The Novels That Inspired Class War

What role does literature play in revolution? If the question seems bizarre to you and the answer obvious, you’re not alone.

Some of the most important revolutionaries in history have turned to literature in times of crisis. Mao Zedong started writing poetry during the Chinese Red Army’s retreat. Leon Trotsky, founder of the Russian Red Army, having just won the Russian Civil War, turned his mind to the question of literature in a communist society. And Friedrich Engels wrote that he had learned more from the novelist Honoré de Balzac than from any historian, economist or statistician.

In this episode of Novara FM, Juliet Jacques and Nihal El-Aasar talk to Mark Steven about literature and the struggle for a better world. His book Class War: A Literary History is available from Verso Books.

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