This is a list 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. A few texts on novel form and technique are also included. See links for excerpts.


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]


1930       Ransom, Tate, Warren, et al     I’ll Take My Stand: The South and the Agrarian Tradition by Twelve Southerners

1931        Edmund Wilson                           Axel’s Castle: A Study in Imaginative Literature of 1870-1930

1932        V. F. Calverton                              The Liberation of American Literature [“The Puritan Myth,” “From Revolution to Reaction,” “…Nationalism,” “Liberation”…]

1932       Virginia Woolf                               The Second Common Reader [“How Should One Read a Book?”…]

1933       Granville Hicks                            The Great Tradition: An Interpretation of American Literature Since the Civil War

1934        John Dewey                                  Art as Experience [“Art and Civilization”…]

1934        Max Eastman                               Art and the Life of Action (With Other Essays) [“The Artist and the Social Engineer”…]

1934       Max Eastman                               Artists in Uniform: A Study of Literature and Bureaucratism [“The New American Literature,” “The Marxian Aesthetics”…]

1934       Henry James                                The Art of the Novel: Critical Prefaces

1935        Granville Hicks, Ed., et al           Proletarian Literature in the United States [“Introduction,” Joseph Freeman, “…Problems of Revolutionary Literature”…]

1936       T. S. Eliot                                      Essays Ancient and Modern [“Religion and Literature,” “Modern Education and the Classics”…]

1936       James T. Farrell                          A Note on Literary Criticism [“Literature and Propaganda,” “Left-Wing Dualism,” “Marx on the Relative Aesthetic”…]

1936       Allen Tate                                     Reactionary Essays

1937       Mary M. Colum                            From These Roots: The Ideas that Have Made Modern Literature [reprinted, 1967]

1937       Morton D. Zabel, Ed.                  Literary Opinion in America; Volumes I and II. [revised, 1962]

1937       Herbert Read                               Art and Society

1938        Edmund Wilson                           The Triple Thinkers [revised, 1948; corrected, 1963] [“The Politics of Flaubert,” “Historical Interpretation of Literature”…]

1939       Granville Hicks                            Figures of Transition: A Study of British Literature at the End of the 19th Century [“Socialism and William Morris”…]

1939        Bernard L. Smith                         Forces in American Criticism: A Study in the History of American Literary Thought [“The Rise of Critical Traditions”…]


1940        Roger Dataller                             The Plain Man and the Novel [“The Novel as Propaganda,” “The Historical Novel,” “The Social Novel”…]

1941        Joseph Warren Beach               American Fiction, 1920-1940 [“John Steinbeck: Art and Propaganda”…]

1941        Kenneth Burke                             The Philosophy of Literary Form: Studies in Symbolic Action [revised, 1973] [“The Nature of Art Under Capitalism”…]

1941       Van Wyck Brooks                         On Literature Today

1941       Sterling A. Brown, Ed., et al       The Negro Caravan: Writings by American Negroes [new introduction by Lester, 1969]

1941       Edmund Wilson                           The Wound and the Bow: Seven Studies in Literature [revised, 1952]

1942       Alfred Kazin                                   On Native Grounds: An Interpretation of Modern American Prose Literature [“Criticism at the Poles”…]

1943       Herbert Read                               The Politics of the Unpolitical

1943       Edmund Wilson, Ed.                   The Shock of Recognition: The Development of Literature in the United States Recorded by the Men Who Made It;

Volumes I and II [revised, 1955]

1946       Erich Auerbach                            Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature

1946       Alex Comfort                                 Art and Social Responsibility: Lectures on the Ideology of Romanticism

1946       George Orwell                             Dickens, Dali and Others

1946       George Orwell                             “Why I Write,” in A Collection of Essays, 1954

1946       Mark Schorer                               William Blake: The Politics of Vision

1947       E.B. Burgum                                 The Novel and the World’s Dilemma

1947       Engels and Marx                         Literature and Art: Selections from Their Writings

1947       Maxwell Geismar                        Writers in Crisis: The American Novel, 1925-1940

1947       Stanley Edgar Hyman                 The Armed Vision: A Study in the Methods of Modern Literary Criticism [revised, 1955] [“The Ideal Critic,” “The Actual Critic”…]

