at its congress in Moscow, adopted the official policy of supporting the
formation of worldwide popular front organizations, in which various Communist
parties would work to form alliances with other radical and liberal groups with the
common aim of opposing Fascism. This strategy, which made official a policy that
many leftist groups had been pursuing since Adolf Hitler began his rise to power in
Germany in 1932, had a variety of consequences in a variety of places. In France,
for example, the Popular Front functioned as an actual political party that went
on to win the national elections of 1936, giving France a Socialist prime minister,
Lon Blum (who had begun his career as a literary critic). In Britain, the Popular
Front largely took the form of uneasy cooperation between the Communist Party
of Great Britain and the Labour Party.
The Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA) had no major political party
with which it could directly align itself during the Popular Front (initially referred
to as the Peoples Front in the United States), though the CPUSA dropped its sometimes bitter criticism of the Roosevelt government and instead adopted a conciliatory attitude of supporting the New Deal against its conservative opponents. Initially,
rather than attempting any sort of direct alliance with Roosevelts Democratic Party,
the CPUSA pursued the organization of a Farmer-Labor Party that would help to
bring Communist ideas into the American electoral mainstream. The organization
of the Farmer-Labor Party was abandoned in 1938 when it became clear that the
new party would be unable to play a major role in U.S. politics. Still, the actual
activities of the CPUSA continued to move toward electoral politics and away from
street demonstrations and militant labor actions, just as its rhetoric shifted from one
of revolution to one of American patriotism. Meanwhile, the party came more and
more to support what it saw as the essentially progressive and anti-Fascist nature of
the Roosevelt administration in a policy shift that was signaled by a change in designation of the movement from the Peoples Front to the Democratic Front.
The CPUSA gained considerably in membership and respectability during the
Popular Front period, though the policy of conciliation and compromise also
meant a diminution of some of the partys more admirable positions. By 1935,

Popular Front

the CPUSA had already embarked on a policy of forming alliances with labor and
liberal organizations in the interests of causes such as anti-Fascism and opposition
to discrimination on the basis of gender and race. These policies can be considered
the forerunners of the Popular Front, though the central emphasis on opposition
to Fascism in the Popular Front era caused the CPUSA to veer away from its formerly militant opposition to social problems such as racism in the United States,
thus alienating many African Americans who had seen the CPUSA as the political
organization most dedicated to defending their rights.
Meanwhile, the Popular Front policy had a powerful effect on the production
of leftist and proletarian literature, the themes of which shifted away from support
for the revolutionary overthrow of capitalism toward anti-Fascism and support
for general social justice. In the United States, for example, the John Reed Clubs
that had worked to promote the development of revolutionary literature were all
but disbanded by the end of 1935, while leading Communist cultural journals
such as New Masses shifted their editorial policies away from emphasis on revolutionary proletarian literature written by worker-writers toward coverage of more
mainstream literature and a more general emphasis on freedom and anti-Fascism
as literary themes.
The Popular Front organizations in major Western democracies such as France,
Great Britain, and the United States ultimately had a certain amount of success in
mobilizing progressive forces against Fascism, though none of them were successful in what was initially a major aim of the strategyconvincing their nations to
provide support to the beleaguered Spanish republican government during the
Spanish Civil War. Still, while some of the compromises made by the Communist Party during the Popular Front period were highly problematic, the Front has
a largely positive legacy worldwide. Thus, any number of liberation movements
have adopted Popular Front strategies, or even the name Popular Front (such as
the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine), to indicate their participation in
a legacy of broad-based opposition to tyranny and oppression.
M. Keith Booker
Further Reading
Blaazer, David. The Popular Front and the Progressive Tradition: Socialists, Liberals, and the
Quest for Unity, 18841939. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1992.
Graham, Helen, and Paul Preston, eds. The Popular Front in Europe. New York: St. Martins,
Jackson, Julian. The Popular Front in France: Defending Democracy, 193438. Cambridge:
Cambridge UP, 1988.
McKenzie, Kermit E. Comintern and World Revolution, 19281943. New York: Columbia UP,
Ottaneli, Fraser M. The Communist Party of the United States: From the Depression to World
War. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP, 1991.
Pells, Richard H. Radical Vision and American Dreams: Culture and Social Thought in the
Depression Years. New York: Harper and Row, 1973.



