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The Romance of American Communism

Vivian Gornick

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Verso
02 June 2020
Literary essays; History; Marxism & Communism
Writer and critic Vivian Gornick's long-unavailable classic exploring how Left politics gave depth and meaning to American life Before I knew that I was Jewish or a girl I knew that I was a member of the working class. So begins Vivian Gornick's exploration of how the world of socialists, communists, and progressives in the 1940s and 1950s created a rich, diverse world where ordinary men and women felt their lives connected to a larger human project. Now back in print after its initial publication in 1977 and with a new introduction by the author, The Romance of American Communism is a landmark work of new journalism, profiling American Communist Party members and fellow travelers as they joined the Party, lived within its orbit, and left in disillusionment and disappointment as Stalin's crimes became public.
By:   Vivian Gornick
Imprint:   Verso
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 152mm, 
Weight:   368g
ISBN:   9781788735506
ISBN 10:   1788735501
Pages:   288
Publication Date:   02 June 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Vivian Gornick is a writer and critic whose work has received two National Book Critics Circle Award nominations and been collected in The Best American Essays 2014. Growing up in the Bronx amongst communists and socialists, Gornick became a legendary writer for Village Voice, chronicling the emergence of the feminist movement in the 1970s. Her works include the memoirs Fierce Attachments (1987) and The Odd Woman and the City (2015) and the classic text on writing, The Situation and the Story.

Reviews for The Romance of American Communism

The best book ever written on the inner life of socialists. - Corey Robin, New York Magazine When first published in the 1970s, Vivian Gornick's book helped to launch her distinguished career as a writer and humanized, explained and, yes, romanticized, a generation of American radicals ... Thanks to the dysfunctionality of American capitalism, socialism has reentered the American political vocabulary. Gornick introduces us to a slice of history we need to know. - Eric Foner, author of Battles for Freedom Gornick's language is so fresh and so blunt; it's a quintessentially American voice, and a beautiful one. - Dwight Garner, New York Times I first read The Romance of American Communism in the early eighties, and it has been for many years the book I would rescue if my house was burning down. I based the the narrator of my first novel, The Cast Iron Shore, on the character of 'Diane Michaels, ' a vain shallow woman for whom communism had made her better than she was--'it could all have been so much worse.' Vivian Gornick explores the passion of ideas rather than the ideas themselves, how they make us human. This book has languished out of print for far too long. - Linda Grant, author of A Stranger City A profound guide to the ecstasy and despair of living a life structured by political commitment. These accounts of ordinary Communists will make you ache for such a coherent and purposeful world, even as Gornick shows with enormous sensitivity how it all fell apart. In our new era of political intensity, everyone should have this subtle and exquisite book on hand. - Sarah Leonard Her unrepentant belief in strong feeling as the heartbeat of any political approach to the world explains why, though many good histories of American communism have appeared since Romance, none have captured, elevated, and lit up the experience in quite the same way. - Lana Dee Povitz, Los Angeles Review of Books She presents her interview subjects like characters in literature, as the protagonists of their own experience, and, for that reason, the book is not simply documentary but a work of literature, too, rich, moving, and contradictory. - Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker Most brilliantly evoked, however, is the exhilaration of conversion and the soul-expanding experience of finding a cause ... again and again people speak of the sense of purpose and meaning they derived from being communists; they speak of a process of becoming and a sense of wholeness : a cohesion between what they believed in and what they poured their life's efforts into. - Guardian


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