In My Opinion: An Inquiry into the Contemporary Novel

By Orville Prescott | Go to book overview

II :
THE POLITICAL NOVEL
Warren, Orwell, Koestler

"The blood of citizens is the mortar wherewith the governments of tyrants is cemented. Let every man therefore do what he can that no edifice of this sort be built in his city."-- Francisco Guicciardini, 1492- 1540

Twenty years ago the depression taught many of us that economics is not just the dismal science, that it is bread. Since then fascism and communism have been teaching us that politics is not just a sordid game played on a national stage, that it is life itself. Novelists learned these lessons so well that the political novel has become more important in our time than it has ever been before.

The political novel is nothing new under the sun. Balzac and Trollope wrote of politics and many a Utopian idealist has presented his dreams in the guise of fiction. But the portentous importance of modern politics has given novels which deal with it an urgency which their predecessors lacked.

There are two principal varieties of political fiction: novels about characters involved in politics and so about politics themselves; and novels designed to persuade their readers to share their authors' political convictions, novels which are primarily

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