In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

Reviews 163 Peel's The Risings of the Luddites) of the same event. This treatment of socialist novels is perhaps more on target than many of the other essays in this volume, because Rignall has chosen to concentrate on the historical novel and to re-define it as a genre from a socialist perspective. This is a project, it seems to me, that needs to be at the very core of socialist criticism. Pitting his chosen novels against mainstream texts such as those of Scott, Rignall finds that the resolution to the conflict between socialist ideology and capitalist control in the class struggle is best located in the novelist's combining oppressive conditions and individuals ' actions as determining the course of history. Historical reality, combined with socialist visions and efforts and with the determining structure of thought they both must confront, is reconciled by aUowing for individual empowerment and initiative. Socialist historical novels thus offer resolutions not only to historical inconclusiveness, but also to historical and class-rooted misconceptions ofhistory. So the project of the socialist historical novelist needs to be two-pronged, but when it comes right down to it, these must always remain inconclusive narratives, because the end to class struggle is not yet in site. This essay gets to the heart of the matter of evaluating and learning from socialist novels, then, because it makes clear two important aspects of poUtically assertive and progressive novels: how they are placed in history and culture is problematic; and how they themselves illustrate this predicament by utilizing a number of means to resolve the problem. A victorious history of the working class is not ready to be written today, just as it was not ready then; it can only be envisioned as a future prospect. The real task lies in revision, and in gaining new perspectives on the socialist novelist's position in relation to the history he knows intimately and the accounts of history he does not recognize as accurate. Apart from the essays outUned here, the anthology offers several other stimulating essays. For the most part, what this anthology reveals in its entirety (although this is rarely made explicit), is that there are a multitude of ideological strains and conflicts inherent in socialist novels. Had the collection made this its target and focus, or had it at least chosen to acknowledge that these problems exist, it might have left us feeling less frustrated. Had it chosen to concern itself with the many intricacies concerning the relations between oppressive and progressive ideologies, we might have gained a great deal more from perusing these essays. The constant reminder throughout this text is that we may not, as critical readers of socialist texts, jump to too many conclusions, and that fiction's relationship to historyin -the-making and history in retrospect are really the tools and ought to be the subjects of future inquiries. RITA KRANIDIS Art for the Masses: A Radical Magazine and its Graphics, 19II-I9I7 by Rebecca Zurier. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1988. pp. 216. $29.95 (cloth); $19.95 (paper). In the Acknowledgements to this stunningly handsome book, recently issued in paper, Rebecca Zurier bluntly and rather courageously asserts the relevance of 7"Ae Masses and its circle to our own times, citing in particular the historic semester-long strike by clerical and technical workers at Yale during the time the exhibit of graphics from TAe Masses, upon which the book is based, was being organized. "Suddenly," she observes, "the issues discussed in The Masses were all around us as we found ourselves reexamining the idea of a living wage, the value of women's work, the effectiveness of civil disobedience, the relationships between employers and employees." Thus are the academic, professionalized sectors of Ms. Zurier's audience confronted in the very first paragraph with a challenge, one that is implicitly and repeatedly made by the very content of her book: why has the recent proliferation of political and ideological criticism, which has resulted in an enormous increase in political self-consciousness, stopped short of going beyond the politics of criticism to in- 164 the minnesota review elude the politics of the critic as citizen—that is, as...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 163-166
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.