P o s t c o l o n i a l L i t e r at u r e

P o s t c o l o n i al L i t e r at u r e
Postcolonial literature refers collectively to the literature produced by writers from
nations that were formerly the colonies of European imperial powers. This loose
definition encompasses a wide variety of cultures and societies. In the most literal
sense, postcolonial literature includes the literature of nations such as Australia, Canada, and even the United States, all of which were formerly British colonies. Indeed,
American writers in the 19th century, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, often expressed
a conscious desire to contribute to the development of a new postcolonial cultural
identity that would move beyond the legacy of the British-dominated past. Thus, one
of the pioneering studies of postcolonial literatureThe Empire Writes Back (1989),
by Bill Ashcroft, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffinargues that in many ways the
American experience and its attempts to produce a new kind of literature can be
seen as the model for all later post-colonial writing (16). That volume also pays
substantial attention to Canadian and Australian literature. However, such cases of
postcolonial nations dominated by settlers from Europe after the indigenous peoples
have been largely exterminated or displaced clearly represent a different situation
than that which prevails in Africa or Asia, where the nations emerging after independence are still dominated by indigenous peoples, and where indigenous cultures
make a far more important contribution to the postcolonial cultural identities than
in nations formed from settler colonies. Latin American literature represents a sort
of middle case. When Latin American nations emerged (generally in the 19th century) from colonization by Spain and Portugal, the descendants of Spanish and Portuguese settlers continued to play crucial roles, while indigenous cultures typically
remained strong influences as well. Ireland, meanwhile, represents another case of a
postcolonial society, one that is dominated by the descendants of people who lived
there before colonization, but one in which the indigenous people are themselves
Europeans. Finally, Caribbean literature represents another special situation. Here,
the indigenous peoples were essentially exterminated, but the postcolonial societies
and cultures tend to be dominated by the descendants not of European settlers but
of African slaves (and sometimes East Indian indentured workers), brought to the
region to provide labor for sugar plantations and other European colonial enterprises.
As it is most typically used, the term postcolonial literature tends to apply
to the literature produced by writers from nations that achieved independence
from European rule in the major wave of decolonization that occurred after World
War II, a designation that would apply primarily to African, Caribbean, and certain Asian literatures. The latter have tended to receive less attention as objects
of academic study in the West, partly because they are primarily written in Asian
languages, while African and Caribbean literature are dominated by works written
in English or French, the two dominant colonial languages.
On the other hand, Indian and South Asian literature have received much
attention as well, especially because the Indian-born Salman Rushdie (writing
in English) produced what is perhaps the most controversial political novel of the
last half century in The Satanic Verses (1988), which triggered a violent reaction
from Islamic fundamentalists because of its supposedly blasphemous treatment of
the prophet Muhammad. It is, however, for his Booker Prizewinning Midnights

P o s t c o l o n i a l L i t e r at u r e

Children (1981) that Rushdie has exerted the most important influence on postcolonial Indian literature, inspiring an entire generation of Anglophone writers
who have collectively come to be known as Rushdies children, including such
varied writers as Vikram Seth, Rohinton Mistry, Nayantara Shagal, Shashi Tharoor,
Allan Sealy, Farrukh Dhondy, Amitav Ghosh, Bapsy Sidhwa, Shashi Deshpande,
and Arundhati Roy (herself a Booker Prize winner).
In the case of the Caribbean, the use of European languages (including Spanish)
in the production of literature is a necessity due to the fact that the indigenous
populations have essentially been exterminated, so there are no indigenous languages that represent viable choices for writers from the Caribbean. In addition,
the colonization of the Caribbean began at the end of the 15th century, and the
British, French, and Spanish colonies there remained under European rule for
nearly 500 years. As a result, the colonies of the Caribbean were dominated more
thoroughly by European cultural paradigms than were the African colonies, even
as African culture itself continued to play an important role in the region, despite
efforts of Caribbean slaveholders to prevent the continuation of African cultural
practices there. The East Indian culture of indentured workers brought in to supplant slave labor after the abolition of slavery in the early 19th century brought in
still more cultural influences.
The postcolonial culture of the Caribbean consists of a rich mixture of imported
European, African, and East Indian cultural traditions. East Indian culture, itself
extremely diverse, remains obviously marginal to the culture of the Caribbean,
while white Europeans constitute such a small percentage of the total population
that European culture is not fully hegemonic in the region, despite the long history
of political and economic domination of the Caribbean by Europe. As a result of
this complex heritage, the crucial project of constructing viable postcolonial cultural identities is particularly complex in the Caribbean.
The early evolution of Caribbean literature (Francophone) was crucially influenced by the anticolonial politics of the negritude movement, with works such as
Aim Csaires 1939 poem Cahier dun retour au pays natal (Notebook of a Return to
My Native Land) exerting a strong formative influence. Novelists such as Edouard
Glissant and Jacques Roumain, meanwhile, have written from a particularly radical
leftist perspective, often giving Francophone Caribbean literature a much more
political tone than its Anglophone counterpart.
Anglophone Caribbean literature has produced radical poets such as Martin
Carter and Edward Kamau Brathwaite, while the less radical but still sometimes
politically conscious St. Lucian Derek Walcott reached international prominence
as a poet and dramatist when he was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in
1992. The Anglophone Caribbean novel dates back to the first years of the 20th
century, making it in some ways the forerunner of modern postcolonial literature. On the other hand, the first Caribbean novels, pioneered by the Jamaican
Thomas Henry MacDermot (publishing under the anagrammatic pen name Tom
Redcam), largely attempted to mimic British novels, but with a Caribbean setting.
Claude McKays participation in the Harlem Renaissance led to the publication of three novelsHome to Harlem (1928), Banjo (1929), and Banana Bottom



