Masculinity in Literature

Released Thursday, 20th January 2000
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Melvyn Bragg investigates masculinity in literature. Ernest Hemingway wrote in The Old Man and the Sea, “A man can be destroyed but not defeated”. In a time when traditional male roles have been systematically challenged it is a sentiment that seems to come from a strangely distant past, and the men that inhabit fiction today can seem a world away from Hemingway’s brave heroes - although we must remember James Bond and Hannibal Lecter. But has there been a change in the last century in literary fiction or does that one strand not stand for more than a small part of the equation? One of the successful liberating movements of the twentieth century was the increasing enfranchisement of women. Accompanying, perhaps consequent on this, in some fiction at any rate, were signs of the de-testosteroning of man. Are the ideals of masculinity that underlie the portrayal of men by today’s authors so very different from the images of men from earlier in the twentieth century? And is there a British literary ideal of man that is at odds with its American counterpart?With Martin Amis, author of Money, Success and The Information; Cora Kaplan, feminist cultural critic and Professor of English, Southampton University.

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28m 11s

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