I visited Hay-on-Wye in the past week, the celebrated town of books on the England-Wales border, and came away with a few modest purchases. I picked up a first edition of Rumer Godden's 1946 novel The River - which I have already devoured, what a good book! ... not particularly rare but nice to have. And a few political pamphlets. And this copy of the Partisan Review which I got because the excellent, effervescent Colin MacInnes is among the contributors.
MacInnes is celebrated above all as a novelist and the author of Absolute Beginners, such a glorious read and one of my favourite novels. He was also an incisive essayist - Bernard Kops, I know, regards him as a more talented essayist than novelist.
This issue includes MacInnes on 'English Queerdom' - he devised the word 'Queerdom', and this may well be an early instance of a gay writer re-appropriating the term 'queer' in an article intended for a readership beyond the gay/queer community.
The Partisan Review was a curious journal - established in the 1930s as a loosely Communist-aligned publication, it changed its line and in the 1950s and '60s received covert funding from the CIA. This issue acknowledges a link with the American Committee for Cultural Freedom - an organisation which, it later transpired, was in part established and funded by the CIA. There is a rich irony in America's cold war establishment funding the publication of a piece by MacInnes, an anarchist and rebel.
The Review finally succumbed as recently as 2003. Here's MacInnes's sparkling article from 1961 -
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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