Fiction and subversion in the 1930s

Pridmore, J.L., 2005. Fiction and subversion in the 1930s. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

10183176.pdf - Published version

Download (34MB) | Preview


This thesis takes as its subject four British working-class writers-George Garrett, James Hanley, Jack Hilton and Jim Phelan-and examines a selection of the fiction they produced in the years roughly between the General Strike (1926) and the end of the Second World War. My aims are twofold: firstly, to show that these writers' works cannot be accurately categorised within generally-accepted conventions of 1930s working class writing such as proletarian naturalism or socialist realism; and secondly, to explore the alternative modes of expression these writers employed to subvert received ideas of class, gender and sexuality.

The first three chapters examine the writers' works in a political context, and show the various ways in which they resisted the literary dictates laid down by A. A. Zhdanov at the 1934 All-Union Congress of Soviet Writers. Using the works of Georg Lukacs as a principal theoretical model I illustrate that in subverting Zhdanovite socialist realism these writers typically departed from realist and naturalist modes, arriving at new and individual conceptions of working-class experience. I then expand this argument to examine their attitudes to mass protest, using George Rude and Georges Sorel to show how similar modes of resistance to the Leninist and Right-Wing stances on crowd-violence are articulated in their writing.

I then explore various modernist engagements through which these writers arrive at new ways of presenting the working-class. The importance of the 1930s "panoramic" city-life novel is discussed, and I also show how Bakhtin's concept of polyphony allowed these writers to challenge the presentation of the working-class in the writing of earlier canonical literary figures. Modernist aesthetics and the important influence they held over working-class writers are explored in three chapters focusing on modem art and dance. Finally, I demonstrate how Arnold Van Gennep's theories of liminality, which were among the influences for Jessie Weston's From Ritual to Romance, also helped define the works of the writers discussed.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Pridmore, J.L.
Date: 2005
ISBN: 9781369314526
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 18 Sep 2020 14:50
Last Modified: 27 Jul 2023 10:37

Actions (login required)

Edit View Edit View


Views per month over past year


Downloads per month over past year