Fred Inglis on Raymond Williams:

Williams’ prose, as the last pages of The Fight for Manod bring out, registers the deep difficulty of knowing what to do: of keeping your being and your culture, your feelings and your history in sufficient union, for you to be able to shake off sheer fatigue and bitter frustration, and know what your purposes are. Williams’ power is to bring out the real meanings of that experience without glossing its obscurity, indeed at times insisting with a rare and moving honesty that it is the obscurity of experience which has to be lived with, in your body and soul, and sorted out, a bit at a time and as best you can, in terms of everyday life and work and encounter. The grappling with obscurity in his work is always brave and sustained, even if what he takes for granted as the clarities and certainties look a lot less convincing to others than he takes them to be. But it is far more than expressing the self-importance of the over-theoretic and powerless intellectual in the still comfortable West to say that Williams is one of the trio of men whose attention to the possibilities of understanding and action made imaginable by Marxist Socialism, with its tense claims to the status of science and redemptive doctrine, allied to their living a real, visible life in the polity, who mark the spot at which thought becomes valid and valuable action – that sequence of moments Marxists themselves call praxis. 

And a reminder:

…the idea of the university is powerless without the material realities of membership and friendship, as well as the rather harder and more wintry virtues of solitary independence, resistance, doggedness, and the absolute resolution to get on with the task in hand and are not to be bought out by the cosy privileges and soft snobberies which are still amply available to bright young-to-middle-aged academics. 

Author: jenniferhodgson

Writer, editor, researcher

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