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The Long Apprenticeship

Alienation in the Early Work of Alan Sillitoe

John Sawkins

This study of Alan Sillitoe’s early work focuses in particular on Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958) and The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1959). John Sawkins sees their heroes Arthur Seaton and Colin Smith in their resistance to a conformist society as embodying the concept of Alienation (Estrangement). As such they are representatives of a tradition that goes back in its original metaphysical sense to Langland, Milton, Bunyan and the Bible and in its social and economic senses to Karl Marx, John Ruskin, William Blake und Albert Camus. Sawkins also suggests that Sillitoe’s characters have perhaps acquired the dignity of standard-bearers. What rights do they uphold, what wrongs do they sustain? Or are they merely trouble-makers in an otherwise orderly society?
Contents: Preface – Introduction – A preliminary definition of alienation as division and separation – Alan Sillitoe: a short life story from March 1928 to April 1958 – The English working-class novel: ‘ was a very sketchy map I walked over’ – Saturday Night and Sunday Morning: a study in alienation – The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner: a case of total alienation – ‘Uncle Ernest’ or ‘The Watch that Stopped’ – ‘The Fishing-Boat Picture’: a study in inertia – ‘Noah’s Ark’ and Vanity Fair – ‘Pit-Strike’: the Man and the Book – Conclusion: on alienation.