James Hanley (1901-1985) was brought up in Liverpool and worked as a merchant seaman before becoming a professional writer. The first of his twenty-four novels, Drift, was published in 1930. In this wide-ranging study of Hanley's life and writings, John Fordham argues that, although Hanley's work is most commonly identified with 'proletarian' realism, it should instead be thought of as a sustained engagement with modernism. Fordham discusses Hanley's relationship to London and the institutional culture of high modernism, as well as his association with his adopted country, Wales, where he lived for more than thirty years and which figures so importantly in his imagination. Through a close analysis of Hanley's writing and the social and cultural contexts of his work, Fordham demonstrates the importance of the category of class for understanding the literary history of modernism and shows how Hanley's work reveals the conflicting and contradictory aspects of modernist culture. James Hanley: Modernism and the Working Class is a ground-breaking analysis of this significant but neglected writer whose work opens the way to a new understanding of twentieth-century working-class writing.
John Fordham is an Associate Lecturer at the Open University.
I Formations; 1. Liverpool the non-contemporaneous city; II Romance and reality: James Hanley and the Sea; 2. A writer of the sea; 3. Realism and autobiography; 4. Men in darkness; 5. The sea and industrialization; 6. Hanley and the Conradian paradigm; III Hanley and Modernism; 7. The dialectics of modernism; 8. Modernism and commodity production; 9. Intellectuals and the working-class writer; 10. Language and the working class; 11. The Furys: Modernism and the working class; IV Hanley and Wales; 12. Itinerancy and settlement: political engagement and rural retreat; 13. The Second World War: crisis and resolution; 14. Spiritual homelands: Ireland, Wales and the ideology of exile; 15. Wales versus London: metropolitan and provincial perspectives; 16. Conclusion; Bibliography