• Anarchy for the UK

    Alison Baker (see profile)
    Speculative and Science Fiction
    Great Britain, History, Children's literature, Literature and history, Popular culture--Study and teaching, Popular music, Young adult literature
    Item Type:
    Conference paper
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    Conf. Date:
    August 2017
    protest, punk, squatting, Thatcherism, British history, History and literature, Popular culture studies, Popular Music Studies
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    De Larrabeiti’s Borribles children’s/young adult fantasy trilogy was written and published between 1976 and 1986, a period of huge political, social and economic change in the UK. Set in London, it tells the story of Borribles, a group of children who have had a ‘bad start’ in life and become Borrible; ‘wild’ children with pointed ears who can never grow up. They squat in abandoned buildings and live by their wits, while the police and other adults seek to destroy their communal, anti-capitalist ways of life. In the early 1980s the UK punk movement evolved into the football fan/ skinhead Oi movement, Goth, indie and the more political anarchist punk movement of such bands as Crass, Hagar the Womb and the Poison Girls, coming out of communes, squats and protests against the miners’ strike, the Falklands and the anti-police riots. Songs such as Crass’s ‘Sheep Farming in the Falklands’ and Hagar the Womb’s ‘Dressed to Kill’ commented on international politics, social structures and economics of the time. The movement was broadly anti-consumerist and anti-capitalist. The Borribles sing songs to celebrate victories and as exhortions to action, as well as to comment on the action, in the style of Bertholt Brecht’s Verfremdungseffekt; while Tolkien used it in his epic quest fantasies, they can alienate the reader in a mimetic depiction of London; as I state in a previous presentation , The Borribles (1976) is an epic quest across London with geographical and mythical beast hazards replaced by urban features. While I will not argue that Michael de Larrabeiti was influenced by, or was an influence on, the punk movement, their shared political concerns and anger provide an additional context to the trilogy. I will take a new historicist approach to discuss punk and The Borribles as political responses to the Thatcher government of the 1980s and contemporary cultural concerns.
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    6 years ago
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