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Progressive Heritage

The Evolution of a Politically Radical Literary Tradition in Canada

By James Doyle
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Paperback : 9780889203976, 330 pages, April 2002
Ebook (PDF) : 9780889208292, 330 pages, January 2006

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Progressive Heritage: The Evolution of a Politically Radical Literary Tradition in Canada, by James Doyle
Chapter 1: The Progressive Heritage in Canadian Literature: Beginnings to 1900
Chapter 2: Antecedents and Alternatives to Bolshevism
Chapter 3: The 1920s: Communists and Fellow Travellers
Chapter 4: The 1930s: Socialist and Other Realisms
Chapter 5: The 1930s: Progressive Drama, Poetry and Non-Fiction
Chapter 6: The 1940s: War and Post-War
Chapter 7: The 1950s: Post-War to Cold War
Chapter 8: After Stalinism: Decline and Achievement
Chapter 9: The New Left
List of Works Cited


Most critics and literary historians have ignored Marxist-inspired creative literature in Canada, or dismissed it as an ephemeral phenomenon of the 1930s. Research reveals, however, that from the 1920s onward Canadian creative writers influenced by Marxist ideas have produced a quantitatively substantial and artistically significant body of poetry, drama, fiction, and non-fiction.
This book traces historically and evaluates critically this tradition, with particular emphasis on writers who were associated with, or sympathetic to, the Communist Party of Canada. After two chapters surveying the work of anti-capitalist writers of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the book concentrates on the development of Marxist-inspired writing from the 1920s to the end of the twentieth century.
Besides devoting attention to both social and theoretical backgrounds, this study provides critical commentary on work by prominent writers who spent part of their literary careers as Communist Party members, including Dorothy Livesay, Patrick Anderson, Milton Acorn, and George Ryga, as well as less well known but more fervent Communists such as Margaret Fairley, Dyson Carter, Joe Wallace, Stanley Ryerson, and Jean-Jules Richard. Although primarily concerned with the older generation of Marxists who flourished between the 1920s and the 1970s, the book also includes a chapter on the post-1970s “New Left.”


The book is... eye-opening. Progressive Heritage presents a broad-ranging coverage of literary radicalism that establishes the field as undeniably present in Canadian writing....Progressive Heritage is thus a long overdue book.

- American Review of Canadian Studies, Spring 2004, 2004 September