This is a somewhat unusual review — more a commentary on some of the major themes and issues posed by this long and intense interrogation of Raymond Williams’s work than, in any strict sense, a critical review of Politics and Letters. There are several reasons for adopting this approach. First, the form of the book invites it. Readers will know that it is in the form of a series of extended interviews conducted with him by Perry Anderson, Anthony Barnett and Francis Mulhern on behalf of the New Left Review (NLR) editorial board. I comment on the success of this form below. But here I simply note that the interrogative form, when well done, invites the reader to become involved in what is in any case a dialogue — with Raymond Williams, but even more importantly, with his work. The second reason is that my own work in cultural studies has so often followed, and in many instances been guided by, those key points which mark out Williams’s own development, that I feel the strictly objective and external critical eye would be inappropriate here. The third reason is closely related to that. It is simply the fact that, apart from the influences which have naturally arisen in the course of working in closely cognate areas, there are several strategic points at which our careers have intersected.
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