1947       Herbert Read                               The Grass Roots of Art: Lectures on Social Aspects of Art in an Industrial Age

1947       Herbert Read                               Education Through Art

1948       Walter Allen                                  Writers on Writing [“The Ends and Uses of Poetry,” “The Novelist’s Responsibility”…]

1948       Alex Comfort                                 The Novel and Our Time [“The Concept of Responsibility”…]

1948       F. R. Leavis                                   The Great Tradition: George Eliot, Henry James, Joseph Conrad

1948       Mark Schorer, Ed., et al             Criticism: The Foundations of Modern Literary Judgement

1949       Maxwell Geismar                        The Last of the Provincials: The American Novel, 1915-1925

1949       H. L. Mencken                             A Mencken Chrestomathy [Essays, 1916-1948] “The Critical Process,” etc.

1949       Edwin Muir                                   Essays on Literature and Society [Enlarged and Revised, 1965]

1949       Wellek and Warren                     Theory of Literature [“Literature and Society”…]


1950       Gilbert Highet                               The Art of Teaching [“Authors and Artists”…]

1950       Lionel Trilling                               The Liberal Imagination: Essays on Literature and Society [“The Meaning of a Literary Idea”…]

1952       Edmund Wilson                           A Literary Chronicle: 1920-1950

1952       Edmund Wilson                           The Shores of Light: A Literary Chronicle of the 1920s and 1930s [“Literary Class War,” “American Critics, Left and Right”…]

1953       M. H. Abrams                               The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition

1953       Isaiah Berlin                                 The Hedgehog and the Fox [Revised, 1978]

1953       Van Wyck Brooks                         The Writer in America

1953       Harold C. Gardiner, S.J.             Norms for the Novel [“Literature as a Moral Activity, …as Fundamentally Religious, …as Inspiration”…]

1953       Maxwell Geismar                        Rebels and Ancestors: The American Novel, 1890-1915 [“Jack London”…]

1953       Gilbert Highet                               Juvenal the Satirist

1954       Walter Allen                                  The English Novel: A Short Critical History

1955        James Baldwin                            Notes of a Native Son [“Everybody’s Protest Novel”…]

1955       Joseph L. Blotner                        The Political Novel

1956       J. M. Cohen                                  A History of Western Literature

1956       Frank O’Connor                          The Mirror in the Roadway: A Study of the Modern Novel

1956        Walter B. Rideout                        The Radical Novel in the United States, 1900-1954: Some Interrelations of Literature and Society [“Class War”…]

1957       Richard Chase                            The American Novel and Its Tradition [“Norris and Naturalism”…]

1957       Northrop Frye                               Anatomy of Criticism

1957       Granville Hicks, Ed.                    The Living Novel: A Symposium [“Ralph Ellison: Society, Morality, and the Novel”…]

1957        Irving Howe                                   Politics and the Novel [“The Idea of the Political Novel,” “Orwell: History as Nightmare”…]

1957       Wright Morris                                The Territory Ahead: Critical Interpretations in American Literature

1957       Philip Rahv, Ed.                           Literature in America: An Anthology of Literary Criticism

1957       Ian Watt                                         The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson, Fielding

1957       Rebecca West                             The Court and the Castle: A Study of the Interactions of Religious and Political Ideas in Imaginative Literature

1957        Wimsatt and Brooks                    Literary Criticism: A Short History [“The Real and the Social: Art as Propaganda”…]

1958       M. H. Abrams, Ed.                       Literature and Belief: English Institute Essays, 1957

1958       Malcolm Cowley, Ed.                 Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews, First Series

1958       Edmund Fuller                             Man in Modern Fiction: Some Minority Opinions on Contemporary American Writing

1958       Maxwell Geismar                        American Moderns: From Rebellion to Conformity [“Higher and Higher Criticism,” “The ‘End’ of Naturalism”…]

1959       Miriam Allott                                 Novelists on the Novel [“No Politics?” (Stendhal), “The Writer’s Responsibility” (G. Eliot), “Ethics of the Novel” (various)…]

