Post-war British working-class fiction with special reference to the novels of John Braine, Alan Sillitoe, Stan Barstow, David Storey and Barry Hines
This study is about British working-class fiction in the post-war period. It covers various authors such as Robert Tressell, George Orwell, Walter Greenwood, Lewis Grassic Gibbon and DH Lawrence from the early twentieth century; writers traditionally classified as 'Angry Young Men' like John Osborne, Arnold Wesker, Shelagh Delaney, John Wain and Kingsley Amis; and working-class novelists like John Braine, Stan Barstow, David Storey, Alan Sillitoe and Barry Hines from the 1950s and 1960s. Some of the main issues dealt with in the course of this study are language, form, community, self/identity/autobiography, sexuality and relationship with bourgeois art. The major argument centres on two questions: representation of working-class life, and the relationship between working-class literary tradition and dominant ideologies. We will be arguing that while working-class fiction succeeded in challenging and rupturing bourgeois literary tradition, on the level of language and linguistic medium of expression for example, it utterly failed to break away from dominant, bourgeois modes of literary production in relation to form, for instance. Our argument is situated within Marxist approaches to literature, a political and aesthetic position from which we attempt an analysis and an evaluation of this working-class literary tradition. These critical approaches provide us also with the theoretical tool to define the political perspective of this tradition, and to judge whether it was confined to a descriptive mode of representation or located in a radical, political outlook.