The Legacy of Nancy Cunard

Anna Girling at the TLS:

Certainly, even as Cunard’s own work – long overlooked in favour of works about her, including a number of biographies – has recently begun to be recognized and republished, attention has still tended to focus on those of her writings with links to the more outré figures and avant-garde aesthetics of the 1920s. Of her poetry, it is the long Parallax (1925), a response to The Waste Land (and, like T. S. Eliot’s poem, published by Leonard and Virginia Woolf at the Hogarth Press), that is best known – only partly because it is her best. Meanwhile, her prose, which includes extensive political journalism and several works of memoir, remains largely out of print, and her extensive career as an anti-fascist, anti-racist, and anti-imperial writer and activist is often characterized as a series of dilettantish enthusiasms.

Cunard’s reputation has, however, been enjoying a gradual revival, driven largely by the work of Jane Marcus. The past two decades have seen the republication of selections from her journalism and poetry, along with a noticeable growth in academic interest. Perhaps most significantly, her ambitious black internationalist anthology, Negro (1934), was reissued in full last year, encouraging renewed attention to her cultural and political work of the 1930s.

more here.