1959       William R. Mueller                      The Prophetic Voice in Modern Fiction: Major Writings of Joyce, Camus, Kafka, Silone, Faulkner, Green


1960       Leslie A. Fiedler                           Love and Death in the American Novel [revised 1966]

1961       Daniel Aaron                                Writers on the Left

1961       Adler and Cain, Eds.                   Imaginative Literature I: From Homer to Shakespeare

1961       Wayne C. Booth                           The Rhetoric of Fiction

1961       Ihab Hassan                                 Radical Innocence: Studies in the Contemporary American Novel

1961       Mary McCarthy                            On the Contrary [“Politics and the Social Scene,” “The Fact in Fiction”…]

1961       Rubin and Moore, Eds.              The Idea of an American Novel

1962       Adler and Cain, Eds.                   Imaginative Literature II: From Cervantes to Dostoevsky

1962       Maxwell Geismar                        Henry James and the Jacobites

1962       Gregor and Nicholas                  The Moral and the Story

1962       Alvin B. Kernan                             Modern Satire [“Philip Wylie: A Specimen American Institution”…]

1962        Edwin Muir                                   The Estate of Poetry [“The Public and the Poet,” “The Natural Estate,” “Criticism and the Poet”…]

1963       Donohue and Algren                  Conversations with Nelson Algren [“Where is the American Radical?” “The Open Society”…]

1963       Northrop Frye                               The Well-Tempered Critic

1963        Vernon Hall, Jr.                            A Short History of Literary Criticism

1963       Eloise K. Hay                                The Political Novels of Joseph Conrad: A Critical Study

1963       Frank O’Connor                          The Lonely Voice: A Study of the Short Story

1963        Robert E. Spiller, Ed., et al         Literary History of the United States: History [“Fiction and Social Debate,” “The Hope of Reform,” “Battle of the Books”…]

1964       Walter Allen                                  Tradition and Dream: The English and American Novel From the Twenties to Our Time

1964        Ralph Ellison                                Shadow and Act

1964       Alberto S. Florentino                   Literature and Society: A Symposium on the Relation of Literature to Social Change

1964       Northrop Frye                               The Educated Imagination

1964       Michael Millgate                         American Social Fiction: James to Cozzens

1964       R. H. Tawney                               The Radical Tradition: Twelve Essays on Politics, Education, Literature [“Social History and Literature”…]

1966       Joseph L. Blotner                        The Modern American Political Novel: 1900-1960 [“The Novel of the Future,” “The Role of Woman,” “American Fascism”…]

1966       Gordon Milne                               The American Political Novel

1966       Scholes and Kellogg                  The Nature of Narrative

1967       Louis Kampf                                 On Modernism: The Prospects for Literature and Freedom

1967       Connor Cruise O’Brien              Writers and Politics: Essays and Criticisms

1967       Herbert Read                               Art and Alienation: The Role of the Artist in Society [“The Function of the Arts in Contemporary Society,” “Van Gogh…”…]

1967       Louis D. Rubin                             The Teller in the Tale

1967        George Steiner                            Language and Silence: Essays on Language, Literature, and the Inhuman [“Marxism and Literature”…]

1968       Jose Ortega Y. Gasset               The Dehumanization of Art and Other Essays on Art, Culture, and Literature

1968       Arthur Pollard                               Anthony Trollope’s Political Novels

1968       Mark Schorer                               The World We Imagine: Selected Essays

1969       Joseph North                                The New Masses: An Anthology of the Rebel Thirties [“The Writer and Society,” “Writing and War”…]

1969       Flannery O’Connor                     Mystery and Manners: Occasional Prose [“The Nature and Aim of Fiction,” “Novelist and Believer”…]

1969       Kenneth Rexroth                         Classics Revisited


1970       Maxwell Geismar                        Mark Twain: An American Prophet [“The Enraged Radical”…]

1970       Kampf and Lauter, Eds.             The Politics of Literature: Dissenting Essays on the Teaching of English

1970       George Perkins, Ed.                   The Theory of the American Novel [“Frank Norris: The Novel with a Purpose”…]

