By A. Hammond
This publication deals a special research of the wide-ranging responses of British novelists to the East-West clash. Hammond analyses the remedy of such geopolitical currents as communism, nuclearism, clandestinity, decolonisation and US superpowerdom, and explores the literary types which writers built to trap the complexities of the age.
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The final phrase, a Cold War take on ‘gravy train’, suggests that the institutionalised structures of the East–West conflict may be exploitable even by petty tricksters, a conceit which, if extended, could have made The Young Visitors an interesting novel. Instead, Jack finally repents of his misdeeds and the satire passes to earnest moralising. Contemplating ‘the nasty stinking phoniness of my whole act’, Jack admits that he has always been aware ‘who revolutions were for’: They were for the tough boys on top of the heap, the narrow-eyed ones with tight faces and guns in their hands.
Toeing the Soviet line, she stereotypes Britain as ‘vulgar materialism’, undernourished proletarians and ‘backward-looking tradition’ and the Soviet Union as a ‘happy family’ ‘united by [its] allegiance to MarxistLeninist values’ (13, 9, 12, 12). Absurdity is also the dominant note in the second narration, that of a British communist youth leader. Jack Spade is in charge of both the Rebellion Coffee House and the Rebellion Theatre Group, the latter an unsubsidised company grounded in Brechtian dramaturgy and determined to preach the Marxist message.
103 The leave-taking of Jack and Elena at the ending only serves as a reminder that they were never properly joined at any point in the novel, always remaining separated in the two first-person narratives. The novel was typical in its suggestion that the youth were a weak point in national security. From the 1950s, the emergence of a more assertive, financially independent younger generation caused some uncertainty amongst an older generation of writers, suddenly faced with a range of bewildering sub-cultures.