C. L. R. James: Cricket's Philosopher King

C. L. R. James: Cricket's Philosopher King

Dave Renton

Language: English

Pages: 120

ISBN: 2:00254456

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Known as 'The Cricketing Marxist', Cyril Lionel Robert James (1901–89) was one of the leading black intellectuals of the 20th century, a Marxist theorist of the first rank, and also one of the finest writers on cricket, with his legendary book Beyond a Boundary.

This seeming paradox is reflected in other areas of his life and work: the product of a British-style education and fanatical cricketer who never abandoned the values the sport inculcated in him, he was a Trotskyite expelled from the USA during the McCarthy era who was a friend and inspiration to a generation of leaders of newly-independent African countries such as Kwame Nkrumah of Ghana and Julius Nyrere of Tanzania.

Described in his lifetime as 'the black Hegel' and 'the black Plato', his book on the 18th-century slave revolt in Haiti, The Black Jacobins, is one of the great historical works of the 20th century, yet he was never comfortable with the idea of 'Black Studies'. In this fascinating new study of this seminal thinker, Dave Renton hopes to 'persuade Marxist of the joys of cricket, and followers of cricket of the calibre of James and of James' Marxism'.




















schools, and was, even more than rugby, a socially useful sport which men did not hesitate to use for the advancement of their careers; but the majority of professional cricketers were of working-class origin and, although never as important to working men as football, nor played by as many, cricket was closely followed by them, particularly by skilled working men.’ There were many differences between county and league cricket. The former was and is played during the week. The matches lasted

they do. For those backing the losing side, this necessity shapes the routine grind of spectating. Cricket, with its five-day tests and five-Test series, gives plenty of chances for superiority to show. But some times the inevitable is cheated. Teams or players improve. The weather plays its part. Shocks can occur on the pitch or off, and yes, Martyn’s resignation was a surprise. If Marxists are unwilling to think the language of sport, of cricket, and of football too, and of all the other

destruction of cultivation to starve the rebellious). Those and other requirements of the higher civilisation reduced the native population from an estimated half-million, perhaps a million, to 60,000 in 15 years.’ The writing is sparse, James’ metaphors are precise, the rhythm is that of his classical training. By 1789, the island had been divided into two colonies. The eastern half Santo Domingo was ruled by Spain. The total population was 125,000, around one-eighth slaves. The western

1935, at the age of just 15. She heard James speak for the first time in Los Angeles, three years later. Years afterwards, she could still recall, ‘He was over six feet two inches, slim, but not thin, with long legs. He walked easily, with his shoulders level. His head appeared to be on a stalk, held high with the chin titled forward and up, which made it seem that his body was led by a long neck, curved forward like that of a racehorse in the slip. Shoulders, chest, and legs were powerful and he

was unprepared for his presence, disliked the realisation that he now had a potential critic to his left, and did little of significance to help James find his feet. In March 1960, James sent a 40,000-word statement to the PNM representative on the paper’s Board of Directors. It was an attempt to draw the lessons of his work on the paper. James complained of ‘the almost total absence of any official interest by the Party’ in the paper. He had been required to find the machinery to print the paper

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