Essays on Politics and Literature

Essays on Politics and Literature

Essays on Politics and Literature

Essays on Politics and Literature

Synopsis

This lively collection of essays gives a non-technical, but profound analysis of the essential relationship between politics and literature. Bernard Crick shows how 'political theatre' is often both bad theatre and simplistic politics, but how good producers can bring out political messages in such seemingly 'unpolitical' dramas as Twelfth Night. The essays begin with general themes, including a vigorous critique of RSC and NT producers' views of the political, and a denial of the myth that the far left dominated 1930s writing. They then move on to an analysis of George Orwell and finally to celebrate specific occasions and events in modern British theatre. With his refreshing disrespect for over-ornate and overly scholastic Marxist and academic writers, Professor Crick's book will be of interest to all those concerned with the arts and the theatre, as well as political philosophers and English literature students.

Excerpt

One feels that a volume of mixed essays needs some excuse. Nowadays it is most often monographs or novels or nothing. But I enjoy both occasional writing and more considered essays, and try to put a lot of thought into both. Contrary to the advice I used to give students, about thinking it all out before beginning to write an essay, I usually can only think in the act of writing -- but then there is always re-writing. Good political writing is no different from any other creative and critical writing in that respect. Also thought itself is often better represented and runs more freely in speculative essays than in heavily constructed or even hedged conclusions. Critical argument deserves a wider public than the purely academic, or rather academics should try to reach out as well as in: and when one tries to reach out, disciplinary boundaries become hard to observe even if one attached much respect to them in the first place. I am afraid I never have. I always had a sense of being or of wanting to be in a university community more than a department. That is why I respected LSE, who first employed me, but never liked it as much as University College London where I was an undergraduate with friends all over the shop. And that is why I enjoyed writing about Orwell so much and about theatre when a cynical or sensible editor of the Times Higher Education Supplement, Mr Brian MacCarthy (not the present serious fellow), asked me 'to write', primarily, I soon gathered, to fill a big page and was surprised but tolerant when I chose to do so on my real love, theatre. I can answer the question 'if you had your life over again . . .?'

I could confess to a slight boredom with the academic study of politics by which I earned my bread for many years, and this partly led to me early retirement; but the boredom was decently concealed and to elaborate now might damage a companion volume shortly to follow this, Political Thoughts and Polemics. So I prefer to say that the essays here are those in which I found the . . .

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