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The Third English Civil War: David Peace's "Occult History" of Thatcherism

The Third English Civil War: David Peace's "Occult History" of Thatcherism M AT T H E W H A R T ublished to wide acclaim in 2004, David Peace's GB84 is "a fiction . . . based upon [the] fact" of the 1984­85 miners' strike, when Margaret Thatcher's government defeated a strike action by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), long recognized as the militant vanguard of the trades union movement.1 My goal in this essay is to show how the political vision of GB84 informs its generic and formal qualities. The first and longer section of what follows therefore deals with the novel's paranoid ambience and its status as a work of historical fiction, reading Peace's self-described "occult" style as an intensifying device 1. In 1972, an NUM strike caused power cuts across Britain, leading the government to establish a shortened working week (the infamous "three-day week") in a bid to preserve energy. The pressure thus caused allowed the union to negotiate improved pay and bonuses. A second NUM strike in 1974 led Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath to call a snap election--which he lost--on the question "Who Governs Britain?" By beginning with a government conspiracy, Peace implies that the 1984­85 strike was not caused by NUM militancy http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Contemporary Literature University of Wisconsin Press

The Third English Civil War: David Peace's "Occult History" of Thatcherism

Contemporary Literature , Volume 49 (4) – Apr 30, 2009

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University of Wisconsin Press
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Copyright © University of Wisconsin Press
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1548-9949
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Abstract

M AT T H E W H A R T ublished to wide acclaim in 2004, David Peace's GB84 is "a fiction . . . based upon [the] fact" of the 1984­85 miners' strike, when Margaret Thatcher's government defeated a strike action by the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM), long recognized as the militant vanguard of the trades union movement.1 My goal in this essay is to show how the political vision of GB84 informs its generic and formal qualities. The first and longer section of what follows therefore deals with the novel's paranoid ambience and its status as a work of historical fiction, reading Peace's self-described "occult" style as an intensifying device 1. In 1972, an NUM strike caused power cuts across Britain, leading the government to establish a shortened working week (the infamous "three-day week") in a bid to preserve energy. The pressure thus caused allowed the union to negotiate improved pay and bonuses. A second NUM strike in 1974 led Conservative Prime Minister Edward Heath to call a snap election--which he lost--on the question "Who Governs Britain?" By beginning with a government conspiracy, Peace implies that the 1984­85 strike was not caused by NUM militancy

Journal

Contemporary LiteratureUniversity of Wisconsin Press

Published: Apr 30, 2009

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