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Boy (Oneworld Classics) par James Hanley
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Boy (Oneworld Classics) (original 1931; édition 2007)

par James Hanley (Auteur)

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1123196,124 (3.38)4
Acclaimed by luminaries such as William Faulkner, suppressed for more than 50 years by a prosecution for obscenity, James Hanley's 1930s classic charts the short and brutish life of a boy forced out of school and into the unforgiving world of work.
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Titre:Boy (Oneworld Classics)
Auteurs:James Hanley (Auteur)
Info:Oneworld Classics (2007), 300 pages
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Mots-clés:from-english

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Boy par James Hanley (1931)

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» Voir aussi les 4 mentions

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Well this wasn't exactly a cheerful read! In fact, I've rarely read such a tale of unremitting gloom and misery. The story is a simple one and the book is short. The 'boy' of the title, Arthur Fearon, is a sensitive working-class boy from a poor Liverpool family who is forced to leave school before the official leaving age of fourteen by his family's circumstances. As a good scholar, he had dreams of becoming a chemist, but he is put to work by his father on one of the worst jobs available: cleaning out the bilges and the boilers of the many ships in port. Hating the work and his workmates, as well as wanting to escape his abusive and violent father, he stows away on a ship, intending to go to America. But the ship he chooses is bound east rather than west, and Arthur is discovered before the voyage is half over. Rather than being put ashore, the death of a crewman means that the Captain agrees to sign him on as an ordinary seaman for the duration of the voyage, but Arthur soon discovers that he has merely substituted one type of abuse for another as several of his shipmates try to abuse him sexually, 'boys' being considered fair game by a number of the seamen. And when the ship docks in Alexandria, events transpire to ensure that there will be no relief from the boy's life of unrelenting misery.

I have to say that I didn't enjoy Boy. I could have coped with the bleakness of the story if I'd found it to be well written, but to be honest I didn't. The conversational language used was stilted and artificial, and just didn't sound like realistic speech. And the boy seemed to exist too much in a vacuum: it would have been a better book if there had been even just one friend or relative with whom he had a positive relationship. A lot of the characters onboard ship were fairly indistinguishable, which didn't help my enjoyment of the book.

Boy is presented by Oneworld Classics in my edition as an 'unjustly neglected work of enduring significance', but apart from a daring frankness (for its time) I cannot personally see what it is that would make it of enduring significance. Boy was prosecuted for obscenity in the UK in 1931, but there is nothing in it that would cause particular comment today. So not a great one for me. ( )
1 voter SandDune | Jun 28, 2013 |
Crudely written (Hanley claimed he wrote it in ten days) but absorbing tale of a naive and physically frail boy, Arthur Fearon, who, tiring of his father's brutality, flees his home in Liverpool for a life at sea, stowing away on the ship The Hernian. On ship he is mistreated in every imaginable way by the crew, and yet survives and takes the job of lookout when the sailor in that position dies as the result of an accident. Arthur wants to learn and adapt to his new surroundings, but his tenure as a sailor is cut short when he contracts an illness. Arthur's tragedy is all the more poignant because he is so obviously not suited for any of the options that life presents to him. This book was the subject of obscenity charges upon its publication in England. ( )
  icolford | Aug 14, 2011 |
A novel which had to be published privately in order to escape the wrath of the censors, this novel is a graphic and truthful account of a boy going to sea ( )
  GlenRalph | Jul 3, 2009 |
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Acclaimed by luminaries such as William Faulkner, suppressed for more than 50 years by a prosecution for obscenity, James Hanley's 1930s classic charts the short and brutish life of a boy forced out of school and into the unforgiving world of work.

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