P o s t c o l o n i a l L i t e r at u r e

(1933)which can to an extent be regarded as the founding texts of the black

Caribbean novel. However, black literature in the Caribbeanand Caribbean literature as a whole in the sense of being a distinct literary phenomenoncame of
age in the 1930s, when economic pressures brought about by the global collapse
of capitalist economies in the Great Depression triggered a variety of radical activities in the Caribbean. The most important of these was the growth of a militant
trade-union movement throughout the British Caribbean, but this movement was
part of a larger growth in awareness that, among other things, greatly spurred the
development of a Caribbean culture that began to challenge, rather than emulate,
the British (and European) literary tradition. Crucial to this phenomenon was the
so-called Beacon Group in Trinidad, whose members were associated with Beacon
magazine, published in Port of Spain from 1931 to 1934. Three of these members,
Alfred Mendes, C. L. R. James, and Ralph De Boissire, would go on to become
important Caribbean novelists, though James would ultimately be far more important as an editor, activist, historian, cultural critic, and political theorist than as a
The ongoing development of Caribbean literature was slowed by the onset of
World War II, though the years following the end of the war saw a second renaissance in Caribbean literature, inspired to some extent by the widespread recognition that Britains European colonies were rapidly moving toward independence
V. S. Reids New Day (1949) can be considered the founding text in this emergent
movement. Important for both its casting of Jamaican history as a gradual movement toward inevitable self-rule for Jamaica and its deft use of Jamaican dialect
in its narrative voice, Reids novel would inspire any number of later writers who
would draw on both Caribbean history and the rhythms of Caribbean language in
their work. Reid continued his interest in the history of anticolonial resistance with
the publication of The Leopard (1958)a historical novel set in colonial Kenya,
focusing on the Mau Mau rebellion of the early 1950s.
The most important Anglophone Caribbean writers to emerge in the 1950s were
three young men who immigrated to England at the beginning of the decade:
Sam Selvon and V. S. Naipaul of Trinidad and George Lamming of Barbados.
Lamming has remained one of the most important Caribbean novelists since the
1953 publication of In the Castle of My Skin, his first novel, while the Nobel Prize
winning Naipaul is probably the best-known Anglophone Caribbean writer on an
international scale. Selvons first novel, A Brighter Sun (1952), became one of the
founding texts of the Caribbean literary renaissance of the 1950s and helped to
establish trends that would be important in Caribbean literature for years to come.
The book makes important use of Trinidadian dialect, especially in the dialogue
of the characters, thus helping both to enhance the verisimilitude of the book and
to challenge the hegemony of Standard English as a literary language. The novel
shows an intense awareness of social and political issues, framing the story of the
protagonist within the context of the story of the multicultural society of colonial
Trinidad. Selvon quickly followed with other novels set in Trinidad, including An
Island Is a World (1955) and Turn again Tiger (1958), a direct sequel to A Brighter
Sun. He also began to publish novels about the expatriate West Indian community

P o s t c o l o n i a l L i t e r at u r e

in London, including The Lonely Londoners (1956) and The Housing Lark (1965).
Among Selvons most important works are a pair of sequels to The Lonely Londoners, Moses Ascending (1975) and Moses Migrating (1983).
The charged political climate of the years immediately before and after independence can be seen in the appearance of novels such as Frank Herculess anticolonial Where the Hummingbird Flies (Trinidad, 1961) and Ismith Khans The Jumbie
Bird (Trinidad, 1961), which explores the confused cultural identity of Trinidad
as it moves toward independence. Also notable is Khans The Obeah Man (1964),
a powerful political novel that presents the futility of life in postcolonial Trinidad
as a direct consequence of the legacy of colonialism. Namba Roys Black Albino
(1961) draws on the legacy of Jamaicas fugitive communities of escaped slaves, or
Maroons, in an attempt to help develop a positive historical base for new Jamaican
identities, while the protagonist of Denis Williamss Other Leopards (Guyana, 1963)
goes from Guyana to Africa in search of his cultural roots. Williamss exploration of
cultural and historical links between Africa and the Caribbean is also central to the
life and work of the Jamaican novelist and poet Neville Dawes, who spent extensive periods in Ghana, where he was a supporter of Kwame Nkrumah, the first
president of the postcolonial state there. Dawess two novels, The Last Enchantment
(1960) and Interim (1978), are interesting for their exploration of Jamaican politics
before and after independence.
One of the most important Caribbean novelists to begin his publishing career
in the postcolonial era was Trinidads Earl Lovelaceespecially for the novels The
Wine of Astonishment (1982) and Salt (1996), which won the Commonwealth Writers Prize and is particularly strong in its exploration of political conflicts between
Trinidads East Indian and African populations. Other major postcolonial writers
in English include Jamaicas Orlando Patterson and Michael Thelwell, Trinidads
Michael Anthony, Barbadoss Austin Clarke, and St. Lucias Garth St. Omer.
Trinidads Merle Hodge can be seen as the first of a new generation of Caribbean women writers who built on the work of forerunners such as Jean Rhys and
Paule Marshall to initiate a new era in Caribbean womens literature in the 1970s
and (especially) the 1980s. Indeed, Hodges Crick Crack, Monkey (1970) in some
ways marked the coming of age of the Caribbean womens novel. A bildungsroman
based partly on Hodges own childhood experience, this novel also, in a sense,
narrates the coming of age of Trinidad and Tobago as an independent nation.
The 1980s saw a veritable explosion in production by a new generation of highly
skilled, professional Caribbean women novelists with the work of writers such as
Erna Brodber, Michelle Cliff, Belizes Zee Edgell, and Grenadas Merle Collins.
Though Caribbean literature, in both the Anglophone and Francophone contexts, to an extent led the way for African literature, African literature has received
more attention in postcolonial theory and criticism. Still, partly because of the
influence of the negritude movement and also because of the important theoretical influence of Frantz Fanon, Francophone Caribbean literature has exerted an
important influence on modern Francophone African literature. Indeed, Ren
Marans Batouala (1921) is sometimes considered the first Francophone African
novel, though Maran, like Fanon, was originally from the French colonial island



