Customer Reviews: Artists of the Right
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on January 2, 2013
"[I] don't believe either in liberty or democracy. I believe in actual, sacred, inspired authority: divine rights of natural kings; I believe in the divine right of natural aristocracy, the right, the sacred duty, to wield undisputed authority." (D.H. Lawrence quoted on page 4).

Kerry Bolton, love him or hate him, but he is still deserving of the reading public's admiration for his extreme work ethic when it comes to literary publishing. Now, with the coming onto the scene of various New Right publishing houses: Arktos, Wermod & Wermod, Counter-Currents and several others, his books finally have a venue that can drag his obvious high-quality literary output up in quality aesthetically too, for that has been the one thing that perhaps has lacked in the past with his plethora of pamphlets, strange paperbacks and whatnot published from his overseas home of New Zealand. I read some of his pamphlets back in my youth in the 1990's, but I must say he has really evolved as an author, judging by his output the last few years (and coming years, a little publishing bird tells me): for example his must-read examination of the recent "spontaneous revolutions" across the world; Revolution from Above or his recent exposé of Josef Stalin; Stalin - The Enduring Legacy. Judging from what is written in the foreword by the always excellent Dr. Greg Johnson (editor of Counter-Currents) and author/editor of a fair share of books himself: North American New Right, vol. 1, this volume on 'Rightist' artists is the first of more to come. I'll get the negative out of the picture straight away: I'm sad to say that for the first time in a work published by Counter-Currents, this feels somewhat half-heartedly. I can't really pinpoint what it is, but I feel as if the book lacks a red herring of sorts. Naturally, perhaps, with Bolton being of Anglo background himself, but in addition the book feels somewhat overtly focused on various Anglo-Saxon authors. Now, by all means, this is probably more of a flaw in this particular reader than in his prospective readers, for I must shamefully admit to being rather unfamiliar with the authors mentioned in the work, apart from Lovecraft and Hamsun, of course, which is enough for me to read any work, obviously. Annoyingly, the chapter on Lovecraft consists of a mere ten pages or so, which was a bit of a let-down: considering Bolton's immensely deep insight into Lovecraft, I had wished for so much more, but I guess we are all a bit pampered after S. T. Joshi's detailed works on our favourite resident of Providence. Also, being quite unfamiliar with Fascism, in the real Italian variant, I couldn't help but ask myself what Knut Hamsun, for example, has in common with the basically anti-Traditional themes of the futurists. I don't think we should buy into this nonsensical 'Fascism'-tar-brush provided by our friends on the belligerent 'Democratic' side. Everything that smacks of 'Rightism' is *not* the same, so lumping all these authors together feels somewhat strained, but of course, I get what Bolton is trying to do, which he does excellently.

Now the positive: even though I'm not that familiar with these various authors, the book is definitively quite interesting, and I more or less read it in one sitting. The authors treated here are: D.H. Lawrence, H.P. Lovecraft, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Filippo Marinetti, W. B. Yeats, Knut Hamsun, Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, Henry Williamson and Roy Campbell. The chapter on D. H. Lawrence is excellent, and fits in nicely with his extensive treatment in Collin Cleary's recent book on the same publishing house: Summoning the Gods. Also, the number of quotations in the book are well worth the price alone. How about this amusing and fitting quote (on the need for a different type of economic and work order) for 2013 by Lovecraft: "[T]his leisure will be that of a civilized person rather than that of a cinema-haunting, dance-hall frequenting, pool-room loafing clod." (page 14). Had me laughing out loud, at least. At its best, the book is an excellent overview of a different vision on the role of our cultural elites, a role basically the opposite of what our would-be 'elites' appear as today. For, even though the book at times feels a little light-weight compared to what Bolton presumably has in him, he is spot on when it comes to the fact that the literati of today do their best to whitewash and disappear every trace of aristocratic doctrine found in the authors and artists of the past, and oft-times this was the very essence of their work, thereby rendering their life output rather meaningless and not to mention disrespecting of their integrity as creating humans. To take the two authors I know best from the book, both Knut Hamsun and H.P. Lovecraft are basically meaningless unless read in their aristocratic context. Their entire beings were filled with this European spirit, millennia old, so why this is usually left out (apart from disparaging comments) of their various biographies and such, is a question the prospective reader shall be allowed to ponder alone. Perhaps the liberal literati of the post-1945 world have an agenda of their own?

