Literature

George Orwell, Spain, and revolution

Submitted by AWL on 20 March, 2019 - 11:19 Author: George Chance

In his 1947 essay, “Why I Write”, George Orwell explained:

“The Spanish war and other events in 1936-37 turned the scale and thereafter I knew where I stood. 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…”

Homage to Catalonia, in which Orwell bore witness to the murder of the Spanish Revolution, was the product of this defining period of Orwell’s life, at least the literary and political equal of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four.

The Satanic Verses thirty years on

Submitted by AWL on 2 March, 2019 - 8:56 Author: Matthew Thompson
Rushdie

It is thirty years since the publication of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses, partly based on the life of the founder of Islam, Muhammad, sparked protests across the Muslim world, with riots in India and Pakistan in which dozens of Rushdie's fellow Muslims were shot dead, book burnings on the streets of Britain, and ultimately an Iranian death sentence which sent its author into hiding under armed police guard.

Richard Wright and Stalinism

Submitted by AWL on 27 February, 2019 - 10:57 Author: Dan Katz
Wright

Richard Wright, the American author of the novels Native Son and Black Boy, was born on a plantation in Roxie, near Natchez, Mississippi in 1908. He died of a heart attack in Paris, in 1960, aged 52. For a while, especially in the early 1940s, he was an enormously prominent and important leftwing author.

The anxieties of Brexit Britain

Submitted by AWL on 12 December, 2018 - 12:18 Author: Matt Kinsella
middle england

Jonathan Coe’s latest volume Middle England has been widely described as the best “state of the nation” novel of the last decade, and deservedly so. Whilst Ali Smith’s Autumn was an impressionistic take on the immediate aftermath of the referendum – the first post-Brexit novel – Coe’s book manages to balance the coverage of political events in the run up to June 2016 with an intimate look at how it all unfolds in the lives of characters last seen in Coe’s two Rotters’ Club novels, as well as introducing many new ones.

Where they linger

Submitted by cathy n on 14 November, 2018 - 6:33 Author: Matt Kinsella

In Wayétu Moore’s debut novel She Would Be King, set in the 1840s, three characters find their lives intertwining with each other, and with the future of the newly created Liberia.

All are fleeing persecution: Gbessa, accused of witchcraft, is driven from the West African village of Lai; June Dey escapes from a Virginia tobacco plantation, headed for freedom in New York; and Norman Aragon, child of a Jamaican Maroon and a British colonist, longs to escape his father’s cruel experiments. The three seek sanctuary, and find themselves in Monrovia.

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