P o s t c o l o n i a l L i t e r at u r e

of Martinique in the Caribbean. Marans distinctive combination of literary techniques derived from the European tradition (such as French symbolism) with
important elements of African oral storytelling traditions to produce a vivid depiction of conditions in French colonial Africa would set the tone for many African
novels to come, in both French and English.
Several other African novels in French (by Maran and others) were published
in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s, though many critics consider Camara Layes
The Dark Child (LEnfant noir, 1953)substantially influenced by the negritude
movementto mark the beginning of the modern African novel in French. This
work owes relatively little to negritude in a stylistic sense, but its idealized portrayal
of conditions in a traditional Malink society untouched by colonial contamination
clearly owes something to the influence of the movement. Subsequent Francophone writers would continue Layes elaboration of an African cultural identity,
but in more explicitly anticolonial and politically engaged ways. For example, the
Cameroonian Mongo Beti employed humor and satire to excoriate colonialism
(especially as purveyed through Catholic missions) and to contribute to the development of a sense of African identity. In novels such as The Poor Christ of Bomba
(Le Pauvre Christ de Bomba, 1956) and Mission to Kala (Mission termine, 1957), Beti
provided important early examples of the Francophone satirical novel. Another
important early satirist was the Cameroonian Ferdinand Oyono, whose The Old
Man and the Medal (Le Vieux Ngre et la mdaille, 1956) satirizes French colonialism through the eyes of an old Cameroonian man who has long been loyal to his
French masters but then comes to question his earlier attitudes. Oyonos Houseboy
(Une Vie de boy, 1960) is striking for its depiction of the reaction of colonized Africans to the behavior of their French colonizers as bizarre, nonsensical, and even
obscene, thus effectively reversing a number of European stereotypes about Africa.
Beginning with the Senegalese Nafissatou Diallos A Dakar Childhood (De Tilne au
plateau: Une enfance dakaroise, 1975), works by women have been extremely important in the development of the African Francophone novel. In addition to Diallo,
prominent Francophone women writers include Ken Bugul of Senegal, Gabriel
Ilunga-Kabalu of Zaire, and Werewere Liking of Cameroon, the latter of whom exemplifies a movement from the mid-1970s onward to sophisticated feminist explorations of topics, such as the social construction of gender. Particularly important
in a political sense is the work of the Senegalese Aminata Sow Fall, whose intensely
engaged political novels combine a feminine perspective with a class-based call for
the liberation of Africas poor and oppressed from economic and political tyranny.
Only one of Sow Falls novels has been translated into English, though she has been
extremely influential in Africa. Sow Falls first novel, The Ghost (Le Revenant, 1977)
details the experiences of a young man who has just been released from prison,
only to find that social conditions in postcolonial Africa constitute a larger kind
of prison. Sow Falls best-known novel (and the only one in English translation)
is The Beggars Strike (La Grve des battu, 1979), which focuses (like much Western
proletarian literature) on the motif of a strike to comment on social inequities and
the exploitation of workers by unscrupulous bosses. In The Call of the Arena (Lppel
des arne, 1982), Former Father of the Nation (Ex-pre de la nation, 1987), and The

P o s t c o l o n i a l L i t e r at u r e

Patriarchs Jujube Tree (Le Jujubier du patriarche, 1993), Sow Fall continues this mode
of intense political commitment and detailed, realistic representation of the social
conditions that inform the lives of Africas poor and downtrodden.
However, by far the most important Francophone African political novelist is
clearly the Senegalese Ousmane Sembne, who is also an important pioneer of
African cinema. Stylistically, Sembnes fiction derives directly from the tradition
of European realism, though Sembne has declared a close relationship between
his work and traditional African oral narratives, linking, for example, the role of
the modern writer to that of the traditional griot in a preface appended to his novel
LHarmattan (1963).
Sembnes own working-class background (he began writing after a stint as a
dockworker in Marseilles in the 1950s) clearly informs all of his novels, starting
with The Black Docker (Le Docker noir, 1956), which details the travails of a young
Senegalese man working on the docks in Marseilles while struggling to become a
writer. Sembne moved to the front rank of African Francophone novelists with the
publication in 1960 of Gods Bits of Wood (Les Bouts de bois de Dieu), still regarded
as one of the masterworks of African literature. The book is a historical novel that
dramatizes a 19471948 strike against the Dakar-Niger railway in French colonial
Africa, paying particular attention to the crucial role played by African women in
support of the striking men. While the strikers are black and their bosses are white,
Sembne makes clear his Socialist orientation by presenting the strike in terms of
class struggle rather than racial oppositions.
In 1974, Sembne turned his attention from colonialism to neocolonialism
with the short novel Xala (1976). Employing a mode of comic satire somewhat
in the mode of predecessors like Beti, Sembne explores the ongoing neocolonial
exploitation of Senegal through a depiction of a member of the rich, decadent
indigenous bourgeoisie who continues to do the bidding of his French masters in
order to maintain his wealth and status in postcolonial Senegal. However, vestigial
remnants of precolonial social practices (such as polygamy) are satirized as well,
and Sembne again makes clear his belief that liberation in Africa must be achieved
through Socialism rather than through a return to precolonial tradition.
Anglophone African literature, especially in terms of its reception in the West,
has to some extent been dominated by novelists. The Nigerian novelist Chinua
Achebe, for example, is easily the best-known black African writer in the West. But
Africa has produced important Anglophone poets such as Nigerias Christopher
Okigbo and dramatists such as Nigerias Nobel Prizewinning Wole Soyinka and
South Africas Athol Fugard. The latters work illustrates the way in which the special historical phenomenon of apartheid inspired an entire body of political writings by authors dedicated to the overthrow of that particularly oppressive political
system. Writers such as the Nobel Prize winners J. M. Coetzee and (especially)
Nadine Gordimer have dedicated much of their writing to criticisms of apartheid
from liberal points of view, while Peter Abrahams and Alex La Guma critiqued
apartheid from a particularly radical (Communist) perspective.
Marxism has exerted a strong influence on other radical African writers as
well. Critics such as Emmanuel Ngara and Georg Gugelberger have rightly called