Reading works such as this is a most welcome antidote to the levelling cultural views served us today in this mindbogglingly globalised world of standardized shallowness and plain evil. Recommended with 4 stars.
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on July 19, 2013
Kerry Bolton acts as the medium in acquainting the reader with the views and deeds of a number of prominent authors and cultural celebrities (D.H. Lawrence, H.P. Lovecraft, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Filippo Marinetti, W.B. Yeats, Knut Hamsun, Ezra Pound, Wyndham Lewis, Henry Williamson, Roy Campbell) , collectively labelled as artists, who were productive during the early 20th century.

The book is organized into a set of biographies, where each biography presents the life of each artist, which in addition to family details and academic background covers
1) key works of the artist, where Bolton reveals how the political views of the artist permeates the narrative of his works,
2) the artist's political and societal engagement up to, during and after the first and second world war, where after the second world war several artists were defamed, some artists were prosecuted and a few artists even incarcerated for their previously held political views.

Although the artists were in agreement on the decadence, materialism and the spiritual nihilism of their societies, the prescriptions on how to improve the situation differed significantly were some artists were adherents to contradictory ideas. Key ideas that were discernible through the prescriptions of the artists were occultism (Lawrence), traditionalism (Hamsun), mysticism (Yeats), futurism (Marinetti), social credit theory (Pound) and vorticism (Lewis).

To the artists, the evolving fascism were viewed as an antidote to what they perceived as the decadent societies of the time. Hence, most of the artists were positive to fascism, let alone with some reservations. This very fact led to the defamation, prosecution, and internation of some artists after the second world war.

Even if the ideas and views date close to a century back, they are still valid since money rules over blood more than ever in our contemporary societies characterized by materialism and spiritual nihilism.

The high quality of the presentation in combination with the width of the ideas being presented makes this book a highly informative and rewarding experience.
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on December 9, 2012
The premise of this book is an intriguing one - that ten literary and artistic luminaries (H. P. Lovecraft among them) were
sympathetic to Fascism during the early 20th century. In a series of mini-biographies, author Kerry Bolton examines their inclinations and misgivings toward this ideology. A commom thread amongst these intellectuals is they trumped high art and culture over politics and were skeptical about any kind of mass political movement. Due to these idiosyncracies, none of them fully embraced National Socialist Germany or Mussolini's Italy.

A book like this could have been written as an apologia or a vehicle for solely discrediting said artists for their heretical views. Instead, Bolton takes an enthusiastic and undeniably ballsy approach with his subjects that may prove unsettling and problematic for some readers. Fortunately, he does a pretty good job of letting the artists speak for themselves without lauding or proselytizing them too heavily.

Highlights include Filippo Marinetti's Futurist Manifesto (as astonishing and radical today as it was a century ago), Ezra Pound's criticism of usury, and W. B. Yeats aspirations into the metaphysical realm. Gabriele D' Annunzio's lively but short-lived Italian Rennaisance city-state of Fiume was, in its own way, the ultimate defiance of bourgeoisie liberalism of that era. Anglo-African poet Roy Campbell's lamentation of globalism, mass conformity and the nightmare of "everything becoming the same" seems to be becoming all-too-true with the advent of time.

Overall, it's a worthy successor (or companion) to Alistair Hamilton's 'The Appeal of Fascism' ( published in the early 70s and now out of print.) I recommend both tomes for those who crave food for thought beyond the mass media or your corporate bookstore's bestseller list.
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