To Hell with Culture contains thirteen essays on anarchism and literature, with a focus on twentieth-century fiction, and on writers who have been neglected because of their non-canonical or regional status.
Alex Comfort – the author of The Joy of Sex
, but also a novelist and poet – provides a series
of intriguing parallels to Aldous Huxley in a comparative essay
by David Goodway. Fiction of the British regions (or nations)
also furnishes useful contemporary material. In his essay "Anti-authoritarianism
in James Kelman's fiction", H. Gustav Klaus sees an anarchist
spirit not just in the form of Kelman's writing but also in
its themes: the ideological and repressive functions of educational,
legal, medical and other authorities. James Leslie Mitchell,
the author of the modernist Scottish classic A Scots Quair
is given a respite from nationalist criticism in William K.
Malcolm's "Art for Politics' Sake: The Sardonic Principle of
James Leslie Mitchell (Lewis Grassic Gibbon)". Malcolm finds
in Mitchell's work a radical suspicion of the writer's transfiguration
of a fallen commonplace reality. Such a sardonic attitude to
a high culture that supposedly redeems the horrors of society
informs the anarchist cry of Herbert Read (and Eric Gill) taken
as the volume's title: "To Hell with Culture!". Other essays
deal with anarchism in relation to Welsh fiction, the Spanish
Civil War, and the East End of London, and with a range of authors,
including G. K. Chesterton, Joseph Conrad, John Cowper Powys,
Herbert Read, Mark Ravenhill and Enda Walsh.
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