Working Class Subjugation and Left Wing Politics in the Works of Alan Sillitoe

  • Jacques Issartel

Abstract

Reading the works of Alan Sillitoe through the lens of a class analysis seems a straightforward task, but how do working class characters who reject the role of the state in their lives fit within a Marxist interpretation of Sillitoe’s works? Is equating socialism with Marxism reductive, and does the subversive and rebellious nature of Sillitoe’s characters better align itself with anarchism? Examining the novel Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958) and the short story ‘The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner’ (1959), this article will explore the ways in which Sillitoe’s portrayals of working class resistance are linked to left-wing political thought, focusing on the contrast between statist and libertarian ideologies. Emphasising the way Sillitoe’s writing is typically linked to statist socialism as proposed by Marx, it will explore how the anarchic view of the state as an inherently oppressive institution that is designed so as not to allow itself to be utilized for revolution purposes, as postulated by those such as Bakunin, arguably lends itself better to Sillitoe’s work. Furthermore, to demonstrate the way in which Sillitoe’s working class characters are united, even if not under a direct political banner, through a shared politics brought about in reaction to their common oppression, and to establish where this ideology exists in relation to wider political thought.

Published
2018-03-08
How to Cite
ISSARTEL, Jacques. Working Class Subjugation and Left Wing Politics in the Works of Alan Sillitoe. Literary Cultures, [S.l.], v. 1, n. 1, mar. 2018. ISSN 2516-3310. Available at: <https://journals.ntu.ac.uk/index.php/litc/article/view/70>. Date accessed: 08 feb. 2023.