Reluctant Heroes, Ambivalent Patriots : Eric Ambler, Graham Greene and Middlebrow Leftist Thrillers 1932-1945

DOYLE, Christopher (2018). Reluctant Heroes, Ambivalent Patriots : Eric Ambler, Graham Greene and Middlebrow Leftist Thrillers 1932-1945. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This study considers how the genre of espionage fiction evolved in the period 1932-1945. It undertakes this consideration by focussing on the espionage fictions of Eric Ambler and Graham Greene in this period, as examples of a genre in a process of rapid change. The thesis shows how the evolving form of these fictions was influenced by their authors’ interactions with political questions which at this time were growing ever more urgent. The thesis is divided into three parts. Part One discusses theories of how genres evolve and then specifically considers how the overall category of the crime story underwent dramatic change in the early twentieth century, leading to a separation between detective fiction and other kinds of crime story, including the espionage novel (Introduction), before further discussing the evolution of the espionage novel specifically by examining the direct ancestors of Ambler and Greene’s espionage novels in the 1920s (Chapter 1). Part Two unpacks how the vanguard of literary criticism in this period, represented by the journals Scrutiny and Left Review, reacted to mass cultural forms such as the espionage novel, as well as discussing how generally progressive theories of society in this period were blind to the potential of mass cultural forms to contribute to progressive change (Chapter 2). Part Three involves separate analyses of the works of Ambler (Chapter 3) and Greene (Chapter 4). Chapter 3, which concentrates on Ambler, looks at how his transformation of the espionage novel was heavily influenced by Popular Front politics and strongly motivated by a primarily anti-fascist aesthetic. Chapter 4, which concentrates on Greene, looks at how his espionage fictions were pre-occupied in self-reflective reconstruction of the very genre they occupied, and how this reconstruction is expressive of a political perspective.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Hopkins, Christopher
Additional Information: Director of studies: Christopher Hopkins
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Colin Knott
Date Deposited: 24 Dec 2019 13:23
Last Modified: 07 Jun 2023 07:49

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