Josephine Herbst: Pity is Not Enough

(1448 words)

In 1930 the novelist Josephine Herbst travelled to the Soviet Union with her husband, writer John Herrmann, to attend the International Congress of Revolutionary Writers in Kharkov. While the conference has been criticised as laying down a party line on proletarian fiction, it had a liberating rather than a restrictive effect on Herbst. In an article about the conference for The New Republic (April 29, 1931), she wrote, “To me it was new to learn th[at] subject matter, to be valuable, need not even deal with actual workers, so long as the writer is cognisant of the Marxian theory of class.” In fact, the trilogy that Herbst published over the next eight years applied Marxist theory to the history of her family, …

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Hubler, Angela E.. "Pity is Not Enough". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2002
[, accessed 30 June 2015.]