“Christian Høgsbjerg’s book is going to make a very significant impact on the community of C. L. R. James scholars and beyond. Høgsbjerg has thoroughly combed the key archival sources to generate a comprehensive, lively, and insightful portrait of James’s intellectual and political life during his first sojourn in Britain. In doing so, he has filled in many key details and fleshed out many important events in James’s life in Britain.” —Paget Henry, coeditor of C. L. R. James’s Carribbean
“When C. L. R. James left Trinidad for England in 1932, it was a kind of homecoming: A connoisseur of cricket, immersed in the works of Shakespeare and Thackeray almost from birth, James was the consummate Afro-Saxon intellectual long before setting foot in London. In C. L. R. James in Imperial Britain, Christian Høgsbjerg follows him into the meeting halls and radical bookstores, the cricket grounds and bohemian haunts, where this displaced ‘Victorian with the rebel seed’ emerged as a leading figure in the Trotskyist and Pan-Africanist movements. The fusion of insight with command of factual detail sets the new standard by which serious work on C. L. R. James must be judged.” —Scott McLemee, editor of C. L. R. James on the “Negro Question”
C. L. R. James in Imperial Britain chronicles the life and work of the Trinidadian intellectual and writer C. L. R. James during his first extended stay in Britain, from 1932 to 1938. It reveals the radicalizing effect of this critical period on James’s intellectual and political trajectory. During this time, James turned from liberal humanism to revolutionary socialism. Rejecting the “imperial Britishness” he had absorbed growing up in a Crown Colony in the British West Indies, he became a leading anticolonial activist and Pan-Africanist thinker. Christian Høgsbjerg reconstructs the circumstances and milieus in which James wrote works including his magisterial study, The Black Jacobins. First published in 1938, James’s examination of the dynamics of anticolonial revolution in Haiti continues to influence scholarship on Atlantic slavery and abolition. Høgsbjerg contends that during the Depression C. L. R. James advanced public understanding of the African diaspora and emerged as one of the most significant and creative revolutionary Marxists in Britain.
Christian Høgsbjerg is a Teaching Fellow in the Department of History at the University of York. He is the editor of a recent edition of C. L. R. James’s play Toussaint Louverture: The Story of the Only Successful Slave Revolt in History also published by Duke University Press.
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March 2014 9780822356189 PB £
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