The Fullness of Life: Autobiography of an Idea

Introductory Note:
The typescript is an analysis by Jack Lindsay of the idea that governed his life and work – its original expression as a Romantic rejection of a world that debases beauty; its transformation into a social, not only individual, rebellion and embrace of Marxist ideas; its inclusion of human interaction with the natural world; and its final expression as ‘a fully Marxist aesthetic’.  Of course, the book deals with not just one idea but many and is at the same time a journey through the cultural politics of the first two-thirds of the twentieth century, as seen through the experience of an intellectual, writer and activist who resisted any form of institutionalization.


Chapter 1


The cover of the typescript and opening pages, including the ‘Foreword’ explaining its purpose as an auto-exegesis


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Transcription, Beginning

Chapter One: First Stages

Chapter 1Chapter 1:  Jack’s earliest literary influences – World War I –  university and the W.E.A. –– Sydney & Norman Lindsay – publishing work begins – Vision journal – writing begins with poetry, essays, verse and book, Dionysos: Nietzsche contra Nietzsche

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Chapter Two: Fanfrolico Press

006.tifMove to the UK with Fanfrolico Press – William Blake: Creative Will and the Prophetic Image – periodical, London Aphrodite – horror at the English class system – interest in timespace – anti-academician manifesto, ‘The Modern Consciousness’ – sexual ethic – relationship with Elza de Locre

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Chapter Three: Down to the Earth of History

006.tifFanfrolico fails – self-psychoanalysis – three itinerant years – returns to classical studies & writes historical novel, Rome for Sale influence of Marx’s 18th Brumaire – anthologies of Latin translations – embraces alternative medicine, yoga & vegetarianism – Roman novel trilogy – historical novels and short stories – search for totalising vision

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Chapter Four: Marxism Discovered

006.tifReading Marx and Lenin – Spanish Civil War – writing about fascism – books about Giordano Bruno; the English Revolution; Renaissance thought – combining Freud and Marx – Short History of Culture – rejected domination of Communist Party – mass declamations – modern and historical novels, essays, and historical studies – first direct contact with the U.S.S.R. – called up for war service

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 Chapter Five: The War

006.tifPosted to the Army Signal Corps – wrote poetry and several novels – called to the War Office in London – wrote plays to entertain the troops; included antifascist message – championed grass-roots community cultural activity – writing mass declamations and plays after the war, including Robin of England about Robin Hood


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Transcription, Chapter 5

 Chapter Six: Cultural Upsurge and Cold War

006.tifFore publications & journals, Our Time and Seven scriptwriting and theatre work – meets Ann Davies – Agony of Greece – Communist Party politics – Cold War & surveillance – Paris & Meetings with Poets Culture – experiments with the novel – Life of Dickens Marxism and Contemporary Science – 1948 Peace Congress, Warsaw 

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Chapter Seven: Contradiction and Unbalance

006.tifFore Press fails – starts Meridian Press – editing work for Bodley Head – Arena – reading Marx’s 1844 Manuscripts – Pushkin celebrations in Russia in 1949 – CP(GB) criticise Marxism and Contemporary Science writing historical novels  Cold War influence on publishers – the British Way novels – denounced by T.L.S. – working on Byzantine history 

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Chapter Eight: Politics as a Means to Culture

006.tifJournals, Arena Circus  socialist literature – visits to Eastern Europe & stories of repression  move to Castle Hedingham Ann’s death – journey to Italy – writes The Writing on the Wall about Pompeii – to Moscow for Fielding memorial and Second Writers Congress – spectre of Stalin – criticises mechanistic teaching of Marxism  Hungarian uprising & repression – the Angry Young Men playwrights – Life of Meredith

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Chapter Nine: Break and Renewal

006.tifKruschev revelations about Stalinist repression – Lindsay stays in the C.P. – 1959, 3rd Writers Congress in Moscow – Lindsay’s critique of writing under Stalin – continues British Way novels – autobiography, Life Rarely Tells – revises his Short History of Culture – The Death of the Heromostly about the painter, David – rejects atomic power – writing popular history books

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Chapter Ten: The 1960s

006.tifCriticism of science and of ‘Progress’  impact on socialist societies –novels of everyday life and about Roman history – studies Graeco-Roman papyri & writes about Roman Egypt – translates Giordano Bruno – lives of Turner, Cézanne and Courbet – analysis of post-1945 world: commercialisation and alienation; socialist bureaucracy – argues importance of personal initiative & participation – final self-analysis

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Transcription, Chapter 10