• Ben Knights


In this book I approach the subject of the constitution and maintenance of masculine identities from an oblique angle. I do not intend to review in detail current debates about masculinity.1 Instead my argument seeks to complement theoretical and historical discussions by focusing on the subject of narrative, grounding that discussion in the analysis of a selection of (mostly) twentieth-century novels. In this Introduction I shall give a brief account of what the book aims to do. I shall start by indicating the presuppositions and beliefs from which it emerges. Then I shall sketch the shape of the book and the course its argument will take.


Masculine Identity Historical Discussion Masculine Norm Literary Fiction Guerrilla Warfare 
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  1. 4.
    Compare Gregory Bateson, Steps to an Ecology of Mind (St Albans: Paladin, 1973). An anthropological view of the mutuality of knowledge is well-described by Carrithers (1992), for example ch. 4.Google Scholar
  2. 5.
    Claire Pajaczkowska, ‘The Heterosexual Presumption’ (1981) repr. in The Sexual Subject: a Screen Reader in Sexuality (London: Routledge, 1992).Google Scholar
  3. 7.
    I am drawing here particularly on Anderson (1991), and more generally on Linda Colley’s Britons: Forging the Nation 1701–1837 (London: Pimlico, 1992) on the rhetorical construction of nationhood. Tölölyan’s essay is relevant as he explores revenge as a cultural institution and the ‘iconic centrality’ in the eyes of a community to be gained by the individual life in becoming the exemplar of a master narrative (Tölölyan, 1989, pp. 105,108–9, 111). See also Eve Kosovsky Sedgwick’s paper ‘Nationalisms and Sexualities’, in Sedgwick (1994).Google Scholar
  4. 8.
    This process finds poetic representation in many of the poems in Ken Smith’s (1987) Wormwood (Newcastle: Bloodaxe); and in poems like ‘Rough Job’ or ‘The Inspection’ in Fred Voss’s (1991) collection Goodstone (Newcastle: Bloodaxe).Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    A paradigmatic example is developed in Lilian Smith’s classic study of racial oppression, Killers of the Dream (London: Cresset Press, 1950), for example Part 3, ch. 2, “Two men and a bargain”.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ben Knights 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ben Knights
    • 1
  1. 1.University of TeessideUK

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