Tess Slesinger’s 1934 novel, The Unpossessed details the ins and outs and ups and downs of left-wing New York intellectual life and features a cast of litterateurs, layabouts, lotharios, academic activists, and fur-clad patrons of protest and the arts. This cutting comedy about hard times, bad jobs, lousy marriages, little magazines, high principles, and the morning after bears comparison with the best work of Dawn Powell and Mary McCarthy.
The farce or is it the tragedy? of New York leftist intellectuals done in by free love is gleefully taken up in The Unpossessed, the newly reissued 1934 comic novel by Tess Slesinger (1905-1945). Among the union organizers, academics, activists and slumming society folk who make up the cast are transplanted New Englander Miles ("his... conscience ticking neatly on his desk, beside the clock"); philanderer and mediocre novelist Jeffrey Blake, who gets it on with Comrade Fisher, a militant Trotskyite; and the droning Marxist professor Bruno Leonard. Several of these characters are, of course, planning to start a magazine. Slesinger, a New York native, moved in the same circles as Lionel Trilling, Clifton Fadiman and other famed liberal intellectuals, who seem to have provided her with rich material. Introduction by Elizabeth Hardwick.