Below are the bibliography contents and the beginning of the listing primarily of books of political, social and cultural criticism on imaginative literature, the novel in particular – some landmarks and assorted works, mainly American and English – a truncated and otherwise incomplete chronology extending in its entirety from the 1800s to today. A few texts on novel form and technique are also included. The list here covers the time period up 1929. Preceding that list are select works from the full list. See links for excerpts. See here for more information about the bibliography and excerpts. See “Bibliographies, Particular” for a breakdown of the general bibliography into listings organized by title and genre.

   1800s to 1929 (this page)
   1800s-2003 (entire)


1858        Hippolyte Taine                             Balzac: A Critical Study

~1860      C. A. Sainte-Beuve                         Literary Criticism of Sainte-Beuve [a collection first published in 1971; edited and translated by E. R. Marks]

1863       Hippolyte Taine                          History of English Literature

1864        Matthew Arnold                             Essays Literary and Critical [published in periodicals, 1863-1864] [1906 edition

1864       Victor Hugo                                    William Shakespeare

1875        Leslie Stephen                               Hours in a Library

    1883      William Morris     On Art And Socialism [essays, 1877-1896; collected 1999] [“Art under Plutocracy”…]

1891        William Dean Howells                   Criticism and Fiction

1896        John Colin Dunlop                       History of Prose Fiction; Volumes I and II [revised by Henry Wilson, 1970]

1896        George Saintsbury                        A History of Nineteenth Century Literature

1897        Arlo Bates                                       Talks on the Study of Literature

1897        H. D. Traill                                      The New Fiction and Other Essays on Literary Subjects [reprint 1970]

1898        Leo Tolstoy                                    What Is Art? [and Essays on Art; published together, 1962]

1900        George Saintsbury                        A History of Criticism and Literary Taste in Europe: From the Earliest Texts to the Present Day [1902, 1904—Vols. 2 & 3]

1903        Frank Norris                                  The Responsibilities of the Novelist [“The Novel with a Purpose,” “The Need of a Literary Conscience”…]

1906        Arlo Bates                                       Talks on the Teaching of Literature

1908        George Saintsbury                        A History of English Prosody from the Twelfth Century to the Present Day

1914        Emma Goldman                             The Social Significance of the Modern Drama

1915        Upton Sinclair, Ed.                        The Cry for Justice: An Anthology of the Literature of Social Protest [updated 1996]

1918        W. L. George                                 Literary Chapters

1920        Randolph Bourne                         The History of a Literary Radical and Other Papers

1920        Georg Lukacs                                The Theory of the Novel: A Historico-philosophical Essay on the Forms of Great Epic Literature [“The Novel as Polemic”…]

1921        Percy Lubbock                               The Craft of Fiction

1923        D. H. Lawrence                              Studies in Classic American Literature

1924       Floyd Dell                                       Literature and the Machine Age

1924        Morris Edmund Speare                 The Political Novel: Its Development in England and America

1924        Leon Trotsky                                 Literature and Revolution [“Pre-revolutionary Art,” “Revolutionary and Socialist Art”…]

1924        Edith Wharton                               The Writing of Fiction

1925       V. F. Calverton                               The Newer Spirit: A Sociological Criticism of Literature

1925        Alain Locke, Ed.                            The New Negro: An Interpretation [“The New Negro,” “Negro Art and American,” “The Negro in American Literature”…]

1925        John Macy                                     The Story of the World’s Literature [revised, 1932]

1925        I. A. Richards                                 Principles of Literary Criticism [“Art, Play, and Civilisation”…]

1925       Upton Sinclair                                Mammonart

1925        Virginia Woolf                               The Common Reader: First Series [“Modern Fiction”…]

1926        W.E.B. DuBois                               The Oxford W.E.B DuBois Reader [1996] [1921-1926: “Negro Art,” “Negro Art and Literature,” “Criteria of Negro Art”…]

1926        Floyd Dell                                      Intellectual Vagabondage [reprinted, 1990]

1927        E. M. Forster                                  Aspects of the Novel

1927        Van Wyck Brooks, Ed., et al          The American Caravan: A Yearbook of American Literature

1927        Vernon Louis Parrington              Main Currents in American Thought: An Interpretation of American Literature from the Beginnings to 1920

1927       Upton Sinclair                                Money Writes

1928        Julien Benda                                  The Betrayal [Treason] of the Intellectuals [“The Modern Perfecting of Political Passions,” “Nature of Political Passions”…]

1928        Alfred Kreymborg, Ed., et al          The Second American Caravan: A Yearbook of American Literature

1928        Rebecca West                                The Strange Necessity: Essays and Reviews

1928        T. K. Whipple                                 Spokesmen [reprinted in 1963 with a foreword by Mark Schorer]




note: I agree with much but not everything I’ve chosen to excerpt. As far as the books as a whole go – as they seem to me – many are very good, plenty are solid, some are mixed, some are less insightful or unfortunate in part. On the whole, in my judgment, the books make some thoughtful and useful exploration of imaginative literature and its relation to society, individuals and social and political change.



Bibliography – 1800s to 2003            
Critical Excerpts – 1883 to 2003 
Quick Views    
Social and Political Novel  
Social and Political Literature  




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