American Writers and Radical Politics, 1900-39: Equivocal by Eric Homberger

By Eric Homberger

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39 Avis's inner evolution and betrayal of the revolution carries within itself in an inverted form London's dismay at the betrayal of the Socialist Party, and its inner evolution towards revisionism. The Iron Heel, so widely regarded as an example of left-wing socialist propaganda, is more a monument to his despair at the opportunism of American socialism. London had begun to think about a 'Novel on Literary Struggles' as early as 1902 or 1903. 40 Various manuscript notes and drafts suggest that he returned to the project intermittently over the next five or six years.

Oh, it is degrading! It is not nice! ' Both Gertrude and Ruth reflect the taste prevalent among the editors of magazines: his manuscripts, with their rough realism, are unpublishable. 'He was puzzled by countless short stories', wrote London, written lightly and cleverly ... but without vitality or reality. Life was so strange and wonderful, filled with immensity of problems, of dreams, and of heroic toils, and yet these stories dealt only with the commonplaces oflife. He felt the stress and strain oflife, its fevers and sweats and wild insurgencies - surely this was the stuff to write about!

In London's opinion, the Social Gospel was merely so much hot air unless it issued out in such a transformation. The story of the conversions of the professor, his daughter and the bishop is finished by the twelfth chapter. In the harsher, more pessimistic political climate 22 American Writers and Radical Politics, 1900-39 of The Iron Heel there was no happy ending awaiting the convert to socialism, only ridicule, hardship and persecution. The second half of the novel allows Avis Cunningham to step to centre stage.

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