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Illusion and Reality: A Study of the Sources of Poetry

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ILLUSION AND REALITY A STUDY OF THE SOURCES OF POETRY By CHRISTOPHER CAUDWELL CONTENTS BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE INTRODUCTION THE BIRTH OF POETRY THE DEATH OF MYTHOLOGY THE INVOLVMENT OF MODERN POETRY ENGLISH POETS: I PRIMITIVE ACCUMULATION II THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION III DECLINE OF CAPITALISM THE WORLD THE PHANTASY POETRYS DREAMWORK THE ARTS THE FUTURE OF POETRY..... BIBLIOGRAPH ILLUSION AND REALITY A STUDY OF THE SOURCES OF POETRY By CHRISTOPHER CAUDWELL CONTENTS BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE INTRODUCTION THE BIRTH OF POETRY THE DEATH OF MYTHOLOGY THE INVOLVMENT OF MODERN POETRY ENGLISH POETS: I PRIMITIVE ACCUMULATION II THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION III DECLINE OF CAPITALISM THE WORLD THE PHANTASY POETRYS DREAMWORK THE ARTS THE FUTURE OF POETRY..... BIBLIOGRAPHY INDEX BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE THIS is one of the great books of our time. It is not easy reading. It is a book to be studied and annotated and returned to again and again. The reader will then find that, however often he takes it up, it will always give him fresh food for thought. The author, Christopher St. John Sprigg, was born in Putney on October 20, 1907. He was educated at the Benedictine school at Ealing. He left school at sixteen and a half and worked for three years as a reporter on the Yorkshire Observer. Then he returned to London and joined a firm of aeronautical publishers, first as editor and later as a director. He invented an infinitely variable gear, the designs for which were published in the Automobile Engineer. They attracted a good deal of attention from experts. He published five textbooks on aero nautics, seven detective novels, and some poems and short stories. All this before he was twentyfive. In May, 1935, under the name of Christopher Caudwell, he published his first serious novel, This My Hand. It shows that lie had made a close study of psychology, but he had not yet succeeded in relating his knowledge to life. At the end of 1934 he had come across some of the Marxist classics, and the following summer he spent in Cornwall immersed in the works of Marx, Engcls, and Lenin, Shortly after his return to London he finished the first draft of Illusion and Reality. Then, in December, he took lodgings in Poplar and later joined the Poplar Branch of the Communist Party. Many of his Poplar comrades were dockers, almost aggressively proletarian, and a little suspicious at first of the,quiet, well spoken young man who wrote books for a living out before long he was accepted as one of themselves, doing his share of whatever had to be done. A few months after joining the Party he went over to Paris to get a firsthand experience of the Popular Front and he came back with renewed energy and enthusiasm. Besides continuing to write novels for a living, he rewrote Illusion and Reality, completed . the essays published subsequently as Studies in a Dying Culture, and began The. Crisis in Physics. He worked to the clock. After spending the day at his typewriter, he would leave the house at five and go out to the Branch to speak at an openair meeting, or sell the Daily Worker at the corner of Crisp Street Market. . Meanwhile, the Spanish Civil War had broken out. The Poplar Branch threw itself into the campaign, with Caudwell as one of the leading spirits. By November they had raised enough money to buy an ambulance, and Caudwell was chosen to drive it across France.


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ILLUSION AND REALITY A STUDY OF THE SOURCES OF POETRY By CHRISTOPHER CAUDWELL CONTENTS BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE INTRODUCTION THE BIRTH OF POETRY THE DEATH OF MYTHOLOGY THE INVOLVMENT OF MODERN POETRY ENGLISH POETS: I PRIMITIVE ACCUMULATION II THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION III DECLINE OF CAPITALISM THE WORLD THE PHANTASY POETRYS DREAMWORK THE ARTS THE FUTURE OF POETRY..... BIBLIOGRAPH ILLUSION AND REALITY A STUDY OF THE SOURCES OF POETRY By CHRISTOPHER CAUDWELL CONTENTS BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE INTRODUCTION THE BIRTH OF POETRY THE DEATH OF MYTHOLOGY THE INVOLVMENT OF MODERN POETRY ENGLISH POETS: I PRIMITIVE ACCUMULATION II THE INDUSTRIAL REVOLUTION III DECLINE OF CAPITALISM THE WORLD THE PHANTASY POETRYS DREAMWORK THE ARTS THE FUTURE OF POETRY..... BIBLIOGRAPHY INDEX BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE THIS is one of the great books of our time. It is not easy reading. It is a book to be studied and annotated and returned to again and again. The reader will then find that, however often he takes it up, it will always give him fresh food for thought. The author, Christopher St. John Sprigg, was born in Putney on October 20, 1907. He was educated at the Benedictine school at Ealing. He left school at sixteen and a half and worked for three years as a reporter on the Yorkshire Observer. Then he returned to London and joined a firm of aeronautical publishers, first as editor and later as a director. He invented an infinitely variable gear, the designs for which were published in the Automobile Engineer. They attracted a good deal of attention from experts. He published five textbooks on aero nautics, seven detective novels, and some poems and short stories. All this before he was twentyfive. In May, 1935, under the name of Christopher Caudwell, he published his first serious novel, This My Hand. It shows that lie had made a close study of psychology, but he had not yet succeeded in relating his knowledge to life. At the end of 1934 he had come across some of the Marxist classics, and the following summer he spent in Cornwall immersed in the works of Marx, Engcls, and Lenin, Shortly after his return to London he finished the first draft of Illusion and Reality. Then, in December, he took lodgings in Poplar and later joined the Poplar Branch of the Communist Party. Many of his Poplar comrades were dockers, almost aggressively proletarian, and a little suspicious at first of the,quiet, well spoken young man who wrote books for a living out before long he was accepted as one of themselves, doing his share of whatever had to be done. A few months after joining the Party he went over to Paris to get a firsthand experience of the Popular Front and he came back with renewed energy and enthusiasm. Besides continuing to write novels for a living, he rewrote Illusion and Reality, completed . the essays published subsequently as Studies in a Dying Culture, and began The. Crisis in Physics. He worked to the clock. After spending the day at his typewriter, he would leave the house at five and go out to the Branch to speak at an openair meeting, or sell the Daily Worker at the corner of Crisp Street Market. . Meanwhile, the Spanish Civil War had broken out. The Poplar Branch threw itself into the campaign, with Caudwell as one of the leading spirits. By November they had raised enough money to buy an ambulance, and Caudwell was chosen to drive it across France.

