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Modern British Novel Of The Left
     

Modern British Novel Of The Left

by M. Keith Booker
 

The use of the spatial metaphor of a left vs. right opposition originated in the tendency of 19th century European legislatures to seat more radical members to the left of the presiding official. For nearly five decades, the left has come to be identified with totalitarianism and with Marxism and Communism, the most successful leftist movements of the 20th century.

Overview

The use of the spatial metaphor of a left vs. right opposition originated in the tendency of 19th century European legislatures to seat more radical members to the left of the presiding official. For nearly five decades, the left has come to be identified with totalitarianism and with Marxism and Communism, the most successful leftist movements of the 20th century. Many 20th century British novels reflect values antithetical to capitalism, explore the plight of the working class, and challenge the traditional socioeconomic and political views of the right. The British novel of the left represents a long and rich cultural tradition that includes a large number of important works. These novels are best understood as part of a cultural phenomenon that reacts against the mainstream tradition of British literature but also establishes and draws upon traditions of its own. British leftist novels have been produced in a number of modes and subgenres, including realism, modernism, historical novels, detective novels, and science fiction. This reference book provides students and scholars interested in pursuing research into modern British leftist and working-class culture with a convenient starting place that provides extensive coverage of British leftist and working-class novels of the past century.

Through an introductory essay, the volume provides a brief historical survey of the development of this important cultural phenomenon from the Chartist period of the early 19th century to recent working class novels by such contemporary authors as Pat Barker and James Kelman. This survey is followed by an introductory discussion of Marxist literary theory, which is used throughout the book to illuminate individual novels within a theoretical framework consistent with that of most of the novels themselves. The second major part of the book is a guide to selected critical and historical works that presents brief descriptions of a variety of studies useful as background to any study of the British novel of the left. The bulk of the book consists of discussions of more than 130 individual novels of the left in a variety of modes and subgenres. This section includes late 19th century works by authors such as Margaret Harkness and George Bernard Shaw, important early 20th century works such as Robert Tressell's The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists, a wide variety of works from the 1930s, when leftist cultural production was at its peak, and post World War II novels by writers such as Alan Sillitoe and John Berger. The book then ends with a discussion of a number of postcolonial novels of the left that help to illuminate issues relevant to British leftist culture as well.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780313303432
Publisher:
ABC-CLIO, Incorporated
Publication date:
06/30/1998
Pages:
424
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.06(d)

Meet the Author

M. KEITH BOOKER is Professor of English at the University of Arkansas. He is the author of numerous articles and books on modern literature and literary theory, including Dystopian Literature: A Theory and Research Guide (Greenwood, 1994), The Dystopian Impulse in Modern Literature: Fiction as Social Criticism (Greenwood, 1994), Bakhtin, Stalin, and Modern Russian Fiction: Carnival, Dialogism, and History (Greenwood, 1995), Joyce, Bakhtin, and the Literary Tradition (1996), A Practical Introduction to Literary Theory and Criticism (1996), and Colonial Power, Colonial Texts: India in the Modern British Novel (1997).

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