Yesterday the struggle: ‘Outside the Whale’ and the fight for the 1930s

Scott Hamilton

in The Crisis of Theory

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2011 | ISBN: 9780719084355
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702338 | DOI:
Yesterday the struggle: ‘Outside the Whale’ and the fight for the 1930s

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In ‘Outside the Whale’, the text he would place at the beginning of The Poverty of Theory and Other Essays, Edward Palmer Thompson sets out to rescue the W. H. Auden of Spain and his 1930s comrades from the condescension of both left and right. Thompson always looked back on 1956 as a crucial year in his political life. He made three contributions to the debate on commitment in Universities and Left Review. In ‘Outside the Whale’, Thompson struggles to wrestle the ‘high ground’ of the 1930s from both the Natopolitans of Britain's literary establishment and the young men and women around Universities and Left Review. Then, it notes that Thompson simplifies the origins and themes of the vast amount of writing Auden's writing before Spain. Because he failed to understand their lives, Thompson was doomed to repeat some of the mistakes of Auden and George Orwell.

Keywords: Outside the Whale; Edward Palmer Thompson; W. H. Auden; George Orwell; Britain; Universities and Left Review; Spain

Chapter.  17609 words. 

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