Red Britain: The Russian Revolution in Mid-Century Culture

ISBN : 9780198817710

Matthew Taunton
304 ページ
135 x 216 mm

Red Britain sets out a provocative rethinking of the cultural politics of mid-century Britain by drawing attention to the extent, diversity, and longevity of the cultural effects of the Russian Revolution. Drawing on new archival research and historical scholarship, this book explores the conceptual, discursive, and formal reverberations of the Bolshevik Revolution in British literature and culture. It provides new insight into canonical writers including Doris Lessing, George Orwell, Dorothy Richardson, H.G Wells, and Raymond Williams, as well bringing to attention a cast of less-studied writers, intellectuals, journalists, and visitors to the Soviet Union. Red Britain shows that the cultural resonances of the Russian Revolution are more far-reaching and various than has previously been acknowledged. Each of the five chapters takes as its subject one particular problem or debate, and investigates the ways in which it was politicised as a result of the Russian Revolution and the subsequent development of the Soviet state. The chapters focus on the idea of the future; numbers and arithmetic; law and justice; debates around agriculture and landowning; and finally orality, literacy, and religion. In all of these spheres, Red Britain shows how the medievalist, romantic, oral, pastoral, anarchic, and ethical emphases of English socialism clashed with, and were sometimes overwritten by, futurist, utilitarian, literate, urban, statist, and economistic ideas associated with the Bolshevik Revolution.


1 The Radiant Future
2 Two and Two Make Five
3 Crime and Punishment
4 Homestead versus Kolschoz
5 The Compensations of Illiteracy


Matthew Taunton is a Senior Lecturer in Literature at University of East Anglia. He is the author of Fictions of the City: Class, Culture and Mass Housing in London and Paris (Palgrave, 2009). He has also published articles and book chapters on modern literature and politics, and on cities. With Benjamin Kohlmann, he co-edited A History of 1930s British Literature (Cambridge UP, 2018), as well as a special issue of Literature & History called Literatures of Anti-Communism (2015). He is deputy editor of Critical Quarterly.