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Culture in Crisis begins with political and social history at the moment of the election of Margaret Thatcher. Many saw in this event the dissolution of the ideal of the liberal State once believed to be shared by both the Left and the Right. Ranging widely over such writers as Anthony Powell, John LeCarre, Samuel Selvon, Salman Rushdie, and Margaret Drabble, Harper examines various responses to this “crisis” which he shows to have roots in a pernicious ideal of “Englishness” going back many generations. With considerable skill and a masterful grasp of books and ideas, he presents the novel as a lightning rod for broader concerns about the Real—the possibilities of its representation and its inevitable vulnerability to exclusionism and denial. This book was nearing completion in 2006 when Professor Harper died suddenly of pancreatic cancer. Its relevance to our own era could not be more salient.

Publication Date



Claremont Colleges Library




Intellectual History of the UK 1970-2000, Literary Criticism: Modern and Contemporary British, British Late Twentieth-Century Cultural Studies


Arts and Humanities | Cultural History | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles


Michael Harper was Professor of English at Scripps College, serving in the English Department and the Core Humanities Program from 1980-2006.

Culture in Crisis: The English Novel in the Late Twentieth Century is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Book image CC-BY 2.0 Kurtis Garbutt, Reading in the Park, on Flickr.

Culture in Crisis: The English Novel in the Late Twentieth Century