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Extra info for Christopher Caudwell: Towards A Dialectical Theory Of Literature

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By the time the 'Caudwell Discussion' was initiated in the Modern Quarterly (the Party's intellectual journal) he had been dead nearly fifteen years, the victim of a much more concrete struggle in Spain. In December 1936 his Party's local branch had collected enough money to buy an ambulance for the Republican government and Caudwell had volunteered to drive it out to Spain. He enlisted in the International Brigade and volunteered for action at the front as soon as he reached Spain, to the despair of his brother Theo who tried to persuade the Party's General Secretary, Harry Pollitt, that he should be recalled immediately.

However, on 12 February the British Battalion was called into action at Jarama River, outside Madrid, and Caudwell died on the first day of combat. His comrades were never able to find his body but he left behind a legacy of intellectual work which represents, in E. P. Thompson's words, 'the most heroic effort of any British Marxist to think his own intellectual time'. 63 2 Caudwell' s Functionalist Theory of Art 1. INTRODUCTION As with any 'text', Caudwell' s theory of art has its own history, but perhaps it is rather unusual in the degree of transparency which it displays, so that one can trace his intellectual roots in a way which is not always possible with other writers.

This is how poetry grows out of the economic life of a tribe, and how illusion grows out of reality. 23 Caudwell builds on Harrison's idea that ritual gives expression to the individual's hopes for the future in his/her desire that 'something should happen'. But, whereas the author of Andent Art and Ritual tends to concentrate on art as an emotional safety-valve, a release for pent-up inhibitions and desires, Caudwell feels that it actually performs a much more concrete practical function. Harrison draws too direct a dichotomy between emotion and social practice in her assertion that 'ritual .

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