On Saturday night packs



Comment on the book “Saturday Night, Sunday Morning”, by Alan Sillitoe.

Exactly 64 years ago, in 1957, English professor Richard Hoggart (1918-2014) published a brick of more than 400 pages, the now classic The Uses of Literacy, translated into several languages ​​(in Portugal it received the title of The Uses of Culture and in French La Culture du Pauvre) and with a meaningful subtitle: “Aspects of Working Class Life (with special reference to publications and entertainments). "

Hoggart is the author of a vast body of work involving sociology, English literature, cultural studies, with an emphasis on British popular culture. Coming from a working-class family from around Leeds, he taught at a number of prestigious academic institutions and founded, in 1964, the Center for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) at the University of Birmingham.

Em The Uses of Literacy studies the culture of the English popular classes over 30 or 40 years, that is, from approximately 1915-1920 until the mid-1950s. part of the population, recognizing, however, that a study devoted to other forms of leisure – such as commercial cinema, television or radio – would lead to similar conclusions.

Hoggart explores the imagery of the "common man", the contradictory myths of the "rough vigor" and "feminine sweetness" of the common people, as well as the "class consciousness" of the working classes commonly extolled and idealized by sociologists, journalists and others. intellectuals who study popular culture. For him, such class segments consumed an increasingly mass and alienating culture.

I wrote the previous lines because, I understand, they are directly related to the Saturday night, Sunday morning, by Alan Sillitoe (1928-2010), published in England in the autumn of 1958, immediately gaining enormous success with the public and critics. Sillitoe's debut novel – author of 80 books, comprising novels, short stories, poems, essays, children's, compilations, autobiography, plays, film scripts, etc. – portrays the life of members of the working class with their day-to-day life without great charm and marked by a series of difficulties. Arthur Seaton, the central character, is 21 years old and works all day on a lathe. At night, especially on weekends, he takes the opportunity to have fun drinking endless mugs of beer and having love affairs with two married women.

Written in 1956-57 in Mallorca, the book was rejected by four publishers. Although not an autobiographical novel, the story reflects the atmosphere in which Sillitoe was raised. Born in Nottingham, he dropped out of school at 14 to work in a bicycle factory and at 17 was an air traffic control assistant at a military airport. During the Second World War he traveled as a telegraph operator, having lived between 1952 and 1956 in France and Spain. Saturday night, Sunday morning e The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (1959), his most famous books, were made into films.

Arthur, while working on his lathe, performing standardized and repetitive operations, being paid per piece produced, is “building his castles in sand” and thinking about pleasant things, because his job does not provide him with great satisfaction. Sometimes he fancies himself quite rich; but usually he doesn't forget that after 8 hours of work he's going to take a nice shower, quickly gulp down his dinner, put on a nice outfit – dressing well is, for him, a point of honor –, down a few beers and go see Brenda in some woods or dark alley nearby. Arthur is just one of the cornerstones of the quintet, which is completed by Brenda and her husband Jack (toolsmiths, Arthur's work colleague and passionate about horse racing on the weekends), with Winnie (Brenda's sister) and Bill, who military service in Germany.

Arthur knows he needs to produce well above average to gain the extra pounds and get on with his life. However, if he overdoes it with production, his colleagues will marginalize him, which is why he tempers it: in the morning he does his best, satisfies the production inspector and, little by little, slows down, so as to be slightly above normal. Thus, he digs a few pounds more and spares himself physically in the afternoon.

Saturday night, Sunday morning, despite not having anything exceptional, is very well written and manages to hold the reader's attention. The less demanding ones will find classic scenes, similar to a comedy of boulevard: Arthur meets with Brenda and, hours later, is in Winnie's cozy bed; Jack, scheduled for the night shift, arrives early and forces Brenda into a series of contortions to get Arthur to slip away; Bill, after giving Winnie a "correction", goes out with another brute colleague in pursuit of Arthur.

In addition, good-humored Arthur, who lives with his parents, loves to tease his old man, tell him fibs and distort the headlines of sensationalist newspapers read by the English working class. On the other hand, the most demanding ones will verify that Richard Hoggart was probably right when he affirmed that the majority of the working class in developed capitalism did not want great involvement with politics and with the unions if they managed to reach a reasonable salary level, which would allow them to buy, with difficulties , a good TV set – it should not be forgotten that Sillitoe's book is from 1958.