51 review for Illusion and Reality: A Study of the Sources of Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Brian

    The story behind this book is perhaps more interesting than the book itself. It was published posthumously under the pseudonym used by the author, whose actual name was Christoper St. John Sprigg, and who died fighting in the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. Caudwell/Sprigg was a staunch communist, who was widely read, especially in the field of psychology. He brings insights from various psychological theories, especially Freud and Jung (of whom he is extremely critical), and The story behind this book is perhaps more interesting than the book itself. It was published posthumously under the pseudonym used by the author, whose actual name was Christoper St. John Sprigg, and who died fighting in the International Brigade during the Spanish Civil War. Caudwell/Sprigg was a staunch communist, who was widely read, especially in the field of psychology. He brings insights from various psychological theories, especially Freud and Jung (of whom he is extremely critical), and the perspective of his hyper-Marxist political philosophy to bear upon the origins of and social role of poetry. If you can keep an open mind, his analysis will offer new ways to think about poetry--its process and importance--but you will have to be patient as you wade through the polemics. A taste: "In a poem the affects adhere directly to the associations of the worlds [the world of objective reality and the subjective world described by the poet]. The poet has to take care that the reader's mind does not go out behind the words into the external reality they describe before receiving the affects." Caudwell/Sprigg sees the value of poetry in being able to express an "I" common to all people's affective experience, and bemoans what he sees as the "bourgeois" failing of poetry (and art in general) of his time that expresses a solitary, individualist "I" (which he sees as an "escapist" attitude from the problems of capitalist society). On the last page: "Communist poetry will be complete, because it will be man [sic] conscious of his own necessity as well as that of outer reality."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Christy

    A masterpiece, and the kind of comprehensive work that can't even be attempted today. A social anthropology of poetics, by a young British Marxist, clearly a genius, who died at 29 fighting in the Spanish Civil War. The fundamental insight, that poetry, like all communication, derives from our social nature, is used to build a theory of poetics that is rational, dialectical and beautiful--and may even be true. But Caudwell has found no place in the US academy that I know of, which is a shame. Th A masterpiece, and the kind of comprehensive work that can't even be attempted today. A social anthropology of poetics, by a young British Marxist, clearly a genius, who died at 29 fighting in the Spanish Civil War. The fundamental insight, that poetry, like all communication, derives from our social nature, is used to build a theory of poetics that is rational, dialectical and beautiful--and may even be true. But Caudwell has found no place in the US academy that I know of, which is a shame. The idea that only a certain type of increasingly rarefied expertise permits you to read or write literary theory is completely given the lie by this book. Caudwell, as did many Marxists of his generation, foresaw the imminent end of capitalism, and that is his only fundamental mistake (that, and perhaps the industrialist vision that our relationship with Nature is necessarily one of struggle, rather than collaboration). His analysis of the sterility and factitiousness of late bourgeois culture is still dead on. What's tragic is how much longer we seem to be doomed to accept it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    sologdin

    a bit vulgar, perhaps, in its facile deployment of base/superstructure metaphor, and in its Freudian assumptions. author died fighting fascists in the Spanish civil war, which personal sacrifice made him something of a rockstar despite perhaps an implicit Stalinism.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Renie

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    Suda

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    Joseph Navarro

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    David Tritschler

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    TIFFANY ANDERSON

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    Georgina Koutrouditsou

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    Megan

  51. 4 out of 5

    Adam

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