Black and white and red all over: Left-wing reads
Socialist fiction, feminist theory, even Marxist tracts – thanks to the recession, the classic left-wing reads of yesteryear are back in vogue. But which titles really deliver power to the people? Andy McSmith finds out
Monday 11 May 2009
It's a socialist classic, written almost a century ago, by an author who was completely unknown then, and about whom we know little enough now. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists first appeared in 1910 under the pseudonym Robert Tressell, three years after its writer, Robert Noonan, had died in obscurity.
Noonan himself had worked as a housepainter, and his novel records the lives of working men, who are 'philanthropists' because they toil all hours to make their employers rich. The book is overtly political, and its readership has always been heavily left wing and working class.
It's hardly a pacey, thrill-a-minute page-turner. And yet, this year, it has become an unlikely publishing sensation. There are at least six different editions of the book, and an audio CD, still on sale. One edition alone, the 2004 Penguin Classics, stands proud at 175 on the Amazon bestseller list.
Sales picked up suddenly last year after the BBC turned the book into a radio series featuring a troop of popular comedians including Bill Bailey, Timothy Spall, Paul Whitehouse, Johnny Vegas and John Prescott (yes, that John Prescott). That may, in part, account for the spike in popularity. But the book's revival is also a sign that readers, disillusioned with a capitalist system rocked by recession, are increasingly in the mood to revisit the landmark texts of left-wing literature.
So which other socialist classics might deserve rediscovery? Click the image to the right for a shortlist of red-tinged reads - some of which deserve to be re-read in 2009, and a few perhaps best forgotten...
Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challengeTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
The Jump 2015 line-up: Joey Essex, Mike Tindall, Jodie Kidd and co take to the slopes
Heavy metal producer's corpse to be mutilated by models as per his dying wish
Game of Thrones, season 5: Grey Worm actor Jacob Anderson is all for more male nudity – as long as he can keep his clothes on
Thrill of the chaste: The truth about Gandhi's sex life
Martin Scorsese 'in shock' after death on set of new film Silence
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures