The early fiction of John Sommerfield

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This article, which concentrates on the early work of the left-wing writer John Sommerfield, seeks to establish a firmer basis for his importance not only as a Communist novelist, but as a figure whose career illustrates continuities between strands of modernist and socialist writing, usually understood as separate and incompatible. It first reads Sommerfield’s first novel, They Die Young, as an apprentice piece that tests several distinctly “modern” approaches to literary narrative before signaling his intention to attempt a new hybrid mode of socialist literary experiment. It then reappraises the collective novel May Day in light of the increasing attention of modernist studies to political engagement and emergent mass media. Finally, it insists on the value of Sommerfield’s wartime writing, which offers a startling literary perspective on both Spanish Civil War combat and the experience of logistical operations during the World War II.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-12
Number of pages12
JournalOxford Handbooks Online — Scholarly Research Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • John Sommerfield
  • Fiction
  • War
  • Modernism
  • They Die Young
  • The Death of Christopher
  • May Day
  • George Orwell
  • Volunteer in Spain


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