Social Scientist. v 1, no. 4 (Nov 1972) p. 82.


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BOOK REVIEW

CHRISTOPHER CAUDWELL, ROMANCE AND REALISM : A STUDY IN ENGLISH BOURGEOIS LITERATURE, (ed) Samuel Hynes, Princeton University Press, 1970.

THE most remarkable fact about Christopher Caudwell was not his versatility, but the astonishing rapidity with which his intellect ripened. The versatility of his talent is evident from his writings which include several crime novels, a serious novel, poems, books on aviation, a mock-epic, two volumes of (Kafkaesque stories), three plays and above all his literary theoretical studies like Illusion and Reality, Studies in a Dying Culture, etc. Till 1934^ his 26th year, he seems to have led an apolitical life of a professional writer producing miscellaneous stuff of indifferent value. Sometime in 1934 he became a Marxist and in the brief span of three years he wrote all his literary theoretical works on which his fame as a Marxist literary scholar rests today.

Caudwell was brought up as a Roman Catholic and had his schooling at a Benedictine school. From the age of 15 he was a professional journalist and writer. He did not have a university career. Nor was he associated with the trendy left intellectuals of the thirties, many of whom later proved their inability to distinguish left from right. Caudwell was in search of an integrated Weltanschauung, one that would satisfy his emotional, scientific, and artistic needs. He found that in Marxism. Before he joined the Communist Party he wrote in a letter :

As long as there was a disintegration I had necessarily an unsafe provisional attitude to reality, a somewhat academic superficial attitude ...The remedy is nothing so simple as a working-over and polishing up of prose, but to come to terms with myself and my environment. His joining the party was a decisive step in the process of coming to terms with himself and his environment. His sense of freedom and responsibility makes him say :

A revolutionary must be a member of the revolutionary party. He must participate in its problems and help to form its tactics. He must execute the plans it has formed and which he has helped to



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