Conclusion “Getting at the darkness”
Poststructuralism and naturalism in literature, television and film in the 1980s
in The Blunt Affair
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The concluding chapter offers a reconsideration of the literary canon of the 1980s, assessing the political and social concerns of literature about the Cambridge spies in relation to both mainstream and experimental theatre and film in the decade (a time when cuts in arts funding threatened to eliminate avant garde theatre), but also in relation to the generation of postmodern novelists that emerged in the 1980s. This situation created a fruitful context in which to rethink the merits of social realism or “naturalist” drama in an era when magical realism gained ascendancy. Critical estimations of 1980s literature show an inordinate valuation of the new generation of writers emerging in the 1980s, those hyped in Granta’s “best novelists under forty” in 1983. This divergence in literary practice was largely generational. The authors who responded to the Blunt Affair and the late Cold War were typically born in the 1930s. They came of age during the first Cold War and were subject to the National Service Act, which meant a suspension of life, a postponement of university careers, and in some cases marriage and sexual initiation, arguably leading to resentment against this imposition of servitude. They worked in theatre, film and television, and were subject to different commercial demands and aesthetic pressures that ultimately ran counter to the poststructuralist tendencies of the novel. The works related to the Cambridge spies aimed to meet this urgent need to communicate clearly and to use drama as a means of questioning and challenging the prevailing political climate.

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