Meet Me on the Barricades is Harrison's most experimental work. The novel includes a series of fantasy sequences that culminate in a scene heavily indebted to the Nighttown episode in James Joyce's Ulysses (the novel was published a year before James Thurber's better-known short story, "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty"). The novel is also Harrison's only foray into satire-an especially unexpected turn given that the Spanish Civil War literary canon, and particularly works of literature written in the midst of the war, tend towards earnestness rather than irony. Harrison's novel is thus a unique book, significant for its self-consciousness as a modernist novel and as a political document. Out of print since its single publication run in 1938, this critical edition recovers Harrison's important commentary on the heated "culture wars" of the 1930s and the Spanish Civil War. With an original critical introduction and extensive textual and editorial notes, this edition draws on original archival research to situate the novel within the modernist and leftist North American canons.
Meet Me on the Barricades is a densely allusive text that layers global politics, revolutionary theory, classical music, literary theory, world history, and anti-Stalinism, as well as emergent biological discourses about sex. It recounts a few days in the life of P. Herbert Simpson, a middle-aged, weak-hearted oboist with the New York Symphony Orchestra and leftist fellow traveller. Simpson is subject to wild hallucinations that are sometimes daydreams, sometimes drunken delirium, and on occasion intricate dreams while asleep. He imagines escaping his unrewarding marriage with a prudish, domineering wife through a passionate fantasy of a Russian girlfriend, and escaping his day job in the symphony to fight on the front lines of the Spanish Civil War.
Charles Yale Harrison (1898-1954) was an author, activist, and editor. Harrison born in Philadelphia and raised in a Jewish family in Montreal. He served in World War One, an experience that would influence much of his subsequent fiction. A dedicated fellow traveller, Harrison moved from Montreal to New York in the 1920s, where he worked on the staff of the Communist Party of America (CPUSA)-led magazine New Masses alongside outspoken literary critics of proletarian literature such as Mike Gold. He was also a founding member of one of a series of John Reed Clubs, established in 1929 in an attempt to create a large forum for leftist writers. Drawing on his own service in the First World War, he published Generals Die in Bed (1930), a scathingly anti-war novel about the horrors of trench warfare. The novel was well received, and was followed by the novels A Child is Born (1931), There are Victories (1933), Meet Me on the Barricades (1938), and Nobody's Fool (1948). He also authored a biography of the American socialist lawyer Clarence Darrow (1931), and the self-help book Thank God For My Heart Attack (1949). Bart Vautour is Assistant Professor in the Department of English at Dalhousie University. His research examines Canadian cultural production of the 20th century with a focus on modernism, politics, poetics, and editing. Emily Robins Sharpe is Assistant Professor of global Anglophone and postcolonial literatures in the English Department at Keene State College in Keene, New Hampshire, and affiliate faculty of the Women's and Gender Studies Department and the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Department.