1970       Kenneth Rexroth                         The Alternative Society: Essays from the Other World

1970       Raymond Williams                      The English Novel: From Dickens to Lawrence

1971       Hazard Adams, Ed.                     Critical Theory Since Plato

1971       Sheila Delany, Ed.                       Counter-Tradition: The Literature of Dissent and Alternatives

1971       Jonah Raskin                               The Mythology of Imperialism [“Chaos: The Culture of Imperialism,” “Portrait of the Artist as Imperialist”…]

1971       Judy Kay Ferguson Salinas       Social Reform in Selected Works of Carlos Fuentes

1971       Elaine Showalter                         Women’s Liberation and Literature

1972       David Lodge                                 Twentieth Century Literary Criticism [“Politics and the English Language” (Orwell), “Why Write?” (Sartre)…]

1972       Norman Philbrick, Ed.                Trumpets Sounding: Propaganda Plays Of The American Revolution

1973       Richard Kostelanetz                   The End of Intelligent Writing: Literary Politics in America

1974       Jo David Bellamy                         The New Fiction: Interviews with Innovative American Writers

1974       David Craig                                   The Real Foundations: Literature and Social Change

1974       Greenberg and Warrick             Political Science Fiction: An Introductory Reader

1974       John Halperin, Ed.                      The Theory of the Novel: New Essays

1975       Ian Boyd                                        The Novels Of G.K. Chesterton: A Study In Art And Propaganda

1975       Terry Eagleton                             Criticism and Ideology: A Study in Marxist Literary Theory [“Ideology and Literary Form,” “Marxism and Aesthetic Value”…]

1975       Lucien Goldmann                       Towards a Sociology of the Novel [English translation]

1975       Phillip Roth                                   Reading Myself and Others [expanded, 2001] [“Writing American Fiction”…]

1976       Terry Eagleton                             Marxism and Literary Criticism [“The Writer and Commitment,” “The Author as Producer”…]

1976       Gilbert Highet                               The Immortal Profession: The Joys of Teaching and Learning

1976       Richard Ohmann                        English in American: A Radical View of the Profession [updated 1996] [“The Politics of Knowledge: A Polemic”…]

1976       Norman Rudich                           Weapons of Criticism: Marxism in America and the Literary Tradition

1976       David C. Stineback                     Shifting World: Social Change and Nostalgia in the American Novel

1976       Mas’ud Zavarzadeh                    The Mythopoeic Reality: The Postwar American Nonfiction Novel

1977       Mary Lee Bundy                           Guide to the Literature of Social Change: Volume 1

1977       Bob Dixon                                     Catching Them Young 1: Sex, Race and Class in Children’s Fiction

1977       Bob Dixon                                     Catching Them Young 2: Political Ideas in Children’s Fiction

1977       Herbert Marcuse                         The Aesthetic Dimension: Toward a Critique of Marxist Aesthetics

1977       Mark Spilka                                  Towards a Poetics of Fiction: Essays from Novel—A Forum on Fiction, 1967-1976

1977       Diana Trilling                               We Must March My Darlings

1977       Raymond Williams                      Marxism and Literature

1978        John Colmer                                Coleridge to Catch-22: Images of Society [“Utopian Fanatasy,” “Protest and Anti-War Literature”…]

1978       John Gardner                               On Moral Fiction

1978       Josephine Hendin                       Vulnerable People: A View of American Fiction Since 1945

1978       Tillie Olsen                                   Silences [“Rebecca Harding Davis”…]

1978       Philip Rahv                                   Essays on Literature and Politics, 1932-1972

1978       Edward Said                                 Orientalism

1978       David Smith                                  Socialist Propaganda In The Twentieth-Century Novel

1978        Eudora Welty                                The Eye of the Story: Selected Essays and Reviews [“Must the Novelist Crusade?”]

