Dockers and Detectives

Dockers and Detectives:Popular Reading, Popular Writing

  • Paperback

Discusses the pattern of working-class reading and writing in Britain.

Ken Worpole's book is an original contribution to a new kind of literary history. In a group of linked studies, he discusses the pattern of working-class reading and writing in Britain. Both in terms of the popular literature discussed, and the ways in which it is produced and absorbed, Worpole's study is of wide relevance.

'Out of the Ghetto' is an account of a group of radical Jewish writers in the East End of London, the culture that sustained them and the politics of the left in the 1930s. The dispersal of that culture through war and economic development forced those writers westward into the vapid cosmopolitanism of Bloomsbury in the post-war years.

The enormous international influence of American detective fiction in creating a new, urban male style is sympathetically yet critically assessed in 'The American Connection'. Worpole charts the simultaneously liberating and limiting effects of these new formal conventions—in the novels of Chandler, Hammett and Hemingway —on worker writers. In 'Expressionism and Working-Class Fiction' the writing of a group of Liverpool seamen is rediscovered, a fiction of displacement and migration, very different from the received image of proletarian realism. And in 'The Popular Literature of the Second World War' Worpole examines the role of war books of all kinds in constructing popular memories of the nation at war, and their exploitation in current political debates.

Dockers and Detectives gives us a rare glimpse into a largely unknown cultural world; it will fascinate the specialist and general reader alike.