Christopher Caudwell was the pseudonym of Christopher St. John Sprigg, a British journalist and professional writer who became an important philosopher and critic in the 1930's, author of Illusion and Reality and Studies in a Dying Culture.
In the mid-thirties Caudwell joined the Communist Party; he died in 1937 in the defense of Madrid, leaving the manuscript of Romance and Realism unpublished. This short but comprehensive book is a Marxist interpretation of English literature from Shakespeare to Spender. The author follows the course of English history-the end of feudalism, the age of exploration, the rise of the common man, industrialization, science- producing his particular synthesis of literature as a subjective experience (romance) and as a response to society (realism). The major writers and movements of English literature are discussed, often with brilliant observations.
Romance and Realism is important as Marxist criticism, as a reflection of the acrid definitions of the writers of the thirties (including Auden, Orwell, C. Day Lewis), and as the highly personal view of a talented critic.
Originally published in 1971.
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