P o s t c o l o n i a l L i t e r at u r e

attention to the important influence of Marxism on African literature. Meanwhile,

Mudimbe notes that while African thought from the 1930s to the 1950s was
informed by a number of important influences, Marxism was clearly the most
important of these. Figures such as Csaire, Lopold Sdar Senghor, Kwame
Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Patrice Lumumba, Amilcar Cabral, Chris Hani, and
Agostinho Neto all made important contributions in the attempt to adapt Socialist
ideas to an African context.
Fanon was perhaps the most important of those who attempted to adapt Marxist
ideas to an African context. His work exerted a strong influence on radical writers
such as Sembne, Sow Fall, Abrahams, La Guma, Angolas Pepetela, and Nigerias
Festus Iyayi, as well as less radical writers such as Ghanas Ayi Kwei Armah and
Zimbabwes Tsitsi Dangarembga.
Kenyas Ngug wa Thiongo is probably the most important Anglophone African writer to have been strongly influenced by Fanon. Drawing also on the long
legacy of Kenyan resistance to British colonial rule (especially the Mau Mau rebellion of 19541956), Ngug has produced an impressive body of novels and plays
that together constitute a powerful critique of British colonialism as well as the
ongoing neocolonialism that continues to dominate postcolonial Kenyan society.
Even his earliest novels, written before his conversion to Marxism, are politically engaged. But it is with Petals of Blood (1977) that the full emergence of Ngugs
Marxist consciousness becomes clear. This novel also represents the first unequivocal endorsement in Ngugs work, in the mode of Fanon, of violent resistance to
oppression. His satirical play Ngaahika Ndeenda (I Will Marry When I Want; written
in Gikuyu with Ngug wa Mirii) was produced by the centers amateur community
theater group in October 1977, causing the Kenyatta government to ban the play
almost immediately as a danger to public security, then later to raze the center
itself and to detain Ngug in the Kamiti maximum security prison, the site of mass
hangings of Mau Mau guerrillas during the 1950s.
In prison, Ngug continued his activism as best he could, covertly authoring
(on toilet paper smuggled into his cell) a novel in Gikuyu, Caitaani Mutharaba-ini.
Released from prison after the death of Jomo Kenyatta in late 1978, Ngug published the novel to brisk sales in 1980, following in 1982 with the publication of
his own English translation, Devil on the Cross. The book is in many ways Ngugs
most Fanonian novel, filled with echoes of Fanons warnings in The Wretched of
the Earth of the corruption and decadence of the native bourgeoisie, who were
groomed by Africas colonial rulers to take power in their steadand in their
image. Ngug followed with another Gikuyu language novel, Matigari, in 1986,
and has devoted much of his time since to promoting writing in Gikuyu and other
indigenous African languages through his editorship of the Gikuyu-language cultural journal Mutiiri.
The works of writers such as Ngug, Sembne, Sow Fall, Abrahams, La Guma,
Pepetela, and Iyayi are among not only the most important postcolonial African
novels but the most important works of world literature in the last half century.
They provide eloquent testimony to the ongoing importance of Socialist ideas
in postcolonial culture, providing among other things a counter to the tendency


toward poststructuralist readings that has sometimes dominated work in postcolonial theory and criticism.
M. Keith Booker
Further Reading
Ashcroft, Bill, Gareth Griffiths, and Helen Tiffin. The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice
in Post-Colonial Literatures. London: Routledge, 1989.
Boehmer, Elleke. Colonial and Postcolonial Literature. New York: Oxford UP, 1995.
Booker, M. Keith. The African Novel in English. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 1998.
Booker, M. Keith, and Dubravka Juraga. The Caribbean Novel in English: An Introduction.
Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann, 2001.
Fanon, Frantz. The Wretched of the Earth. New York: Grove, 1968.
Gugelberger, Georg M., ed. Marxism and African Literature. London: James Currey, 1985.
Ngara, Emmanuel. Art and Ideology in the African Novel: A Study of the Influence of Marxism
on African Writing. London: Heinemann, 1985.
Ngug wa Thiongo. Decolonising the Mind: The Politics of Language in African Literature. London: James Currey, 1986.

