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Writers in arms and the ’just war’ : literary activism, nation, and heroism in "Left Review" Haapamaki, Michele Allyson

Abstract

This thesis explores 1930s Leftist intellectuals in Britain and the fashioning of the Just War through involvement with the Republican cause in Spain. The primary consideration is how Leftists attempted to reconcile the anti-heroic legacy of the Great War with the need to re-create a heroic legend—both to oppose Fascism and to support revolutionary politics. In particular, the thesis focuses on the London-based “Left Review”, the literary journal of the Communist Writers' International published from 1934-38, which had several contributors join the Republican militias and International Brigades. The eulogies and tributes to intellectual warriors who had been a part of the “Left Review” community, and who died on the Front in Spain, illustrate the recreation of an acceptable Leftist warrior hero and the emergence of a heroic myth. The contradictions between ideological pacifism and the necessity of opposing Fascism were reflected in the debates conducted within this political and literary milieu. An analysis of these contradictions, and the heroic portrayal of the armed intellectual in “Left Review”, illuminates how Leftist intellectuals sought to discover and justify a form of military resistance that was consistent with their ideological beliefs. In addition to addressing the particular ideals of British masculinity that were reflected in intellectual discourse on Spain, attention within the thesis is also paid to how the portrayal of the Just War would contribute to Leftist engagement in the Second World War and the notion of the civilian participant in the "People's War."

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