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New Left Review I/41, January-February 1967


R. F.

‘In My Own Land’

Philip Callow: In my own land. Photographs by James Bridgen. Times Press. 35s.

‘The world wasn’t our creation, it was full of work and curses, it clanked, it was stinking with petrol . . . we didn’t want to adapt ourselves to that crazy gang—anyway we didn’t seem to know how to.’ A romantic refusal which runs through Callow’s vivid descriptions of flight from Midlands factory and clerical work to an artist’s (and eventually successful writer’s) refuge in Cornwall. But in ‘Up the Line’, the best of these discontinuous autobiographical descriptions, he discovers a man, a writer in Nottingham who is ‘sure, sure of one thing—England belongs to him’. A subjective certainty which Callow pursues through others in his attempt to discover his own land where (in his final words), ‘I’m not cheated; no more than anyone else. If I’m deprived, nobody’s doing it but me. It’s all happening, going on. I’m in the thick of it.’ Callow’s intense prose is beautifully counterpointed by Bridgen’s photography.

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