1979       Johnson and Johnson                Propaganda and Aesthetics: The Literary Politics of African-American Magazines in the Twentieth Century

1979       Raghuvir Sinah                            Social Change in Contemporary Literature


1980       Frank Lentricchia                        After the New Criticism

1980/85  Ira A. Levine                                  Left-Wing Dramatic Theory in the American Theatre

1980       John Lucas                                   The Literature of Change: Studies in the Nineteenth Century Provincial Novel

1980       Mary McCarthy                            Ideas and the Novel

1981       M. M. Bakhtin                               The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays [English translation] [ “Discourse in the Novel”…]

1981       Rosemary Jackson                     Fantasy: The Literature of Subversion

1982       Margaret Atwood                         Second Words: Selected Critical Prose [“Amnesty International: An Address”…]

1983       Malcolm Bradbury                      The Modern American Novel [revised edition, 1992: novels 1890-1990s]

1983       Terry Eagleton                             Literary Theory: An Introduction [“Conclusion: Political Criticism”…”]

1983        A. P. Foulkes                                Literature And Propaganda [“What is Propaganda?” “…Literary Communication,” “Fiction and Reality”…]

1983       John J. Michalczyk                      Costa-Gavras: The Political Fiction Film

1983       Nicholas Pronay, Ed.                  Propaganda, Politics And Film, 1918-45

1983        Susan Rubin Suleiman              Authoritarian Fictions: The Ideological Novel as a Literary Genre

1983       Janet Todd, Ed.                           Women Writers Talking

1984       Robert Alter                                   Motives for Fiction [“…American Political Novel,” “History…New American Novel,” “Literature and Ideology in the Thirties”…]

1984       Madeline Moore                          The Short Season Between Two Silences: The Mystical and the Political in the Novels of Virginia Woolf

1984       Christopher Pawling                   Popular Fiction and Social Change

1984       Charles Ruas                               Conversations with American Writers

1984       H. Trivedi                                      American Political Novel

1984       Michael Wilding                          Political Fictions [“1984: Rewriting the Future,” “News From Nowhere,” “The Iron Heel,” “…Huckleberry Finn”…]

1985       Robert Boyers                              Atrocity and Amnesia: The Political Novel Since 1945 [“Toward a Reading of Political Novels”…]

1985       Malcolm Cowley                         The Flower and the Leaf: A Contemporary Record of American Writing Since 1941

1985       Wallace Gray                               Homer to Joyce: Interpretations of the Classic Works of Western Literature

1985       Mary McCarthy                            Occasional Prose [“Politics and the Novel,” “ ‘Democracy’ ”…]

1985       Judith Newton                              Feminist Criticism and Social Change: Sex, Class, and Race in Literature and Culture

1985       Emmanuel Ngara                       Art And Ideology In The African Novel: A Study Of The Influence Of Marxism On African Writing

1985       Mona Scheuermann                  Social Protest in the Eighteenth-Century English Novel

1985       Elaine Showalter, Ed.                 The New Feminist Criticism: …Women, Literature, Theory [“…Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the Politics of Literary History”…]

1985       Michael Spindler                         American Literature and Social Change: William Dean Howells to Arthur Miller

1985       Jane P. Tompkins                       Sensational Designs

1986       Ralph Ellison                                Going to the Territory

1986       Barbara Foley                              Telling the Truth: The Theory and Practice of Documentary Fiction

1986       Hobbs and Woodard, Eds.        Human Rights, Human Wrongs: Art and Social Change

1986       Milan Kundera                             The Art of the Novel

1986       Russell Reising                           The Unusable Past: Theory and Study of American Literature [“The Apolitical Unconscious: Leslie Fiedler”…]

1986       Judi M. Roller                               The Politics of the Feminist Novel

1986       Thomas Daniel Young, Ed.       Conversations with Malcolm Cowley

1987       Nancy Armstrong                         Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel

1987       Miklόs Haraszti                            The Velvet Prison: Artists Under State Socialism

1987       Tom Kemme                               Political Fiction, The Spirit of the Age, and Allen Drury

1987       Richard Ohmann                        The Politics of Letters

1987       Irme Salusinszky                          Criticism in Society: Interviews with Derrida, Frye, Bloom, Hartman, Kermode, Said, Johnson, Lentricchia, Miller

1988       K. E. Agovi                                     Novels of Social Change

1988       Rosemarie Bodenheimer          The Politics of Story in Victorian Social Fiction

1988       Mary Chamberlain, Ed.              Writing Lives: Conversations Between Women Writers

1988       Terrence Des Pres                     Praises and Dispraises: Poetry and Politics, the 20th Century [“Political Intrusion”…]