Used as a derogatory term by critics concerned with the poverty of American mass
culture in the 1950s, the term postmodernism first came to the forefront of critical discussions of contemporary culture in the late 1960s, when critics such as
Ihab Hassan celebrated postmodernism as a radical new emancipatory form of
cultural production, congruent with the oppositional political movements of that
decade. At about the same time, poststructuralist theorists such as Jean-Franois
Lyotard began to embrace postmodernism as well, and postmodernism and poststructuralism have been closely associated ever since. In general, however, the
most insightful readings of the politics of postmodernism have been performed by
Marxist critics such as Fredric Jameson, who have been highly suspicious of the
subversive and antiauthoritarian energies often attributed to postmodernism, seeing it instead as a cultural phenomenon that, at best, has limited critical potential
and, at worst, works in the interests of the global capitalist hegemony.
Postmodernism is a broad cultural phenomenon that responds to a specific
historical condition and thus impacts an extremely wide array of cultural products, including literature, where the postmodernist novel has been particularly
important. A simple list of the novelists who have been identified as postmodernist indicates the diversity of postmodernist fiction. To an extent, postmodernist
fiction, like other forms of postmodernist art, has been dominated by American
writers, beginning with the early work of such writers as William Gaddis (The
Recognitions, 1955) and Joseph Heller (Catch-22, 1961), with the Russian migr
Vladimir Nabokov often being considered postmodern as well, especially in later,
playful works such as Pale Fire (1962). As postmodernism moved to the forefront
of American culture in the 1960s and 1970s, writers such as Gilbert Sorrentino




(Mulligan Stew, 1979) produced a radically self-reflexive form of metafiction that

often seemed to be concerned with nothing other than itself. However, writers
such as Thomas Pynchon (The Crying of Lot 49, 1966) produced more substantial
work, and Pynchons Gravitys Rainbow (1973) eventually gained the oxymoronic
status of a classic of postmodernism.
Pynchons writing is often politically engaged, though his playful, ironic
approach sometimes makes it difficult to decode any specific political statement
in his work. Other postmodernist writers have also addressed explicitly political
themes, such as Robert Coovers skewering of 1950s conformism and anti-Communism in The Public Burning (1977) and E. L. Doctorows various chronicles of
American history, such as his exploration of the beginnings of modern consumer
culture in Ragtime (1975). More recently, cyberpunk science-fiction writers such
as William Gibson (Neuromancer, 1984) have often been regarded as paradigmatic
of postmodernism, while writers such as Salman Rushdie (Midnights Children,
1981) have produced crucial works that serve as reminders of the global nature
of the phenomenon. Meanwhile, though postmodernist fiction has been a largely
masculine preserve, writers such as Kathy Acker have introduced feminist perspectives, while writers such as Toni Morrison and Maxine Hong Kingston have
shown a simultaneous concern with gender and ethnicity in producing complex
fictions informed by postmodernist tendencies.
Jameson famously describes postmodernism as the cultural logic of late capitalism, or capitalism in its postWorld War II, global, postimperial phase, as
described in Ernest Mandels seminal work Late Capitalism, first published in German in 1972 (and in English translation in 1975). For Jameson, late capitalism
occurs when modernization has swept over the globe and transnational corporations have become the worlds most powerful and important entities, accompanied
by a number of other phenomena, including the new international division of
labor, a vertiginous new dynamic in international banking and the stock exchanges
(including the enormous Second and Third World debt), new forms of media
interrelationship (very much including transportation systems such as containerization), computers and automation, the flight of production to advanced Third
World areas, along with all the more familiar social consequences, including the
crisis of traditional labor, the emergence of yuppies, and gentrification on a nowglobal scale (Postmodernism xix).
Jameson argues that the global hegemony of capitalism leads to the global
homogenization of culture, with postmodernism as the dominant mode worldwide. This does not, of course, mean that no other cultural forms survive in the
postmodern age, only that the postmodern forms are the dominant ones. Thus,
for Jameson, the only authentic cultural production today has seemed to be that
which can draw on the collective experience of marginal pockets of the social life
in the world system, a category that for him includes such heterogeneous entities
as third-world literature, African American literature, British working-class rock,
womens literature, gay literature, and the roman qubecois (Signatures 23).
For Jameson, late capitalism is characterized by plurality, fragmentation, and
constant innovation, leading among other things to the production of a psychically


fragmented postmodern subject that has extreme difficulty with cognitive mapping, or understanding its own place within the world system. Meanwhile, beginning with his groundbreaking essay Postmodernism and Consumer Society,
Jameson suggests that postmodernist art has two key characteristics: the importance of the practice of pastiche (which suggests an erosion of the sense of each
artist as a creator with a unique style) and schizophrenic formal fragmentation
(which is related to a loss of historical sense and of confidence in the wholeness of
the bourgeois subject).
Drawing on the work of Jacques Lacan, Jameson argues that amid the increasing
complexity and fragmentation of experience in the postmodern world, the individual subject experiences a loss of temporal continuity that causes him or her
to experience the world somewhat in the manner of a schizophrenic. The schizophrenic, Jameson says, is condemned to live in a perpetual present with which the
various moments of his or her past have little connection and for which there is no
conceivable future on the horizon. In other words, schizophrenic experience is an
experience of isolated, disconnected, discontinuous material signifiers which fail to
link into a coherent sequence. The schizophrenic does not know personal identity
in our sense, since our feeling of identity depends on our sense of the persistence
of the I and the me over time (Postmodernism and Consumer Society 119).
Not surprisingly, Jameson suggests that this schizophrenic fragmentation in personal identity strongly influences postmodern narratives, in which the characters
often experience fragmented, plural, and discontinuous identities. This schizophrenia also, for Jameson, can be seen in the formal fragmentation of the narratives themselves, leading to the production of postmodern schizophrenic texts by
authors such as Samuel Beckett.
Jameson describes the tendency of postmodernist art to reproduce both the style
and the content of earlier works from various periods as pastiche, or blank parody. For Jameson, pastiche is, like parody, the imitation of a peculiar or unique,
idiosyncratic style, the wearing of a stylistic mask, speech in a dead language. But
it is a neutral practice of such mimicry, without any of parodys ulterior motives,
amputated of the satiric impulse, devoid of any laughter and of any conviction that
alongside the abnormal tongue you have momentarily borrowed, some healthy linguistic normality still exists (Postmodernism 17). For Jameson, pastiche is not only
the most representative technique of postmodernist art but also one with profound
implications for his understanding of postmodernism. This reliance on the styles
of the past serves as an indication of the loss of historical sense that Jameson sees
as a crucial characteristic of postmodernist thought. Postmodernist artists draw on
the past but have no real sense of the past as the prehistory of the present. Thus,
the cultural artifacts of the past serve as a sort of museum of styles from which
postmodernist artists can draw, without any regard to the historical contexts in
which those artifacts were produced. This random cannibalization of all the styles
of the past reduces the past to a series of spectacles, a collection of images disconnected from any genuine sense of historical process.
Postmodernist architecture may be the clearest example of this bricoleur-like
rummaging through the styles of the past for usable images, but Jameson suggests




