This essay considers what we can learn about the role of the audience or the reader from the work of C.L.R. James. Beginning with a brief consideration of James’ theorisation of audiences, it moves on to discuss his own reading practice and, in particular, his relationship to Thackeray’s Vanity Fair. It is argued that in important ways James’ love of Thackeray reflects and informs the construction of his own novel, Minty Alley, as well as the critical populism of his politics more generally.
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