1988       Emory Elliott, Ed.                         Columbia Literary History of the United States

1988       Nadine Gordimer                        The Essential Gesture: Writing, Politics and Places

1988       Hoffman and Murphy, Eds.        Essentials of the Theory of Fiction

1988       Amy Kaplan                                  The Social Construction of American Realism

1988       Vincent B. Leitch                         American Literary Criticism from the Thirties to the Eighties [“Leftist Criticism From the 1960s to the 1980s”…]

1988       J. Michael Lennon                      Conversations with Norman Mailer

1988       David Lodge, Ed.                         Modern Criticism and Theory: A Reader [updated 2000, with Nigel Wood]

1988       George Plimpton, Ed.                 Women Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews [revised edition, 1998]

1988       Yanarella and Sigelman            Political Mythology and Popular Fiction

1989       Peter Buitenhuis                          The Great War Of Words: British, American, And Canadian Propaganda And Fiction, 1914-1933

1989       Cathy N. Davidson, Ed.               Reading in American: Literature and Social History

1989       Rita Felski                                     Beyond Feminist Aesthetics: Feminist Literature and Social Change

1989       Marie-Lise Gazarian Gautier    Interviews with Latin American Writers

1989       Linda Hutcheon                           The Politics of Postmodernism

1989       Kenneth Rexroth                         More Classics Revisited

1989       John Rodden                               The Politics of Literary Reputation: The Making and Claiming of “St. George” Orwell

1989       Standley and Pratt, Eds.             Conversations with James Baldwin

1989       D. J. Taylor                                   A Vain Conceit: British Fiction in the 1980s [“Writers, Politics and Society,” “Outside the Whale”…]


1990       Bardes and Gossett                    Declarations of Independence: Women and Political Power in Nineteenth-Century American Fiction

1990       Malcolm Cowley                         The Portable Malcolm Cowley

1990       Eagleton, Jameson, Said          Nationalism, Colonialism, and Literature

1990       Lee Horsley                                  Political Fiction and the Historical Imagination

1990       Pearlman and Henderson         A Voice of One’s Own: Conversations with America’s Writing Women

1990       Ishmael Reed                              Writin’ is Fightin’: Thirty-Seven Years of Boxing on Paper

1990        Claudia Tate                                Black Women Writers at Work [Angelou, Bambara, Brooks, Deveaux, Jones, Lorde, Morrison, Sanchez, Walker, etc…]

1991       Arac and Ritvo, Eds.                    Macropolitics of Nineteenth-Century Literature

1991       Best and Kellner                          Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations [“Marxism, Feminism…Political Postmodernism,” “…Critical Social Theory”…]

1991       Carol Gelderman, Ed.                Conversations with Mary McCarthy

1991       Christopher T. Harvie                 The Centre of Things: Political Fiction in Britain from Disraeli to the Present

1991       Philomena Mariani                     Critical Fictions: The Politics of Imaginative Writing [“The Novel’s Next Step” by Maxine Hong Kingston (“Global novel”)]

1991       Paula Rabinowitz                        Labor and Desire: Women’s Revolutionary Fiction in Depression American

1991       Margaret Randall                        Walking to the Edge: Essays of Resistance [“Art as Information”…]

1991       Ruland and Bradbury                 From Puritanism to Postmodernism: A History of American Literature [“Muckrakers…” “Radical Reassessments”…]

1991       Thomas H. Schaub                    American Fiction in the Cold War

1992       David Cayley                                 Northrop Frye in Conversation

1992       Morris Dickstein                          Double Agent: The Critic and Society

1992       Jane DeRose Evans                   The Art Of Persuasion: Political Propaganda From Aeneas To Brutus

1992       Maureen Whitebrook Ed.           Reading Political Stories: Representations of Politics in Novels and Pictures

1992       Winn and Alexander, Eds.         The Slaughter-House of Mammon: An Anthology of Victorian Social Protest Literature

1993        Barbara Foley                              Radical Representations: Politics and Form in U.S. Proletarian Fiction, 1929-1941 [“Art or Propaganda?” “…Didacticism”…]

