The portrayal of the working-class and working-class culture in Barry Hines’s novels

TURNBULL, Simone (2014). The portrayal of the working-class and working-class culture in Barry Hines’s novels. Doctoral, Sheffield Hallam University.

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This thesis examines Barry Hines’s representation of contemporary British workingclass and working-class culture. The corpus includes the writer’s nine novels: The Blinder published in 1966, A Kestrel for a Knave in 1968, First Signs in 1972, The Gamekeeper in 1975, The Price of Coal in 1979, Looks and Smiles in 1981, Unfinished Business in 1983, The Heart of It in 1994 and finally Elvis over England in 1998. The written work also comprises the play entitled Two Men from Derby which was first shown on BBC 1 on 21 February 1976 and subsequently broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 23 October 1976. Besides the scope of the author’s literary output has been enhanced thanks to the adaptation of four of his narratives to cinema through his collaboration with the film-maker Ken Loach. In 1969 the novel entitled The Kestrel for a Knave was adapted into the film named Kes. The Price of Coal was first written for a television series which broadcast in 1977 before being published in book form. The Gamekeeper, was adapted into a film in 1980. Looks and Smiles won the Young Cinema Award in the 1981 Cannes Film Festival. Barry Hines’s position as both a novelist as a scriptwriter has enabled his message to be more widespread. It is the tenor of his message that I study and analyse through the study of his literary output which spans the second half of the 20th century. I wish to question his use of supposedly straightforward realism, verging on naturalism, through the delineation of the geographical, the human, the social and the cultural backdrop. The writer’s literary treatment combines up-to-date details with traditional tenets which conjure up a nostalgic backdrop in the face of the economic, historical and social upheavals of the era. The outlook which remains steeped in the past underscore the timelessness of the working-class according to the narrator. Yet is this definition still relevant as the recent re-shaping of the microcosm is acknowledged, yet downplayed. The overall feeling of everlastingness highlight the entrapment of the contemporary working-class members who cannot come to terms with the successive changes undergone by British society. The writer’s staunch empathy and his use of humour assuage the bleakness of the habitat and of the social conditions. His optimism contrasts with the current virulent contempt levelled at the working-class as he advocates active participation as the only way-out.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Thesis advisor - Hopkins, Chris
Research Institute, Centre or Group - Does NOT include content added after October 2018: Sheffield Hallam Doctoral Theses
Depositing User: Helen Garner
Date Deposited: 30 Oct 2014 14:47
Last Modified: 26 Apr 2021 13:13

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