British Fiction and the Cold War by A. Hammond

By A. Hammond

This booklet deals a distinct research of the wide-ranging responses of British novelists to the East-West clash. Hammond analyses the remedy of such geopolitical currents as communism, nuclearism, clandestinity, decolonisation and US superpowerdom, and explores the literary kinds which writers built to catch the complexities of the age.

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Against this backdrop of Zhdanovite constraint, 40 British Fiction and the Cold War Powell’s portrait of leftist literary culture becomes a defence of the ‘free world’: despite its opposition to the British state, the publisher is allowed to operate and even The Pistons of Our Locomotives is allowed to find its way into print, albeit retitled to make it more marketable. M. Thomas’s quintet ‘Russian Nights’ (1983–90). 122 The easing of tensions between the Soviet Union and the West opened up space for reflection on communism elsewhere in the world, with novelists developing a distinct, though marginal, interest in the People’s Republic of China, Africa, the Caribbean and the Middle East.

The IRD courted opinion formers within the domestic media and, by the mid-1970s, had built up a circulation list of 92 journalistic contacts on such papers as the Guardian, Observer, Financial Times, Telegraph and Sunday Express. It also established a publishing front, Ampersand Limited, as well as collaborative projects with Batchwood Press, Phoenix House, Allen & Unwin and Bodley Head, in which it would select favourable subjects and authors and subsidise publication through bulk order, much of which was then distributed in the Third World.

G. Quiggan, who has ‘always had Communist leanings, but [is] afraid to commit himself’, and ‘doctrinaire Left’ Howard Craggs, who ‘has been a fellow-traveller for years’ (83, 41, 101, 41). The split is clarified by the commissioning of a translated novel, The Pistons of Our Locomotives Sing the Songs of Our Workers. While Craggs endorses this revolutionary screed, Quiggan is ‘not keen on frank propaganda’ and would prefer ‘inconspicuous fraternal writings inculcating the message in quiet ways’ (152).

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