Eastward, ho!

The dream of a red Eurasia
by
April 2022, no. 441
Buy this book

Eurasia without Borders: The dream of a leftist literary commons 1919–1943 by Katerina Clark

Harvard University Press, US$39.95 hb, 458 pp

Eastward, ho!

The dream of a red Eurasia
by
April 2022, no. 441
Soviet writers in Berlin on 21 May 1952 to take part in the 3rd German Writers' Congress. From left to right: Stepan Stschipatschew, Nazim Hikmet and Prof. Myasnikov (photograph via Wikimedia Commons)
Soviet writers in Berlin on 21 May 1952 to take part in the 3rd German Writers' Congress. From left to right: Stepan Stschipatschew, Nazim Hikmet and Prof. Myasnikov (photograph via Wikimedia Commons)

In the time before festivals, writers used to attend congresses to perform their role as ‘the unacknowledged legislators of the world’ in Shelley’s fine phrase. A who’s who of literary leftists and liberals gathered in Paris for the First International Congress of  Writers for the Defense of Culture in 1935, in solidarity against the rise of fascism across Europe. Nettie Palmer was a member of the Australian delegation. She was pleased to spend time there with her younger compatriot Christina Stead, who was living in London. Both writers were internationalists, but at different points on a spectrum. Stead showed her communist credentials by urging fellow writers to ‘enter the political arena’. Palmer had trouble squaring this with Stead’s interest in fashion. Stead was a ‘lightly-elegant young woman’ who spoke in ‘a voice without an accent … slightly coloured by her … pan-European years’, Palmer wrote. Hazel Rowley wonderfully evokes the Paris Congress in her 1993 biography of Stead, touching on what was happening behind the scenes as the dashing Soviet-aligned British communist Ralph Fox set the novelist’s imagination on fire.

Nicholas Jose reviews 'Eurasia without Borders: The dream of a leftist literary commons 1919–1943' by Katerina Clark

Eurasia without Borders: The dream of a leftist literary commons 1919–1943

by Katerina Clark

Harvard University Press, US$39.95 hb, 458 pp

Buy this book

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Comment (1)

  • Fascinating review. You might also ask ‘Where is South-East Asia?’
    Posted by Marian Quartly
    01 April 2022

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