The Popular Front Novel in Britain, 1934-1940


In The Popular Front Novel in Britain, 1934-1940, Elinor Taylor provides the first study of the relationship between the British novel and the anti-fascist Popular Front strategy endorsed by the Comintern in 1935. Through readings of novels by British Communists including Jack Lindsay, John Sommerfield, Lewis Jones and James Barke, Taylor shows that the realist novel of the left was a key site in which the politics of anti-fascist alliance were rehearsed. Maintaining a dialogue with theories of populism and with Georg Lukács’s vision of a revived literary realism ensuing from the Popular Front, this book at once illuminates the cultural formation of the Popular Front in Britain and proposes a new framework for reading British fiction of this period.

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Elinor Taylor, Ph.D. (2014), University of Salford, is currently a lecturer in the Department of English, Linguistics and Cultural Studies at the University of Westminster. She is the author of several articles on Communist writers.

The Popular Front
Culture, Crisis and Democracy
The Popular Front Novel

Realism and Modernism

1 Anti-Fascist Aesthetics in International Context
Socialist Realism
British Developments
Language, Form and Popularity
Ralph Fox’s Realism

2 John Sommerfield, May Day (1936)
John Sommerfield: Literature and Activism
Vox Populi and Bird’s Eye
Montage and Memory
Myth and Tradition

3 Arthur Calder-Marshall, Pie in the Sky (1937)
Bathos and Narrative Convention
Failures of Articulation

History and the Historical Novel

4 History and the Historical Novel
British Communists and English History
The Historical Novel of the Popular Front
Jack Lindsay’s English Trilogy

Class, Nation, People

5 James Barke and the National Turn
The National Turn (I): British Questions
The National Turn (II): Critical Voices
‘There is no Scottish National Question’
James Barke, Major Operation (1936)
James Barke, The Land of the Leal (1939)

6 Lewis Jones’s Fiction
Shame, Vision and Reification
Forms and Modes
Spain and Home


Works Cited
This book will appeal to scholars and students of interwar British literature, the history of Communism in Britain, and Marxist literary theory.
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