the nostalgia film as a particularly telling example of the postmodernist fascination with the past. Jameson is thinking of overtly nostalgic representations of the
past in films such as American Graffiti (1973), as well as the retooling of past film
genres in works such as the neo-noir films The Long Goodbye (1973), Chinatown
(1974), and Body Heat (1981). However, this practice of generic pastiche is part
of a much broader postmodern phenomenon in which artworks increasingly take
both their styles and their subject matter from other cultural artifacts rather than
from anything in material reality.
As the cultural logic of late capitalism, postmodernism should be expected to
arise in the years after World War II, when the great European colonial empires collapsed and capitalism began to take on its new global form. It is also no accident that
this same period saw the rise of television as a dominant cultural form, especially
in the United States. Numerous critics have identified commercial television as the
ultimate example of postmodernist culture (see Booker, Strange TV ). For example,
Jim Collins (who makes virtually no distinction between television and postmodernism as cultural phenomena) argues that what makes television truly postmodern is not so much the content of any particular program as the fact that multiple
programs are simultaneously available via the same multichannel medium. For
Collins, the multiple channels of commercial television is thus the central example
of the simultaneous presence of multiple styles that for him is characteristic of the
postmodern context: Post-Modernism departs from its predecessors in that as a
textual practice it actually incorporates the heterogeneity of those conflicting styles,
rather than simply asserting itself as the newest radical alternative seeking to render
all conflicting modes of representation obsolete (11415).
This multiplicity, celebrated by proponents of postmodernism as a democratic
characteristic, also contributes to the complexity that has caused so much critical
disagreement over the exact nature of postmodernism, though numerous critics
have developed accounts of the formal and aesthetic strategies of postmodernist
works. While the specifics of these accounts vary, there is a reasonable consensus
that postmodernist works tend to be self-conscious, ironic, parodic, and formally
fragmented. Terry Eagleton summarizes this consensus as a belief that postmodernist art is a depthless, decentred, ungrounded, self-reflexive, playful, derivative,
eclectic, pluralistic art which blurs the boundaries between high and popular
culture, as well as between art and everyday experience (vii).
In addition, Eagleton notes that this vision of postmodernist art has been closely
aligned with the notion that such art arose within the context of fundamental shifts
in Western thought that occurred in the decades following World War II. This era
of postmodernity is, in the consensus view, characterized by
a style of thought which is suspicious of classical notions of truth, reason, identity
and objectivity, of the idea of universal progress or emancipation, of single frameworks, grand narratives or ultimate grounds of explanation. Against these Enlightenment norms, it sees the world as contingent, ungrounded, diverse, unstable,
indeterminate, a set of disunified cultures or interpretations which breed a degree of
skepticism about the objectivity of truth, history and norms, the givenness of natures
and the coherence of identities. This way of seeing, so some would claim, has real


material conditions: it springs from an historic shift in the West to a new form of
capitalismto the ephemeral, decentralized world of technology, consumerism and
the culture industry, in which the service, finance and information industries triumph over traditional manufacture, and classical class politics yield ground to a
diffuse range of identity politics. (vii)

