Views from within: reflections of experience in the work of two British working-class writers of the 1930s.

Emma Coupland

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The argument of the thesis centres around the notion of 'views from within'. It is an examination which states that the essential difference underlying Lewis Jones' and Walter Greenwood's writing is based upon their personal histories. The two writers are considered from the viewpoint that the contrast in their attitude to the subject of their work is the result of diverging reactions to their experiences. While the authors were born into generally comparable working-class communities, their disparate responses the events of their lives affected their perceptions of the economic, social and, more importantly, the political situation in British society. By exploring the writing of Greenwood and Jones during the 1930s, both from within the context of their communities and their lives, it IS established that their differing perspectives on the world are evident in the work they produced at this time. When compared to Greenwood, Jones, as a militant Communist with the strength of his convictions, offers a contrary attitude to the events of the Depression. While Greenwood professed to be an 'enthusiastic' Labour supporter, his perspective on the contemporary issues of British society is ambivalent and riddled with contradiction.
The resulting discussion has three distinct stages. Initially, the framework of the argument IS laid out, involving a literary I historiographical structure which usesthe novels as a primary source. The second stage attempts to develop a sense of the individual behind the writing by creating a biographical narrative for each man. Here, the two are examined from within the context of their respective environments and their accumulated experiences. The final chapter seeks to analyse the work of Greenwood and Jones from a comparative viewpoint. Enlisting a thematic appraisal, several areas of their writing are examined and two scenes from their central novels are contrasted. Thus, by closely investigating the creative output of Jones and Greenwood, it has been revealed that their dissimilar viewpoints on the 1930s are captured throughout their work. It is also shown that the difference between them is primarily political while Jones struggled to change the world, Greenwood merely wanted to alter his life.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Western Australia
Award date1 Jan 1997
Publication statusUnpublished - 1997


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