By A. Hammond
This publication deals a different research of the wide-ranging responses of British novelists to the East-West clash. Hammond analyses the therapy of such geopolitical currents as communism, nuclearism, clandestinity, decolonisation and US superpowerdom, and explores the literary kinds which writers constructed to trap the complexities of the age.
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Extra info for British Fiction and the Cold War
Once the Red Army is established, Page-Gorman is sent to a gulag and a Soviet general is installed as dictator of the ‘British People’s Republic’, now a puppetstate ‘comparable to the Kadar régime in Hungary’ (241). The portrait of a vanquished nation contains a range of right-wing warnings: against a Labour government, against a defence policy which diverges from US-led containment and against a radicalised youth susceptible to the kind of state propaganda that Orwell denounced in Nineteen Eighty-Four.
53 The second reason for the attractiveness of Nineteen Eighty-Four lay in its overt attack on fellow-travellers. 54 In the novel, ‘Airstrip One’, as Britain is now called, may be geographically distinct from Russian-held Eurasia, but its subordinate position within a larger power bloc gives the native leadership, who cooperate with its foreign masters, the air of a fifth column. 55 Despite this, the propagandists’ appropriation of Nineteen Eighty-Four for the free-world cause remained problematic, demanding that readers overlook the author’s distinction between socialism and authoritarian Marxism, and also overlook the novel’s guarded optimism.
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). The rift deepens over a SOE operative’s memoirs of service amongst the Yugoslav Partisans, which includes detail of their persecution of royalists and dissident communists. Craggs is now opposed to what may appear an attack on the left and Quiggan, despite appreciating the Labour government’s need to further relations with Tito’s Yugoslavia, urges publication ‘because it will sell’, with even Craggs having enough ‘commercial shrewdness’ to understand his point (180, 126).
British Fiction and the Cold War by A. Hammond