One might compare here a similar characterization by Best and Kellner, who
see postmodernism as organized around a family of concepts, shared methodological assumptions, and a general sensibility that attack modern methods and
concepts as overly totalizing and reductionistic; that decry utopian and humanistic
values as dystopian and dehumanizing; that abandon mechanical and deterministic schemes in favor of new principles of chaos, contingency, spontaneity, and
organism; that challenge all beliefs in foundations, absolutes, truth, and objectivity,
often to embrace a radical skepticism, relativism, and nihilism; and that subvert
boundaries of all kinds (19).
Eagletons own concern in The Illusions of Postmodernism is not with postmodernist culture but with postmodernity, with the complex of ideas that have informed
postmodernand, to a large extent, poststructuralistthought. And his critique
of the diffuse, confused, and contradictory nature of those ideas goes a long way
toward explaining why it has been so difficult to reach a critical consensus concerning the true nature and historical implications of postmodernism and postmodernity. In any case, however, Eagleton reminds us that postmodern plurality and
boundary crossing are hardly subversive of capitalist authority, given that capitalism is the most pluralistic order history has ever known, restlessly transgressing
boundaries and dismantling oppositions, pitching together diverse life-forms and
continually overflowing the measure (133).
However contradictory, critical attempts to characterize postmodernism have
often been tied together by a common attempt to characterize postmodernism in
contrast with modernism. Many accounts of postmodernism, in fact, have simply
argued that postmodernist works are informed by essentially the same aesthetic
impulses as modernist ones, but that these impulses take more radical forms in postmodernism. For example, Brian McHale, in an influential survey of postmodernist
fiction, notes the epistemological skepticism that is crucial to both modernism and
postmodernism. However, McHale argues that modernist fiction is informed by a
belief in the existence of a fundamental reality about which basic truths exist, however difficult those truths might be to determine. Postmodernist fiction, on the other
hand, is, for McHale, informed by a basic skepticism toward the very existence of
such truths, reality itself being unstable, multiple, and socially determined.
This notion of the skepticism of postmodernism has often translated into a
vision of postmodernist works as fundamentally opposed to authoritarian versions
of truth and reality, often in contrast to a basic desire for order and authority that
informs modernist works. Hassan, one of the critics most responsible for initially
promoting the idea of postmodernism in the 1960s, characterizes postmodernism
in a crucial article by listing the major rubrics of modernism, then explaining
the ways in which postmodernism moves beyond modernism through subversive challenges to modernist ideas of order and authority. For Hassan, whereas




Modernism created its own forms of Authority, precisely because the center no longer held, Postmodernism has tended toward Anarchy, in deeper complicity with
things falling apart (29).
Critics such as Hassan tend to see postmodernism as an irreverent, rule-breaking, populist challenge to the received conventions of the Western aesthetic tradition, somewhat along the lines of the oppositional political movements of the
1960s. Linda Hutcheon, one of the most effective apologists for postmodernist
fiction, implicitly takes this tack when she argues that such fiction is centrally
informed by a subversive challenge to authority, and especially to authoritative,
official narratives of history. Thus, for Hutcheon, the paradigmatic form of postmodernist narrative is what she calls historiographic metafiction, a special form
of the historical novel that reflexively calls attention to its own construction but
also, at the same time, calls attention to the assumptions on which official accounts
of history have been constructed by those in authority.
Arguing that critique is crucial to the definition of the postmodern, Hutcheon acknowledges that this political element of postmodernism can be seen as
part of the unfinished project of the 1960s, for, at the very least, those years left
in their wake a specific and historically determined distrust of ideologies of power
and a more general suspicion of the power of ideology (Politics 10). Of course,
by the 1960s, when such visions of postmodernism as somehow anti-ideological
began to arise, more than a decade of incessant Cold War propaganda had made
ideology almost synonymous with Communism. It is perhaps not surprising,
then, that what coherence Eagleton does find in postmodernity has to do with a
widespread suspicion toward the traditional ideas of the left and with a sense that
the rise of postmodernism has a great deal to do with the perception (accurate or
not) of a historical experience of defeat of the left in the West in the decades following World War II.
Perry Anderson, in his investigation of the historical roots of the idea of
postmodernism, finds a fundamental anti-Socialism at the base of most postmodernist thought. Discussing the well-known suggestion by Lyotard that
postmodernism is informed by a basic incredulity toward metanarratives,
Anderson offers a convincing argument that by metanarratives, Lyotard really
means only one metanarrativethat of classical Marxism. Further, Anderson
argues that Lyotards rejection of Marxism is part of a thoroughgoing rejection
of all utopian alternatives to the existing capitalist order. Indeed, Anderson concludes that the various versions of postmodernism, as they developed in the
work of thinkers as otherwise various as Lyotard, Hassan, Charles Jencks, and
Jrgen Habermas, were united by a consistent antipathy toward the traditional
utopian values of Socialism and the Left: Common to all was a subscription to
the principles of what Lyotardonce the most radicalcalled liberal democracy, as the unsurpassable horizon of the time. There could be nothing but capitalism. The postmodern was a sentence on alternative illusions (46).
Andersons suggestion that postmodernism is rooted in pessimism and resignation contrasts dramatically with the vision of postmodernism as subversive, which
informs the work of critics such as Hassan and Hutcheon. Indeed, as a whole, the


rich body of Marxist commentary on postmodernism, epitomized by the work

of Jameson, tends to see the rise of postmodernist culture as aligned with (rather
than opposed to) the expansion and transformation of capitalism after World War
II. For example, David Harvey associates the rise of postmodernism with a fundamental transformation of capitalism into a post-Fordist mode of production after
World War II. For Harvey, this new, more subtle and flexible form of capitalism
extends the control of the economic system into areas (including culture) that had
previously been relatively autonomous. Postmodernism, then, signals nothing
more than a logical extension of the power of the market over the whole range of
cultural production (62).
Other Marxist critics have warned against exaggerating the extent to which capitalism has changed in the postwar years, fearing that an emphasis on such changes
might obscure fundamental continuities in the basic form of capitalist production. Even Harvey, for example, reminds us that, whatever changes capitalism has
undergone in the postwar era, we still live, in the West, in a society where production for profit remains the basic organizing principle of economic life (121). Consequently, Harvey also concludes that