• Christopher Pawling


Some years ago John Mander asked the question, ‘Must we burn Auden?’2 and it seems that the same question is now being asked of Christopher Caudwell. For Terry Eagleton Caudwell highlights all that is ‘vulgar’, ‘speculative’ and ‘erratic’ in the English Marxist criticism of the 1930s. ‘Insulated from much of Europe, intellectually isolated even within his own society, permeated by Stalinism and idealism, bereft of a “theory of superstructures”’,3 Caudwell was bound to fail in his ‘historically hopeless’ attempt to fashion a Marxist aesthetic. His work may contain one or two ‘random insights’, but in general it serves as a reminder of the provincial and shallow nature of a Marxism which was ‘the passing product of a political conjuncture, and developed no serious intellectual dimension to it at the time’.4 Thus Eagleton, and those who share his outlook, would see little of positive value in Caudwell’s writings, implying that the sooner he is placed on the funeral pyre of history the better.


Marxist Theory Shallow Nature Marxist Criticism Marxist Tradition Marxist Thought 
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© Christopher Pawling 1989

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  • Christopher Pawling

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