1993       Toni Morrison                              Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination

1993       Tobin Siebers                              Cold War Criticism and the Politics of Skepticism

1993       Gore Vidal                                     United States: Essays 1952-1992

1994       Dorothy Allison                             Skin: Talking About Sex, Class, and Literature [“Believing in Literature”…]

1994       Carol Becker, Ed.                        The Subversive Imagination: Artists, Society, and Social Responsibility [“Decolonizing the Imagination”…]

1994       Harold Bloom                               The Western Canon

1994       G. W. Bowersock                         Fiction as History: Nero to Julian

1994       Richard Chapple, Ed.                 Social and Political Change in Literature and Film

1994       Michael Hanne                            Power of the Story: Fiction and Political Change [revised edition, 1996?]

1994       H. L. Mencken                             A Second Mencken Chrestomathy [Essays, 1916-1948]

1994       Edward Said                                 Culture and Imperialism

1994       Edward Said                                 Representations of the Intellectuals [“Speaking Truth to Power”…]

1994       Williams and Chrisman, Eds.   Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader

1995       Becker and Wiens, Eds.             The Artist in Society: Rights, Roles, and Responsibilities [“…the Crisis of Democracy,” “Democracy and…the Artist”…]

1995       David Bell                                      Ardent Propaganda: Miners’ Novels And Class Conflict 1929-1939

1995       Dick and Singh, Eds.                  Conversations with Ishmael Reed

1995       Mark Edmundson                       Literature Against Philosophy, Plato to Derrida: A Defense of Poetry

1995       Stanley Fish                                  Political Correctness: Studies and Political Change [“Disciplinary Tasks and Political Intentions”…]

1995       Sharon M. Harris, Ed.                 Redefining the Political Novel: American Women Writers, 1797-1901 [“Literary Politics and the Political Novel”…]

1995       Alfred Kazin                                   Writing Was Everything

1995       Judith K. Proud                            Children And Propaganda: Fiction And Fairy Tale In Vichy France

1995       Anne C. Ruderman                     The Pleasures of Virtue: Political Thought in the Novels of Jane Austen

1995       Mary Ellen Snodgrass                Encyclopedia of Utopian Literature

1996       Nelson Algren                              Nonconformity: Writing on Writing

1996       Josephine M. Guy                       The Victorian Social-Problem Novel: The Market, the Individual, and Communal Life

1996       Horton and Baumeister              Literature and the Political Imagination

1996       Russell Reising                           Loose Ends: Closure and Crisis in the American Social Text [“The Political Work of Disney’s Dumbo”…]

1996       David H. Richter                          Narrative/Theory [“Richard Wright: ‘Blueprint for Negro Writing’ ”…]

1996       Nora Ruth Roberts                      Three Radical Women Writers: Class and Gender in Meridel le Sueur, Tillie Olsen, and Josephine Herbst

1996       Mary Ellen Snodgrass                Encyclopedia of Satirical Literature

1997       Toby Clark                                    Art And Propaganda In The Twentieth Century: The Political Image In The Age Of Mass Culture

1997       Mark Edmundson                       Nightmare on Elm Street: Angels, Sadomasochism, and the Culture of the Gothic

1997       Bettina Friedl, Ed.                        On To Victory: Propaganda Plays Of The Woman Suffrage Movement

1997       Nibir K. Ghosh                             Calculus of Power: Modern American Political Novel

1997       Hassler and Wilcox, Eds.           Political Science Fiction

1998       James Baldwin                            Collected Essays [selections, beginning 1949]

1998       Robert Cole, Ed.                          International Encyclopedia Of Propaganda

1998       Ursula Lord                                   Solitude Versus Solidarity in the Novels of Joseph Conrad: Political and Epistemological Implications of Narrative…

1998       Richard Rorty                               Achieving Our Country [“The Inspirational Value of Great Works of Literature”…]

1998       Alice Walker                                 Anything We Love Can Be Saved

1998       John Whalen-Bridge                   Political Fiction and the American Self [“The Problem of the American Political Novel”…]

