Marxisms on Trial:Barbary Shore

  • Nigel Leigh


If there are large formal differences between The Naked and the Dead and Mailer′s second novel, Barbary Shore,1 there is nevertheless a close political kinship between the two books. The Marxist influence in The Naked and the Dead is translated in Barbary Shore into Marxist perspective. The only actual Marxists in the first novel — if Hearn is excluded as a left liberal or proto-Marxist — are an anonymous hobo in a time-machine section and the members of Havard′s John Reed Club who expel Hearn from their group. In Barbary Shore Marxism is centralized. As Stanley Gutman points out, the novel is nothing less than ‘an inquiry into the political, social, and historical meaning of Marxism in the twentieth century’.2 The discourse on power is established again, this time on terms that are openly political and unencumbered by generic imperatives. Whereas Mailer had, like Hearn, only ‘played around’ with Marxism in The Naked and the Dead, here he is concerned to fulfil Walter B. Rideout′s definition of the radical writer′s intention to ‘work out in his fiction a Marxist analysis of society’.3


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© Nigel Leigh 1990

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  • Nigel Leigh

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