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The Iron Heel at 100: Jack London—The Artist as “Antenna of the Race”

Bad times inhibit good writers, but they also inspire them. Just look at the new and recent arrivals in bookstores and libraries. The double-barreled assault on civil liberties and human rights, by the administration of President George Walker Bush, has, if nothing else, spurred an outpouring of books, both fiction and nonfiction, condemning the erosion of American democracy and the perceived drift toward totalitarianism. Jack London—the best-selling twentieth-century American author, who was born in 1876, the year of the American Centenary, and who died in 1916, the year before the United States entered the First World War—would surely not be surprised. In fact, one might well anoint London the founding father of the contemporary body of literature about political repression, including Henry Giroux’s The Emerging Authoritarianism in the United States, Matthew Rothschild’s You Have No Rights, Chris Hedges’s American Fascists, Robert Kennedy Jr.’s Crimes Against Nature, and Philip Roth’s disquieting 2003 novel The Plot Against America. Of course, there are many others that cover much the same terrain. | more…

American Literature Root and Flower, Volume II: Significant Poets, Novelists and Dramatists, 1775–1955

American Literature Root and Flower, Volume II: Significant Poets, Novelists and Dramatists, 1775–1955

A companion to Rubinstein’s celebrated study of English literature, American Literature Root and Flower examines the lives and works of over fifty important American novelists, poets, and dramatists. This two-volume study is one of remarkable scope, ranging from Hawthorne to the Harlem Renaissance, from Poe to Pynchon. It illuminates the relationship between the producers of American literature and their ever-changing social and political contexts, while emphasizing the current of critique and resistance that runs through the entire tradition. Monthly Review Press is proud to present the first-ever U.S. printing of this valuable and enlightening work. | more…

American Literature Root and Flower, Volume I: Significant Poets, Novelists and Dramatists, 1775–1955

American Literature Root and Flower, Volume I: Significant Poets, Novelists and Dramatists, 1775–1955

A companion to Rubinstein’s celebrated study of English literature, American Literature Root and Flower examines the lives and works of over fifty important American novelists, poets, and dramatists. This two-volume study is one of remarkable scope, ranging from Hawthorne to the Harlem Renaissance, from Poe to Pynchon. It illuminates the relationship between the producers of American literature and their ever-changing social and political contexts, while emphasizing the current of critique and resistance that runs through the entire tradition. Monthly Review Press is proud to present the first-ever U.S. printing of this valuable and enlightening work. | more…

The Mythology of Imperialism: A Revolutionary Critique of British Literature and Society in the Modern Age

The Mythology of Imperialism: A Revolutionary Critique of British Literature and Society in the Modern Age

“We, the readers and students of literature, have been hijacked. The literary critics, our teachers, those assassins of culture, have put us up against the wall and held us captive.” So begins Jonah Raskin’s The Mythology of Imperialism. When first published in 1971, this book was nothing short of a call to arms, an open revolt against the literary establishment. In his critique of five well–known British writers—Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling, D. H. Lawrence, E. M. Forster, and Joyce Cary—Raskin not only developed the model for a revolutionary anti–imperialist criticism, but, through this book’s influence on Edward Said, helped usher in the field of postcolonial studies. | more…

Possibility and Hope: Getting from Here to There

Pete Seeger is one of the world’s quintessential activists, having played such an important role in singing the songs and engaging in the struggles of civil rights, free speech, human rights, anti-Vietnam War, environmental, peace, anti-nuclear, and social justice movements. (David Kupfer, “Longtime Passing,” Whole Earth Magazine, 104, 2001, p. 19.)  | more…

The Marxian Imagination: Representing Class in Literature

The Marxian Imagination: Representing Class in Literature

The Marxian Imagination is a fresh and innovative recasting of Marxist literary theory and a powerful account of the ways class is represented in literary texts. Where earlier theorists have treated class as a fixed identity site, Markels sees class in more dynamic terms, as a process of accumulation involving many, often conflicting, sites of identity. Rather than examining the situations and characters explicitly identified in class terms, this makes it possible to see how racial and gender identities are caught up in the processes of accumulation that define class. Markels shows how a Marxian imagination is at work in a range of great literary works, often written by non-Marxists. | more…

Insurgent Images: The Agitprop Murals of Mike Alewitz

Insurgent Images: The Agitprop Murals of Mike Alewitz

The most prolific U.S. labor muralist since the 1940s, Alewitz follows the traditions of Diego Rivera, José Clemente Orozco, and David Siqueiros as well as the early painters of the Russian Revolution. With a demonstrated blend of artistic integrity and political commitment, Insurgent Images combines grand historical themes with enlivening detail, to illustrate the interplay between personality and event. Alewitz brings to this tradition his own rich sense of irony, humor, and fantasy to illuminate the hidden spaces where connections between the workforce of the U.S. and its extended relatives across the planet are to be found. | more…

The Art of Democracy: A Concise History of Popular Culture in the United States

The Art of Democracy: A Concise History of Popular Culture in the United States

Popular culture has been a powerful force in the United States, connecting disparate and even hostile constituencies. The novels of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, the theater and minstrel shows of the mid-nineteenth century, movies and the introduction of television and computers in the twentieth century are the building blocks that Jim Cullen uses to show how unique and vibrant cultural forms overcame initial resistance and enabled historically marginalized groups to gain access to the fruits of society and recognition from the mainstream. | more…

Cultures of Darkness: Night Travels in the Histories of Transgression

Cultures of Darkness: Night Travels in the Histories of Transgression

Peasants, religious heretics, witches, pirates, runaway slaves, prostitutes and pornographers, frequenters of taverns and fraternal society lodge rooms, revolutionaries, blues and jazz musicians, beats, and contemporary youth gangs: those who defied authority, choosing to live dangerously outside the defining cultural dominions of early insurgent and, later, dominant capitalism are what Bryan D. Palmer calls people of the night. | more…

Days and Nights of Love and War

Days and Nights of Love and War

Days and Nights of Love and War is the personal testimony of one of Latin America’s foremost contemporary political writers. In this fascinating journal and eloquent history, Eduardo Galeano movingly records the lives of struggles of the Latin American people, under two decades of unimaginable violence and extreme repression. Alternating between reportage, personal vignettes, interviews, travelogues, and folklore, and richly conveyed with anger, sadness, irony, and occasional humor, Galeano pays loving tribute to the courage and determination of those who continued to believe in, and fight for, a more human existence. | more…

Homage to Pasolini on the Twentieth Anniversary of His Murder

Pier Paolo Pasolini, born in Bologna on March 5, 1922, and raised in the Friuli region of Venetia, is, in the words of Alberto Moravia, the major Italian poet of the second half of the twentieth century. He was also a filmmaker, novelist, and political journalist of genius. He was murdered twenty years ago, on November 2, 1975. | more…

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