1998       Mary Whitby                                  Propaganda Of Power: The Role Of Panegyric In Late Antiquity

1999       Dorrit Cohn                                   The Distinction of Fiction

1999       Hazel Arnett Ervin, Ed.                African American Literary Criticism, 1773-2000 [“1895-1954: Art or Propaganda?” “1955-1975: Cultural Autonomy…”…]

1999       Robert Fulford                              The Triumph of Narrative: Storytelling in the Age of Mass Culture [“Literature of the Streets…the Shaping of News”…]

1999       Gordon Hutner, Ed.                     American Literature, American Culture [“Everybody’s Protest Novel” (J. Baldwin), “Harriet Beecher Stowe” (E. Wilson)”…]

1999       Clifford Siskin                               The Work of Writing: Literature and Social Change in Britain, 1700-1830

1999       Nuria Vilanova                              Social Change and Literature in Peru: 1970-1990

1999       James Wood                                The Broken Estate: Essays on Literature and Belief [“Legacy of…Renan and…Arnold,” “Against Paranoia:…Don DeLillo”]


2000       Joan Acocella                              Willa Cather and the Politics of Criticism [“Politics and Criticism”…]

2000       Camille Bacon-Smith                 Science Fiction Culture

2000       H. Bruce Franklin                        Vietnam and Other American Fantasies

2000       Christopher Hitchens                 Unacknowledged Legislation: Writers in the Public Sphere

2000       Kathryn Hume                              American Dream, American Nightmare: Fiction Since 1960 [“The Fragility of Democracy”…]

2000       David Laskin                                 Partisans: Marriage, Politics, and Betrayal Among the New York Intellectuals

2000       Michael McKeon, Ed.                Theory of the Novel: A Historical Approach

2000       Laura Miller                                  The Reader’s Guide to Contemporary Authors: …The Most Fascinating Writers of Our Time

2000       Winston Napier, Ed.                    African American Literary Theory: A Reader

2000       Christina Stansell                        American Moderns: Bohemian New York and the Creation of a New Century;

2000       Lionel Trilling                               The Moral Obligation To Be Intelligent: Selected Essays

2001       Susan Johnston                           Women and Domestic Experience in Victorian Political Fiction

2001       Elizabeth Maslen                         Political and Social Issues in British Women’s Fiction, 1928-1968

2001       Elizabeth Morgan                        Aeroplane Mirrors: Personal and Political Reflexivity in Post-Colonial Women’s Novels

2001       Margaret Scanlan                       Plotting Terror: Novelists and Terrorists in Contemporary Fiction

2002       Bill Ashcroft, et. al.                       The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Post-Colonial Literatures

2002       Margaret Atwood                         Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing

2002       Brenda Ayers                                Frances Trollope and the Novel of Social Change

2002       Maxwell Geismar                        Reluctant Radical: A Memoir [“From Liberalism to Radicalism”…]

2002       Karin Verena Gunnemann        Heinrich Mann’s Novels and Essays: The Artist as Political Educator

2002       Amy Kaplan                                  The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture [“Romancing the Empire”…]

2002       B. R. Meyers                                 A Reader’s Manifesto: An Attack on the Growing Pretentiousness in American Literary Prose

2002       Louis Pizzitola                              Hearst Over Hollywood: Power, Passion, And Propaganda In The Movies

2003       Ralph Ellison                                The Collected Essays of Ralph Ellison

2003       H. Bruce Franklin                        Introduction to The Iron Heel by Jack London

2003       Marjorie Garber                           A Manifesto for Literary Studies

2003       Thomas J. Kemme                     Patterns of Power in American Political Fiction

2003       Todd Oakley Lutes                     Shipwreck and Deliverance: Politics, Culture and Modernity in the novels of [Paz, Marquez and Llosa]

2003       George Plimpton, Ed.                 Latin American Writers at Work: The Paris Review Interviews

2003        Howard Zinn                                Artists in Times of War and Other Essays




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.


See also:

Cover for 'Fiction Gutted: The Establishment and the Novel'

by  Tony Christini


Bibliography – 1800s to 2003

Critical Excerpts – 1883 to 2003

Quick Views

Social and Political Novel

Social and Political Literature

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s