chapter  6
Alan Sillitoe
Pages 16

In comparison with the writers discussed in the previous pages, Alan Sillitoe (1928-) has made relatively few allusions to sport in his written work.2

However, in several of his writings he is, I think, more emphatically and unambiguously anti-sport than any other modern British novelist. The one thing that Sillitoe has in common with the writers considered in previous chapters is that he has never regarded himself as a sportsman. Yet his 1959 novella The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (the title of the book conceals the fact that it is a collection of short stories) is frequently alluded to as a classic of sports literature. Critics have hailed this prize-winning work as ‘more impressive’ than his slightly earlier but equally well known book, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and (for what it is worth) Roger Robinson rates it as the third best ever work of running fiction.3 Moreover, it has been argued that Sillitoe, more than any other novelist, ‘has explored in depth the existential possibilities of the metaphor’ of long-distance running.4