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The fiction of John Buchan with particular reference to the Richard Hannay novels.

Macdonald, Kate; (1991) The fiction of John Buchan with particular reference to the Richard Hannay novels. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D.), University College London. Green open access

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Abstract

In this thesis I Intend to show that although by the outbreak of the First World War John Buchan had been a successful writer for twenty years, his career underwent a vital change after 1915 and the success of his best-selling thriller The Thirty-Nine Steps. Chapter one analyses in detail the publishing history of The Thirty-Nine Steps, and the best-seller status of the early thrillers of John Buchan. Under four sub-headings, I examine the content of the sales figures and the readership of Buchan's best-sellers, using primary source material from the publishers' archives and from unpublished letters and memoirs from the First World War. I go on to discuss the reasons for the lasting popularity of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Buchan's new elements in that novel, and examine his role in the development of the thriller. In chapter two I look at two of Buchan's protagonists, contrasting his new hero of The Thirty-Nine Steps. Richard Hannay, with Sir Quixote of the Moors (1895) and the idea of the stranger in the familiar land. In chapter three, I examine Buchan's construction of narrative, developing new narratological types to define Buchan's growing complexities of narration in the Hannay novels. Chapter four explores Buchan's use of characters, the different social worlds he developed for his three principal protagonists - Hannay, Leithen and Dickson McCunn - and the effect of recurrence In background characters. Buchan's Identity as a Scottish writer is discussed in chapter five, dealing with the Scottish Renaissance, vernacular poetry, Kailyard and Buchan's role as a public Scot. His fiction is examined with particular reference to the Scottish elements of language, history and religion. In chapter six I look at Buchan's portrayal of the women characters in his fiction, particularly their roles as redeemers, spurs, and voices, counterpointing the Buchan heroes. In the conclusion, I reiterate the importance of the 1915 change in Buchan's writing, and how his novels were redirected towards the thriller. I show how the advent of his new thriller hero, Hannay, was seminal in shaping the new genre. I conclude this thesis with fourteen appendices, including a close look at Buchan's supposed anti-Semitism. I give a new chronological bibliography of all Buchan's fiction, incorporating several rediscovered Buchan short stories. My bibliographies cover fiction, non-fiction, and manuscript sources, with separate lists for the Buchan material.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D.
Title: The fiction of John Buchan with particular reference to the Richard Hannay novels.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by Proquest
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10108253
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