Writers and the Golden Age by Allan Massie

Allan Massie

Writers and the Golden Age


I wasn’t listening carefully to the discussion on Radio 5 because I was mucking out the stable at the time. So I never learned who the speakers were. But the gist of the argument seemed to be why so much art – all art? – was left-wing. Were there, someone asked, any right-wing writers? A few novelists were tentatively proposed (Iris Murdoch, Evelyn Waugh, Anthony Powell), but the consensus was that art was left-wing because it was, first of all, protest, and secondly (I think) a criticism of society and the way we live now.

Well, yes, up to a point, and so forth. But the matter is surely more complicated. Orwell, a man of the Left, recognised this. Time and again he asked in his essays how it was that so many of the great modernist writers were attracted to right-wing politics, even to

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