UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

The presentation of morality in the novels of Kingsley Amis Laine, Michael


The thesis examines the novels of the young British writer, Kingsley Amis, and attempts to assess his contribution to the modern novel in terms of the moral code which he presents and in terms of his success in presenting it. Chapter One dissociates Amis from the myth of the "Angry Young Men" and shows that he himself will not be placed in any movement. The chapter goes on to discuss his position as a satirist and illustrates his requirement that satire have a moral basis. At this point certain parallels with the work of Fielding are discussed. The chapter shows how much the moral position depends upon seeing Amis's heroes as decent, and tentatively defines decency as it appears to him. Chapter Two shows how much the hero of each novel conforms to the definition of decency and examines his behaviour in order to establish the code that he actually follows. The development of the hero is discussed, as is the extent to which Amis allows him to exceed the limits of decency. The chapter concludes by suggesting that Amis cannot present any ultimate solution to the problem of how the decent man is to find a place in society and maintain loyalty to his code. Amis's increased understanding of the influence of love is discussed and the chapter suggests that any future development will be dependent upon the acknowledgement of this aspect of human relations. Chapter Three deals with the effectiveness of Amis's technique and argues that, although the comic technique aids in the presentation of the hero as l'homme moyen sensual, flat language and the repetition of certain devices distracts the reader from the complexities of the moral problems faced by Amis's heroes. Chapter Four concludes the thesis by reassessing the moral position and the technique used in presenting it. It suggests that Amis has a tenable moral position, but that he does not succeed in presenting it to the reader in such a way that it can be seen to be of value as it applies to the way that men like his heroes can operate within their society.

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