‘But down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid ...’
In this second issue of Arena we aim to provide general insights into the role of the anarchist in fiction, both as protagonist (as angels and demons, but mostly demons) and author. Obviously, there will be writers whom some readers will think I have unjustifiably missed. All I can reply to such complainants is that you can’t please everyone and that there will be other opportunities in future issues. Meanwhile, it is best to allow the articles here included to speak for themselves, without comment.
David Weir’s essay ‘Anarchist Fiction, Anarchist Sensibilities’ focuses on the progenitor of anarchist fiction, William Godwin’s Caleb Williams, a highly political novel, published in 1794, that demonstrated, in fictional form, the pressing need for the utopian system he described in the first systematic elaboration of anarchist philosophy, Enquiry Concerning Political Justice. ‘Epic Pooh’ is a newly updated revision of a 1978 article by Michael Moorcock (later published in his 1989 book Wizardry and Wild Romance) reviewing epic fantasy literature for children, particularly J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.While researching early twentieth-century French anarchist plays translated into Italian, Santo Catanuto discovered interesting information on the literary side of the indomitable Communard Louise Michel, indicating that she was the author of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. Strapped for cash, she reputedly sold the manuscript to Jules Verne for 100 francs. Stephen Schwartz, a longtime critic of the detective novel, evaluates the arc of French writer Leo Malet from anarchist to arabophobe and, in ‘Between Libel And Hoax’, counters Miguel Mir’s libellous depiction of the Spanish anarchist movement Entre el roig i el negre. In Stephen’s extended essay, ‘Reading the Runes’, he also takes a fresh look at the archival and related research on the historiography of the Spanish Civil War since the death of Franco.
In his discourse on B. Traven’s first full-length novel, The Death Ship, Ernest Larsen looks at the intractable modern problem of identity. Larsen’s short story ‘Bakunin At The Beach’ is about Mr and Mrs Bakunin holidaying at Lake Maggiore under the watchful eyes of Inspector Dupin of the Swiss Department of Justice and Police. Joseph Conrad’s short story ‘An Anarchist. A Desperate Tale’ is republished here from A Set of Six (1908), originally published in Harper’s Magazine in August 1906. ‘Anarchists in Fiction’ is a collection of idiosyncratic reviews of books in which anarchists are portrayed as an eclectic group of villains and criminal degenerates. Finally, we conclude this second issue of Arena with an article by our cinema editor Richard Porton on Dušan Makavejev’s playful, allusive 1971 film WR: Mysteries of the Organism.
How Others See US! New AK Press Title Denounced by Glenn Beck on Murdoch’s FOX TV!
[click on the Films link]
AK Press proudly report that their new book We Are An Image From the Future: The Greek Revolt of December 2008 has raised the eyebrows of right wing talk show host Glenn Beck, who denounced it (3 May) on his FOX TV show. On his show, Beck held up We Are An Image From the Future side-by-side with the book The Coming Insurrection, a title he has inadvertently helped propel to national bestseller status by attacking it on the air as “quite possibly the most evil thing I’ve ever read.”
“You don’t want to think that they even exist, but they do,” Beck says of the authors of both books, whom he calls “Communist revolutionaries” who are “not anarchists, but they will use anarchy.” (He seems to have entirely missed the fact that the contributors to We Are An Image From the Future—as well as other participants in the Greek revolts described in the book—are actually anarchists.)
Thanks to Beck’s anti-endorsement, AK expect quite a buzz around We Are An Image From the Future in the days to come. It is available to ship immediately from AK Press Distribution and other major wholesalers.
We Are an Image From the Future: The Greek Revolt of December 2008
A.G. Schwarz, Void Network, Tasos Sagris (eds) PB
AK Press, $17.00
What causes a city, then a whole country, to explode? How did one neighborhood’s outrage over the tragic death of one teenager transform itself into a generalized insurrection against State and capital, paralyzing an entire nation for a month? We Are an Image From the Future delves into the December insurrection and its aftermath through interviews with those who witnessed and participated in it, alongside the communiqués and texts that circulated through the networks of revolt. What emerges is not just the intensity of the riots, but the stories of organizing and solidarity, the questions of strategy and tactics: a desperately needed examination of the fabric of the Greek movements that made December possible.