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Writers On The Left, a volume in the Fund for the Republic Series on Communism in American Life, is probably the most important survey of radicalism and literature in this country during the period between the two World Wars to have yet come forth. Author Daniel Aaron writes with style and size; he has intellectual vigor and a knack for comprehensive penetration; he as often grapples with the philosophical-historical aspects of Marxian theory as he does with the immediate socio-economic problems of the decades considered, and he does it honestly, impersonally and with all the sweep of a stunning coup. The events are all there, from the pre-Wilson progressives to the rebels and renegades of New Dlism, through the Paterson strike, the IWW, the Kharkov Congress, to the launching of the famed little mags- Masses, New Masses, Liberator and the original Partisan Review. And the personalities involved come smackingly to life: Floyd Dell, egendary John Reed, Mike Gold, Joe Freeman, Edmund Wilson, Granville Hicks, Dos Passos, Malcolm Cowley, Max Eastman, Sacco and Vanzettl, the Seven Arts group, Van Wyck Brooks, Meneken, William Phillips, Howard Fast et al. The pages bristle with die-hard Communist polemics, along with other less sectarian quotes from parlor pinks, socialist independents, political amorasts; speeches from the First Writers convention; Gold's scandal-making attack on Thornton Wilder; a very funny E.E. Cummings spoof; and even Eliot and Ezra Pound's views on 'class' literature and the proletariat. In the end, or course, the grand disenchantment took over; the Moscow Trials, Stalinist feudalism, Trotsky's crucifixion, the Soviet-Hitler pact and the lives of millions systematically sacrificed to preserve the future of an ideology inevitably sounded the death knell. A remarkable book indeed, invaluable for students, critics and thinking men in general.

Pub Date: Nov. 8th, 1961
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World