7 Politically Inclined Authors

This is a post that I wrote a while back about famous authors who held strong political opinions.

The following 7 authors were all politically inclined:

Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter Thompson

(July 18th 1937 – February 20th 2005)

The father of Gonzo journalism was an iconic figure in the counter-culture. Despite his love of firearms and ardent support of the Second Amendment, Thompson’s politics were firmly entrenched in the far-left. A sworn enemy of Richard Nixon, he was vociferous in his support of George McGovern in the 1972 presidential election. He covered the election in dispatches for Rolling Stone, which laid the foundation for his book Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72.

Click here to read my review of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

John Steinbeck

JohnSteinbeck  (February 27th 1902 – December 20th 1968)

John Steinbeck was a prolific novelist and short-story writer, and one of the most acclaimed literary figures America has ever produced. The author was very critical of capitalism and a supporter of unionisation, recurring themes in many of his books. His most famous work, The Grapes of Wrath, was viewed as so controversial at the time of its publication due to its criticism of the nation’s economic plight that it was burned on 2 separate occasions in the author’s hometown of Salinas.

Click here to read my review of In Dubious Battle.

Zora Neale Hurston 

Hurston

(January 7th 1891 – January 28th 1960)

Zora Neale Hurston was an American folklorist, anthropologist and author, who wrote 4 novels and more than 50 short stories, plays and essays. Her most famous novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, was published in 1937. The highly opinionated Hurston could probably best be described as a conservative libertarian. Unlike many of her Soviet sympathising colleagues in the Harlem Renaissance, Hurston, a staunch patriot, was vehemently anti-Communist. She often referred to them as ‘commies’ and ‘reds’ in her writing.

Maxim Gorky

Maxim Gorky (March 28th 1868 – June 18th 1936)

Maxim Gorky is one of Russia’s most popular authors. His opposition to the Tsarist regime led to him being arrested on numerous occasions. Gorky, who associated with many revolutionaries, became a friend of Lenin. Later he provided financial support to the Russian Social Democratic Labour Party. Widely accepted as being the first famous Russian writer to emerge from the proletariat, Gorky is remembered as being a lifelong supporter of the Bolshevik cause and the founder of the Socialist realism literary method.

Click here to read my review of My Childhood.

Leo Tolstoy

Tolstoy (September 9th 1828 – November 20th 1910)

Russian novelist Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy is widely regarded as being one of the greatest writers of all time. His most famous works are War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Tolstoy was a Christian Anarchist, who believed that non-resistance was the only way to achieve a Utopian society. His beliefs influenced Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi. Tolstoy’s argument that peaceful anarchy could only be brought about by non-violent revolution is explained in his essay On Anarchy (1900).

Kurt Vonnegut

Vonnegut

(November 11th 1922 – April 11th 2007)

Vonnegut was an American author, whose writing incorporated science fiction, black humour and satire. He was a pacifist intellectual and supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union. When he died in 2007 The New York Times described him as ‘the counterculture’s novelist’. His seminal work, Slaughterhouse-Five, is a satire about a survivor of the notorious firebombing of Dresden in World War II. Its anti-war rhetoric has resulted in it being banned by numerous US schools and libraries.

Click here to read my review of Slaughterhouse-Five.

George Orwell

GeorgeOrwell (June 25th 1903 – January 21st 1950)

Author and journalist George Orwell was interested in social injustice, opposed to totalitarianism and committed to democratic socialism. So strongly was Orwell opposed to Fascism that he even volunteered to fight in The Spanish Civil War.  His experiences there gave rise to his book, Homage to Catalonia (1938). Orwell’s most famous works, Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, both warned of the dangers of totalitarianism. They were perceived as being a thinly disguised attack on Stalin and banned in the Soviet Union.

Click on the links to read my reviews of Down and Out in Paris and London and The Road to Wigan Pier.

9 Comments

Leave a comment
  • Yes, highly topical and a great post Guy! I have liked Zora Neale Hurston’s work and didn’t realise she was conservative-minded. I understand Leo Tolstoy was a wife beater despite his superb writing skills and Utopian vision. Steinbeck is certainly one of my favourite writers, and I think Slaughterhouse 5 is a great book. Orwell can be a bit intense in my view but 1984 and Animal Farm are classics in the making. Given today’s election result, I should give a shout out to Scottish writers James Robertson, Andrew Greig, and Irvine Welsh who are all political authors in their own ways. Look forward to next week’s blog….

    • Irvine Welsh would have made a worthy addition to this post Sue. I haven’t read any Robertson or Greig. We both love Steinbeck. Planning to read Anna Karenina soon. The Road To Wigan Pier is certainly pretty intense in places. Thanks for reading. Have a good weekend.

  • When is a writer political or a politician a writer? Does the writing have to be fiction? I suppose it is what they are best known for. I mean to say, Winston Churchill was pretty good at scribbling, but he had a few other achievements …

  • Loved this (as usual). I have read all these books and was amazed at the time on how open some of the criticism of the status quo was when written. I thought Steinbeck went overboard on his pro-communist stand but man could he write.

Leave a Reply

Copyright © 2015. Guyportman's Blog

%d bloggers like this: