In this Book

Conversations with Trotsky
summary
This collection presents all of Earle Birney’s known published and unpublished writings on Trotsky and Trotskyism for the very first time. It includes their correspondence as well as a selection of Birney’s letters and literary writings. 

Before he became one of Canada’s most influential and popular twentieth century poets, Earle Birney lived a double life. To his students and colleagues, he was an engaging university lecturer and scholar. But for seven years—from 1933 to 1940—the great Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky was the focus of his writing and much of his life. 

During his years as a Trotskyist in Canada, the United States and England, Birney wrote extensively about Trotsky, corresponded with him, organized Trotskyist cells in two countries, and recruited on behalf of Trotskyism; he also lectured on Trotsky and interviewed him over the course of several days. One of his two novels is based on some of these activities. 

The collection traces the origins of Trotsky’s mistrust of “the British” to his experiences in Canada; shows Birney’s influence on a major shift in Trotsky’s policy of “entrism” in British politics; includes the largest body of Trotskyist criticism in Canadian literary history; and demonstrates the need for a radical re-reading of Birney’s poetry in light of his Trotskyism.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
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  1. Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Epigraph
  2. pp. i-viii
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. ix-xii
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  1. Preface
  2. pp. xiii-xviii
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  1. Acknowledgements
  2. pp. xix-xx
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  1. Introduction
  2. pp. 1-62
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  1. I. An “optimistic sort of revolutionary” 1933–1935
  1. 1. Report to the Toronto Branch of the International Left Opposition
  2. pp. 65-78
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  1. 2. Letter to an American Medical Student
  2. pp. 79-84
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  1. 3. Mine Strike, Martial Law and a Student Delegation
  2. pp. 85-92
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  1. 4. To the Section Bureau, CPUSA, Salt Lake City, Utah
  2. pp. 93-96
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  1. 5. To the Salt Lake Section Committee, CPUSA
  2. pp. 97-104
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  1. 6. A Letter Refused by the Salt Lake City Press
  2. pp. 105-106
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  1. 7. In Defence of Party Democracy
  2. pp. 107-114
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  1. 8. The Struggle Against British Imperialism
  2. pp. 115-122
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  1. II. Conversations with Trotsky 1935
  1. 9. Birney to Trotsky
  2. pp. 125-128
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  1. 10. Interviewing Leon Trotsky
  2. pp. 129-134
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  1. 11. Conversations with Trotsky
  2. pp. 135-150
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  1. 12. Further Conversations with Trotsky
  2. pp. 151-158
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  1. 13. Trotsky on the Canadian Farmer
  2. pp. 159-162
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  1. 14. Birney to Trotsky
  2. pp. 163-166
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  1. 15. Birney to Trotsky
  2. pp. 167-168
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  1. III. Political Writings: 1935–1939
  1. 16. Incident in Berlin
  2. pp. 171-176
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  1. 17. Trotsky to Birney
  2. pp. 177-178
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  1. 18. Birney to Trotsky
  2. pp. 179-190
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  1. 19. Birney to Trotsky
  2. pp. 191-192
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  1. 20. Birney to Trotsky
  2. pp. 193-194
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  1. 21. Another Month—January
  2. pp. 195-198
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  1. 22. Another Month—February
  2. pp. 199-202
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  1. 23. Another Month—March
  2. pp. 203-204
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  1. 24. Birney to Joe Hansen
  2. pp. 205-210
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  1. 25. Trotsky to Birney
  2. pp. 211-212
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  1. 26. Birney to Trotsky
  2. pp. 213-216
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  1. 27. Canadian Capitalism and the Strategy of the Revolutionary Movement
  2. pp. 217-234
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  1. 28. The Land of the Maple Leaf Is the Land of Monopoly: Canada and World Politics
  2. pp. 235-248
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  1. 29. Is French Canada Going Fascist?
  2. pp. 249-260
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  1. 30. Trotsky to Birney
  2. pp. 261-262
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  1. 31. Birney to Trotsky
  2. pp. 263-266
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  1. 32. War Is Here—What Now?
  2. pp. 267-272
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  1. IV. Literature and Revolution 1934–1940
  1. 33. Escape by Emetic
  2. pp. 275-278
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  1. 34. On “Proletarian Literature”
  2. pp. 279-282
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  1. 35. The Brave New Words of Aldous Huxley
  2. pp. 283-284
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  1. 36. Cecil Day Lewis, The Loving Communist
  2. pp. 285-286
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  1. 37. Proletarian Literature: Theory and Practice
  2. pp. 287-292
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  1. 38. What Do Canadians Tell Stories About?
  2. pp. 293-296
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  1. 39. R.M. Fox: Worker–Fighter
  2. pp. 297-298
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  1. 40. Soviet Fiction and American Fustian
  2. pp. 299-300
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  1. 41. The Importance of Being Ernest Hemingway
  2. pp. 301-304
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  1. 42. Polygamous Communists from Toronto to Salt Lake
  2. pp. 305-306
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  1. 43. Yorkshire Proletarians
  2. pp. 307-308
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  1. 44. The Rhymes of the Irish Revolution
  2. pp. 309-310
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  1. 45. The Lost Irish Lenin?
  2. pp. 311-314
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  1. 46. Onward with Edward Upward
  2. pp. 315-316
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  1. 47. The Two William Faulkners
  2. pp. 317-320
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  1. 48. John Bull’s Other Hell
  2. pp. 321-324
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  1. 49. The English Worker
  2. pp. 325-328
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  1. 50. New Writing in Britain and Elsewhere
  2. pp. 329-330
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  1. 51. The Fiction of James T. Farrell
  2. pp. 331-338
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  1. 52. The New Byronism: Poets and the Spanish Civil War
  2. pp. 339-340
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  1. 53. Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath
  2. pp. 341-342
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  1. 54. The Left Theatre in English
  2. pp. 343-344
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  1. 55. Whitewashing the Stalinist Persecutors of Artists
  2. pp. 345-346
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  1. 56. The Mad Sanity of Henry Miller
  2. pp. 347-348
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  1. 57. To Arms with Canadian Poetry
  2. pp. 349-354
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  1. 58. Fashion and Change on Broadway, or Propaganda Is What You Disagree With
  2. pp. 355-356
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  1. 59. New Writing and Literary Stalinism
  2. pp. 357-358
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  1. 60. Erika Mann and the Middle-Class Martyrs of Fascism
  2. pp. 359-360
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  1. 61. Literary Stalinism: Lehmann vs. Birney
  2. pp. 361-364
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  1. 62. Changing Minds in Wartime
  2. pp. 365-366
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  1. V. Envoi 1940
  1. 63. In Memory: Lev Davidovich Bronstein
  2. pp. 369-374
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  1. Acronyms and Abbreviations
  2. pp. 375-378
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  1. Textual Sources
  2. pp. 379-396
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  1. Works Cited
  2. pp. 397-408
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  1. Index
  2. pp. 409-420
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