Not Winnin’ Anymore: Boys from The Blackstuff and the Literature of Recession
Abstract: This article addresses representations of working-class life in Britain during the 1980s; specifically, experiences of recession, unemployment, and difficulty in the workplace. The primary text considered is the television drama series Boys from the Blackstuff (1982), written by Alan Bleasdale; more briefly this is linked to James Kelman’s novel The Busconductor Hines (1984), and to the post-industrial landscape of the poetry of Sean O’Brien. In the wake of the socialist criticism of Raymond Williams, the article explores how the “Industrial Novel” of the 1840s may be succeeded, in the Thatcher years, by the literature of recession and deindustrialization.
Keywords: Boys from the Blackstuff, Alan Bleasdale, James Kelman, Raymond Williams, Thatcherism
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Published in March 2020