Raymond Williams begins his brilliantly perceptive study of the English novel in the 1840s, a period of rapid social change brought on by the Industrial Revolution, the struggle for democratic reform, and the growth of cities and towns. Unsettling, indeed critical, for individuals and communities alike, this process of change prompted the novelists of the time to explore new forms of writing. The genius of Dickens, the powerful originality of the Bront? sisters, the passionate vision of George Eliot – all gave new force and humanity to the English novel, whose roots in the evolving community Raymond Williams proceeds to trace through the work of Hardy, Gissing and Wells, and on to D.H. Lawrence.
His complex character, indeed his whole life, was held together by two qualities - scholarship and political conviction - which made him a major influence on three decades of political thought
He was the foremost political thinker of his generation in Britain who in his most formidable books, Culture And Society, The Long Revolution and The Country and the City, redrew the map of our cultural history, and elsewhere made heroic interventions in the main political debates of his time
For those who read English in the '60s, it was common to revere Williams as both a rock of integrity and a pathfinder for new ways of seeing culture, communication, class and democracy
He shows us the language and imagery, the beliefs and developed ideas, the hidden assumptions and class biases, and the 'structures of feeling' of literally hundreds of writers, major and minor, poets and pamphleteers, geniuses and hacks. . . . His erudition is immense