As Benjamin Kohlmann argues in Committed Styles: Modernism, Politics, and Left-Wing Literature in the 1930s, the “intensity with which many thirties authors criticized the idea of political writing after 1939 has become one of the iconic volte-faces in twentieth-century literary history” (197). By the end of the decade, numerous authors and intellectuals had already begun to dismiss the politically committed literature produced during the 1930s. Among the most prominent voices were some who had contributed to this very literature. This dismissal established a foundation for a postwar representation of the period as a “literary wasteland” (198), a view that Kohlmann argues was shared by figures from the “influential American critic, Stanley E. Hyman” to the writer and Horizon editor Cyril Connolly, both of whom saw the “attempt to politicize literature” as a failure (199). This response to the decade, Kohlmann argues, continues to inform...
Committed Styles: Modernism, Politics, and Left-Wing Literature in the 1930s by Benjamin Kohlmann
Ben Clarke is associate professor of English at the University of North Carolina, Greensboro. He is the author of Orwell in Context: Communities, Myths, Values and coauthor, with Michael Bailey and John K. Walton, of Understanding Richard Hoggart: A Pedagogy of Hope.