British Writers of the Thirties (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
The 1930’s in Great Britain were a time of strained seriousness and sophomoric frivolity, of Marxism and fascism, of fads and traditionalism. In British Writers of the Thirties, Valentine Cunningham looks at the decade’s social and political issues as seen in the lives and works of its major and minor poets, novelists, playwrights, essayists, and critics. Cunningham, a fellow and tutor in English literature at Corpus Christi College, University of Oxford, is an expert in political literature, having written Everywhere Spoken Against: Dissent in the Victorian Novel (1975) and edited Spanish Front: Writers on the Civil War (1986). He is sympathetic toward the goals of the leftist writers of the 1930’s but is less than impressed by their political achievements. Sorting through facts and fictions about the period and such figures as W. H. Auden, T. E. Lawrence, and Wyndham Lewis, he uncovers compromises, lies, hypocrisy, back-stabbing, Old-Boyism, and decadence on both sides of the political spectrum.
Cunningham acknowledges that his approach to literary criticism is unfashionable but claims that deconstructionists have only “half an argument” because they ignore the context in which literature is created. By connecting historical events, the private lives of writers, and literary works, he attempts to reveal “whole ranges of sets of meanings rippling outwards into the dense textures of the wider literature and history...
(The entire section is 2245 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 1989)
British Book News. October, 1987, p. 700.
Encounter. LXX, April, 1988, p. 62.
The Guardian Weekly. CXXXVIII, February 21, 1988, p. 28.
Library Journal. CXIII, January, 1988, p. 87.
London Review of Books. X, June 23, 1988, p. 12.
The Observer. February 7, 1988, p. 24.
Punch. CCXCIV, March 4, 1988, p. 48.
Quill and Quire. LIV, May, 1988, p. 29.
The Spectator. CCLX, February 6, 1988, p. 26.
The Times Educational Supplement. February 12, 1988, p. 25.
The Times Literary Supplement. June 10, 1988, p. 651.
(The entire section is 58 words.)