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The Proletarian Answer to the Modernist Question

Nick Hubble

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Reformulates our understanding of the relationship between proletarian literature and modernism in Britain

This book argues that British proletarian literature was a politicised form of modernism which culturally transformed Britain. Critical analysis and close readings of key works such as D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, Naomi Mitchison’s We have Been Warned, Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s A Scots Quair and John Sommerfield’s May Day, are placed within a literary history stretching from early encounters between Ford Madox Ford and D.H. Lawrence, through Virginia Woolf’s association with the Women’s Co-operative Guild, and on to the activity of Mass Observation in the late 1930s and 1940s. The study analyses the way in which modernism and proletarian literature were related to an intersectional web of class and gender that took on a potent political shape following the 1926 General Strike and the Equal Franchise Act of 1928. The 1930s is revealed not as an atypical, isolated decade but as central to the literature of the twentieth century.

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Contents

Introduction
1. ‘Her Heritage was that Tragic Optimism’: Edwardian Pastoral
2. ‘The Common Life’: Women and Men after the General Strike
3. ‘She Had Finished with Men Forever’: Lewis Grassic Gibbon’s Grey Granite
4. ‘The Raw Material of History’: John Sommerfield’s May Day
5. ‘None of That “My Good Woman” Stuff’: Outsider Observations
Conclusion.

About the Author

Nick Hubble is Reader in English at Brunel University London.

Reviews

Nick Hubble is a subtle and adept theorist, an engaging and authoritative guide to the political meanings of diverse literary genres and a sensitive reader with an easy reference to a broad range of key primary and secondary texts. He is an expert whose feeling for the drama of everyday life and command of history turns his modernist readers into experts on proletarian literature, too.
- Kristin Bluemel, Monmouth University

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