This Sporting Life Essay - Critical Evaluation

David Storey

Critical Evaluation

David Storey, a poet, playwright, and novelist, was born in Wakefield, England. A rugby player for Leeds, he bought himself out of his contract before beginning his career as a writer. He has become a noted writer. In 1960, he won the Macmillan prize for This Sporting Life, and he won the 1976 Booker Prize for his novel Saville. He has published many plays, collections of poetry, and dramas. He has also won recognition for his screenplay adaptation of This Sporting Life.

In his novels, Storey places quiet, tough men in opposition to their environments. He comes from the tradition of Kingsley Amis, John Osborne, and others of the Angry Young Man movement in British literature; these writers challenged the class structure of society in their writing.

This Sporting Life is the first of three successive novels that explore the relationship between body and soul with an eventual synthesis of the two. This Sporting Life deals with the body; Flight into Camden (1961) deals with the soul; Radcliffe (1963) synthesizes the duality. The protagonist of This Sporting Life can express himself physically on the rugby pitch, breaking opposition and returning to the fray even after serious injury. He is, however, incapable of expressing his gentler feelings, especially his love for Mrs. Hammond. Instead, he cajoles, screams, and bullies. Machin cannot express his soul. As loud as he is, when expressing affection and care he is a mute.

This Sporting Life gives an unflinching view of life on a rugby team in a small mill city in Northern England. The play on the rugby pitch is vicious, full of blood, broken bones, and broken men. The setting is bleak, with mills and their emitted smoke making up most of the landscape. Men eat lunch overlooking mill works, and people...

(The entire section is 761 words.)