Evading Class In Contemporary British Literature

Hardcover | June 15, 2009

byLawrence Driscoll

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This trenchant book argues that the cultural attempt to erase class during the period from Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair has only generated its return as a troubling subterranean element in British literature and theory. Driscoll critiques the way postmodern theory idealizes contemporary British literature as a space of fluid, flexible decentered subjects, arguing that beneath this ideology are clear evasions of class. Offering critical readings of canonized middle-class authors from Martin Amis to Graham Swift, Driscoll makes the compelling argument that the contemporary British novel, assisted by "class blind" postmodern literary theory consistently works to control the problem of class.   

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This trenchant book argues that the cultural attempt to erase class during the period from Margaret Thatcher to Tony Blair has only generated its return as a troubling subterranean element in British literature and theory. Driscoll critiques the way postmodern theory idealizes contemporary British literature as a space of fluid, flexib...

Lawrence Driscoll is Professor of English at Santa Monica College and the author of Reconsidering Drugs: Mapping Victorian and Modern Drug Discourses.
Format:HardcoverDimensions:256 pages, 8.31 × 5.72 × 0.76 inPublished:June 15, 2009Publisher:Palgrave MacmillanLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0230615279

ISBN - 13:9780230615274

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Questions of Class in the Contemporary British Novel * "Unworkable Subjects":  Middle-Class Narratives in Pat Barker, Ian McEwan, and Kazuo Ishiguro * "Our Economic Position": Middle-Class Consciousness in Zadie Smith and Will Self * Classless Fictions?: Middle-Class History/Working-Class Subjects in Martin Amis, Peter Ackroyd, and Hanif Kureishi * We’re all Bourgeois Now: Realism and Class in Alan Hollinghurst, Graham Swift, and Jonathan Coe * A Class Act: Representations of Class in British Cinema and Television

Editorial Reviews

“Surveying an impressive range of recent fiction, film, and television, Driscoll reminds us that even in an era dominated by emergent ethnicities, sexualities, and hybrid identities, class remains in many ways the great and inescapable theme of British culture.  Though most of the literature he discusses seeks to deny or transcend differences of class, it betrays through the very strenuousness of its evasions the persistent social and psychic costs of economic disadvantage.  Any student seeking an overview of contemporary British literature will profit from consulting this book.”--James F. English, University of Pennsylvania, author of The Economy of Prestige and editor of A Concise Companion to Contemporary British Literature “In his penetrating study Driscoll shows that the contemporary British novel operates as an unwitting prism for the new class-bound stratifications of post-Thatcher society. This is an important, radical book.”--Richard Bradford, Research Professor in English, University of Ulster “This book represents a most important contribution to the field of contemporary British fiction, with some acute reading of key texts demonstrating the importance of situating the representation of both class as a theme and the class background and assumptions of British novelists. Recommended reading for all interested in such fiction.”-- Philip Tew, Professor of English, Brunel University and Director of the United Kingdom Network for Modern Fiction Studies"This is an important book. Driscoll offers a powerful insight into the place of class in recent British fiction. He reveals how contemporary literature is bound up inextricably with the class cultural assumptions it so assiduously seeks to deny. This book places the importance of class at the center of literary study."--John Kirk, Senior Research Fellow, London Metropolitan University