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Left Book Club, The

Left Book Club News, Days of Contempt, Forward from Liberalism, A. R. P

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: Mary Lavin Biography to Light Shining in Buckinghamshire

a scheme for the dissemination of politically educative literature begun in 1936 by the publisher Victor Gollancz in collaboration with Harold Laski and John Strachey. Members received books and the journal Left Book Club News on a monthly basis. While the doctrinaire character of the majority of the publications was apparent, all shades of opinion on the political left were represented and the intellectual standard was often high. Titles included Days of Contempt (1936) by André Malraux, Stephen Spender's Forward from Liberalism (1937), J. B. S. Haldane's A. R. P. (1938), Leonard Woolf's Barbarians at the Gate (1939), and Arthur Koestler's Scum of the Earth (1941); George Orwell's The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) was criticized by Gollancz in his foreword for its ambivalent attitude to the working classes and was reissued in an abridged form. By 1939 the Club had over 56,000 subscribers and some 1,500 affiliated ‘left discussion groups’ throughout Britain; several major rallies were held at the Albert Hall. The Nazi–Soviet Pact and the outbreak of war in 1939 initiated a rapid decline in membership; G. D. H. Cole's The Meaning of Marxism (1948) was the last of its publications.

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