JAMES T. FARRELL: The Revolutionary Socialist Years by Alan Maynard Wald

JAMES T. FARRELL: The Revolutionary Socialist Years

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KIRKUS REVIEW

James T. Farrell is an enduring figure in American intellectual history. Throughout his long and prolific career he has always been concerned with the writer's responsibility to ""use freedom seriously,"" with fiction that recreated the consciousness of its moment. For Farrell this has meant realism, most successfully achieved in the Studs Lonigan trilogy. Professor Wald's study traces Farrell's development from the 1920s to the 1940s, making extensive use of letters, diaries, and articles. The split between supporters of the Soviet Union and independent thinkers--an ideological conflict with lasting consequences--constitutes the book's most interesting part. Farrell's 1936 Note On Literary Criticism, published at the time of the Moscow Trials and the denunciation of Trotsky, marked his break with the Communists and writers obedient to Moscow. Farrell met and admired Trotsky, and the doctrinal pot bubbled. Partisan Review mounted a cultural challenge to the Stalinists; the Nation and The New Republic adopted a policy of convenient neutrality. But Farrell was firmly in the Dewey-Mead tradition, and in the Forties felt an increasing sense of isolation from other leftist intellectuals. Wald contends that his Irish, plebeian origins, his personal struggle with Catholicism, and his commitment to literary realism set him apart from those writers gathered around the Partisan Review. The investigation of the Trotsky connection, Wald's main point, is not totally convincing, but he has written a valuable portrait of a deeply committed man in an important era.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1978
Publisher: New York Univ. Press