Gender representation, sexuality and politics in the writings of Patrick Hamilton
This thesis analyzes the drama and prose fiction of the upper-middleclass Communist writer Patrick Hamilton (1904-62), drawing on a considerable amount of primary material. Part of the purpose of the thesis is to restore Hamilton's reputation as a writer of significance by effecting a judicious critical assessment of his unjustly neglected oeuvre. It is argued that throughout his work are discernible traces of a crisis of hegemony which afflicted the British ruling order in the interwar period and of which one aspect is of special relevance here -- viz., a certain problematization of Victorian and Edwardian codes of English bourgeois masculinity engendered by the Great War and its shell-shocked aftermath and peculiarly operative among those ex-Public School writers who, like Hamilton, were born around the mid-1900s, and became prominent in the 1930s. One, well-known, consequence of this crisis was a sexualized transfer of allegiance by some bourgeois literary intellectuals to the Soviet Union and the working-class; another was a gravitation towards (crypto-) Fascism. From the time of his 1926 novel, Craven House. Hamilton sought to anatomize the potential for fascistic 'evil' latent in the southern English petty bourgeoisie. It is demonstrated that his fictional analyses were rendered more profound by his intellectual assimilation of Marxism from 1933 onwards. It is also shown that the specific appeal of Soviet Marxism for this writer resided in its quasi-religious capacity to satisfy a craving for authenticity in a social world characterized by deceitful quotidian role-playing and, in the drama especially, to facilitate the unmasking of villainy and subserve an obsession with revenge. Congenial to this brand of Marxism, it is contended, is the monologic tradition of the realist novel, to which Hamilton's fiction almost invariably conforms. The Protestant discourse of confession which nurtures that tradition is often discernible in the impulse to confess which tends to characterize the rendition of the sexual in Hamilton's texts and, in general, his problematic representation of gender and sexuality is closely scrutinized. It is concluded that, despite its demonstrable limitations and inherent problems, much of Hamilton's work can be rendered valuable to a contemporary radical audience.