From International Socialism, No.21, Summer 1965, p.29.
Transcribed & marked up by by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.
With Breast Expanded
MacGibbon & Kee, 25s.
This is a brilliant, bitter, sad, funny book by the best man who was a revolutionary socialist in Britain in the last twenty-five years. It is a comment not on Brian Behan, but on the Left that it was unable to hold him. Unemployed in Ireland, on the building sites in England, on the dole in England, fighting McAlpines on the South Bank, expelled by the Communist Party, the Labour Party, the Socialist Labour League, Behan has lived through the substance of a Left-wing life, not omitting prison. He has never been very good at repeating ritual formulas parrot-fashion: in fact, the most powerful portraits in his book are of Marxists who have not so much swallowed the formulas as been swallowed up by them. What is saddest of all is that disillusionment leaves the author only one role, that of an officially licensed jester. But at least there is slightly more reality in this role than there is in that of the officially licensed revolutionaries of the mock left.
Last updated on 11.9.2007