Alan Sillitoe

Alan Sillitoe is the author of many novels and of a collection of short stories, Second Chance, published in 1981.

Writing and Publishing

Alan Sillitoe, 1 April 1982

Most of my first literary influences – if they can be called such – came from the cinema. I remember some time during the early Forties seeing a film, one of those ‘B’ pictures from Hollywood, which had for its subject the life of the great British prime minister, Benjamin Disraeli. The scene that comes back is during a debate in the House of Commons on some great issue, when Disraeli sat with eyes closed, seemingly asleep, while the Leader of the Opposition, probably Mr Gladstone, went through his speech. Disraeli appeared to sleep, and not to hear what his chief adversary had to say. His own speech was already prepared, and he did not care to be influenced by whatever argument might be brought against the ideas he intended to put forward. Perhaps, not so much a mark of self-assurance, it was merely a mannerism to confound his enemies, but it made an impression on me because my consciousness found such a tactic congenial. Otherwise, why remember an incident from a film of so long ago, when scores more are totally forgotten? This, I thought, as Disraeli rested with hand on chin, or lay back nonchalantly on the hard seat, is the way to deal with those who might be against me. The incident struck me because it depicted the action of an individual who had faith in himself in an age which seemed to have considered it a virtue. Not to be particularly interested in what his opponent was saying exhibited the profound conviction of his own beliefs. Did not the poet King David say: ‘Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward and put to confusion, that desire my hurt’?

Deep down

Julian Symons, 28 June 1990

What is it really about, and why was it written like this? The questions are never unreasonable when confronted with works that suggest the possibility of other meanings present beneath the...

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True Stories

Michael Irwin, 30 March 1989

Fiction derives from facts as paper derives from trees, but in either case the transformation can be left incomplete. While many a novel of the past twenty years or so has hinted or advertised...

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South Yorkshire Republic

Beatrix Campbell, 4 June 1987

It is in poor old times like these that wordsmiths turn their minds to the collective state of the nation. We are driven to ask ourselves who we are, and who is ‘them’, and who is...

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Was Carmen brainwashed?

Patrick Parrinder, 5 December 1985

Is there a law of gender among fictional narratives, according to which some types are characteristically male and others characteristically female? This question – posed by some recent...

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D.A.N. Jones, 20 December 1984

There is a seaside resort in New South Wales, with a ferry connection to Sydney. In 1788 it was named Manly Cove by a state governor, impressed by the proud bearing of the aborigines. They seem...

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Mystery and Imagination

Stephen Bann, 17 November 1983

Tales of the supernatural have come a long way over the past two decades. When Fontana published their collections of ‘Great Ghost Stories’ in the early 1960s, it might have seemed as...

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Mixed Blood

D.A.N. Jones, 2 December 1982

It was surprising to see the resemblances between Her Victory and This Earth of Mankind. Alan Sillitoe’s new novel is about 50-year-old Britons feeling rootless. Pramoedya Ananta Toer is...

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Live Entertainment

D.J. Enright, 6 December 1979

‘It isn’t easy to talk about storytelling … Explanations only mystify. Sophisticated people may be able to explain their way out of mystification, and good luck to them, but a...

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