Abstract

This essay seeks to make and substantiate a bold claim: that Not Not While the Giro, published in 1983, is the most distinguished set of short stories issued in the United Kingdom since World War Two. Furthermore, even if other collections — by Sylvia Townshend Warner, Elizabeth Bowen, John Fowles, V. S. Pritchett, Alan Sillitoe, Elizabeth Taylor, and Angela Carter, for example — were felt to be of greater artistic merit, Kelman’s should still be regarded as the most important, capturing as it does with an urgency worthy of its subject the decline of working-class male culture in the ‘postindustrial’ Britain in the last quarter of the twentieth century. This discussion sees the collection in very general evaluative terms, therefore. In particular, before it turns to Kelman’s stories in detail, it needs to establish the political and aesthetic background to their success, and to explore how the political and the aesthetic ultimately found their places and proportions in his achievement.

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