The geographic space in which the workers circulated rarely went beyond the limits of the neighborhood. So, the encounters between the lovers always ended up taking place near the factory or the house, in clubs or pubs where games and beer predominate, with one of the parties often resolving the situation with brute force (Bill and his Army colleague break up Arthur after an alcoholic night out); the tension provoked by the feverish pace, physical exhaustion and premature aging already manifests itself in men before the age of 30 (Jack, at 29, already has a constantly frowning and lackluster face).

This captivating debut novel by Alan Sillitoe, devoid of heroes and clichés, is a faithful portrait – an almost documentary – of the English working class of the 1950s, in which the class struggle is practically put in the background and the well-being of to be “possible”, in a capitalist regime, to the class is assured. Marx already stated that the reproduction of the workforce is guaranteed by the salary paid to the workers, and that this salary must be determined by the needs of a given individual. record low, variable in each country, which ensures the survival of individuals and their families: “We must not forget beer for English workers and wine for French workers”. By the way, it is worth mentioning, the smell of English beers impregnates the almost 300 pages of this pleasant Saturday night, Sunday morning.

*Afranio Catani is a retired professor at USP and visiting professor at UFF.

This article is a version, with some changes, of the review published in the extinct “Caderno de Programas e Leituras” of the Jornal da Tarde in 12.02.1983.


HOGGART, Richard. The Uses of Literacy: Aspects of Working Class Life (with special reference to publications and entertainments). London, Chato and Windus.

SILLITOE, Alan. Saturday night, Sunday morning. Translation: Aulydde S. Rodrigues. Rio de Janeiro: Guanabara.


See this link for all articles


  • About artificial ignoranceEugenio Bucci 15/06/2024 By EUGÊNIO BUCCI: Today, ignorance is not an uninhabited house, devoid of ideas, but a building full of disjointed nonsense, a goo of heavy density that occupies every space
  • Franz Kafka, libertarian spiritFranz Kafka, libertarian spirit 13/06/2024 By MICHAEL LÖWY: Notes on the occasion of the centenary of the death of the Czech writer
  • The society of dead historyclassroom similar to the one in usp history 16/06/2024 By ANTONIO SIMPLICIO DE ALMEIDA NETO: The subject of history was inserted into a generic area called Applied Human and Social Sciences and, finally, disappeared into the curricular drain
  • A look at the 2024 federal strikelula haddad 20/06/2024 By IAEL DE SOUZA: A few months into government, Lula's electoral fraud was proven, accompanied by his “faithful henchman”, the Minister of Finance, Fernando Haddad
  • Letter to the presidentSquid 59mk,g 18/06/2024 By FRANCISCO ALVES, JOÃO DOS REIS SILVA JÚNIOR & VALDEMAR SGUISSARDI: “We completely agree with Your Excellency. when he states and reaffirms that 'Education is an investment, not an expense'”
  • Strengthen PROIFESclassroom 54mf 15/06/2024 By GIL VICENTE REIS DE FIGUEIREDO: The attempt to cancel PROIFES and, at the same time, turn a blind eye to the errors of ANDES management is a disservice to the construction of a new representation scenario
  • PEC-65: independence or patrimonialism in the Central Bank?Campos Neto Trojan Horse 17/06/2024 By PEDRO PAULO ZAHLUTH BASTOS: What Roberto Campos Neto proposes is the constitutional amendment of free lunch for the future elite of the Central Bank
  • Chico Buarque, 80 years oldchico 19/06/2024 By ROGÉRIO RUFINO DE OLIVEIRA: The class struggle, universal, is particularized in the refinement of constructive intention, in the tone of proletarian proparoxytones
  • Why are we on strike?statue 50g 20/06/2024 By SERGIO STOCO: We have reached a situation of shortage of federal educational institutions
  • The strike at federal Universities and Institutescorridor glazing 01/06/2024 By ROBERTO LEHER: The government disconnects from its effective social base by removing those who fought against Jair Bolsonaro from the political table