Friday, 27 March 2009

Friday's Forgotten Book - Saturday Night And Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe


Alan Sillitoe was born in Nottingham in 1928 and his first novel 'Saturday Night And Sunday Morning' was published in 1958.
Alan Sillitoe was one of those writers who were labelled as 'Angry Young Men' in the late Fifties and early Sixties.
Though the novel is not exactly 'forgotten' as people recall reading it or seeing the movie - so maybe, it should be a forgotten read.
'Saturday Night And Sunday Morning' is a raw and aggressive book that centres around an insecure anti-hero called Arthur Seaton. He is the 'angry young man' of his time who works at a lathe in the Raleigh Bicycle Factory in Nottingam. (Alan Sillitoe worked there when he left school at the age of 14 before he joined the RAF). He hates his job but is good at it - so good that he earns more than his collegues.
Come Saturday night and he drinks away part of his wage packet and winds up either falling down drunk or in a fight.
Arthur Seaton is having an affair with a workmate's wife Brenda and pretty soon is bedding her sister, Winnie. The bulk of the novel concerns his relationships with these two women and his anger at the world in general. He wants people to accept him for who he is - not for what people say about him.
Into his life walks Doreen - an innocent compared to the other women in his life. He can't believe his luck so continues with his relationships with the other two women. Inevitably he gets found out by Winnie's husband and Athur gets beaten up.
So begins the second part of the book when Arthur wakes up on 'Sunday Morning' to find Doreen at his bedside. He confesses all to her and, gradually, Brenda and Winnie fade away as Doreen accepts Arthur for who he is and they plan for the future.
Why is this book still important today?
For the historian - there is the descriptive passages of what life was like in the real life Raleigh Bicycle Factory before automation took over. The day-to-day politics of the working man's life on and off the factory floor.
For the reader - uncompromising descriptive passages that range from the humour of Arthur Seaton taking his revenge on the local gossip to the harrowing attempted abortion scene in a bath of scalding water and a bottle of gin.
Finally, there is the character of Arthur Seaton - if he existed today he would have had an ASBO on him which would have been far easier than trying to understand him.

2 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Never read the book but I sure loved the movie. Thanks for reminding me of it.

Paul Brazill said...

Great book!