In this text, Farrell challenges the leading radical literary critics of the 1930s, such as Michael Gold and Granville Hicks, reconsidering issues including the relative autonomy of literature from society and economics; the role of tradition in literary creation; the relation of literature to propaganda; and the nature of aesthetic value.
The duality of literature; impressionism; humanism; left-wing dualism; the literature of the past in the present; Marx on the relative aesthetic validity of literature; tradition in thought; the categories of "bourgeois" and "proletarian"; individualism and the class struggle; literature and propaganda; growth and decay in literature.
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