The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner
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The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner

3.81 of 5 stars 3.81  ·  rating details  ·  2,444 ratings  ·  165 reviews
Perhaps one of the most revered works of fiction in the twentieth-century, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner is a modern classic about integrity, courage, and bucking the system. Its title story recounts the story of a reform school cross-country runner who seizes the perfect opportunity to defy the authority that governs his life. It is a pure masterpiece. From t...more
Mass Market Paperback, 88 pages
Published by reclam (first published 1959)
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Evan
If you're thinking this is a sports book from the title, think again. It's a compendium of short stories about lives lived in the mind-numbing milieu and despair of lower-class urban industrial Britain after WWII in the '40s and '50s. It is full of life and anger and sadness. And the voices are vibrant even as they sound tired and resigned. This comes right off the pages, in an intimate way. Written in the vernacular and speech patterns of the locals. These are honest and sad stories: enlighteni...more
Kris
This is one of the best collections of short stories, by an artist I'd never heard of, that I have ever read. Sillitoe was born and raised in Nottingham, England, in a working-class family. At the age of 14 he left school and went to work with his father in a local bicycle factory. The stories in this collection mostly deal with families like Sillitoe's - poor factory workers living in cramped, dirty houses where the noise, soot and grime of the nearby factory is a constant part of their lives.
T...more
Sam
I want to qualify this rating by saying that the title story in this collection is fantastic, and a few of the others were lovely in their own way. But there's a feeling of smallness in these stories, and the characters - with the notable exception of the runner in the first story - tend to get crushed under the wheel of plot machinations. Especially for a writer who's acclaimed for giving life to working-class protagonists who usually get ignored in british lit, it seems like he doesn't have a...more
Keirstan
I’ll admit it, I bought and read Alan Sillitoe’s short story collection The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner purely on the basis of the Vintage edition’s attractive cover. As a long-distance runner myself, the bold prominence of the activity’s name paired with the background image of the runner inspired me to read Sillitoe’s stories of working class British life between the World Wars right away.

The highlight of this collection is most certainly the eponymous lead off story, “The Lonelines...more
Alison
Some of these stories of working class lives in the first half of the 20th century almost made me cry. This is one of the saddest books I have ever read; not because it contains so much misery but rather because it is so brilliantly described that it feels so real.

Reading this book it's also amazing to think how much life in Britain has changed over the past fifty years. From leaving school at fourteen to get a series of jobs in factories, to playing with sticks and stones and climbing walls be...more
Nikoleta
Mar 06, 2014 Nikoleta rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nikoleta by: Мила
Тази година добрите книги идват от Мила.

"Самотният бегач на дълго разстояние" е най-хубавото нещо, което съм чела през последната година и половина. Говоря за новелата, защото тя наклони везните и ги обърна, и ги строши. Някои книги ни връщат към нас си.

Вярно, права е Кремена, като пише, че философията е по детски инатлива и опърничава. Но на мен все пак ми хареса, сигурно, защото тайно не желая да пораствам, а да си правя каквото поискам: да къмпингувам на пода в хола, да ходя боса по нагрятия...more
Кремена Михайлова
Преди 25 години повече ми хареса „Самотният бегач“. А другите разкази не помня да съм чела тогава. Защо не ми хареса толкова разказът „Самотният бегач на дълги разстояния“ сега. Защото може да съм си останала „самотен бегач“, но това все повече ми харесва и не ми пречи. Защото вече не съм на дълги разстояния, а на по-късички, стига с напъването и борбите тип „анти“. Защото онази огромна социална безизходица я няма вече нито в Англия, нито дори в България надявам се… (Успокоих се, че времената на...more
Jeff Scott
Runner

Very bleak stories dealing with loneliness and desperation. They are beautiful and well-rounded stories that at times reminded me of Winesburg, Ohio.

A young man takes to long distance running to escape life in juvenile detention. The officials praise how his participation has turned him around, but the runner proves they can't control him.

An old man buys lunch for two girls just so he won't be alone. An ex-wife keeps asking for her husbands favorite picture, just to see him buy it back fro...more
Martin
The 1962 film "Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" is my favorite of the British New Wave, which is why a friend lent me this short story collection. I love the Northern accent and slang, so I often read very slowly in order to absorb as much as I could. This volume was a perfect encapsulation of a specific time and place, northern England before and a bit after the war. The language was evocative and I could picture everything perfectly. It's a wonder more of these stories weren't translate...more
ann
I bought this book because I was attracted to the title, but only realized after the fact that it's an anthology. The first story for which it's titled sets the tone for the whole series of stories; all of which have to do with antagonism between working class characters and Authority...whether that authority be upper-class, the police, or family hierarchy.
The remainder of the stories are vignettes of working class life. Most of them are tragedies. That's not to say they're all tear-jerkers wit...more
Sophia
I was mandated to read this for Ethics class - well, the first, titular short story (and for that matter, it's not exactly Ethics so much as "Studies in Literature" with a focus on morality) - and I have to say, I was surprised by how much I liked these stories.

Sure, I'm not generally a fan of short stories, but this collection was kind of different. My main issue is that I take a long time to break into the setting and exposition like a good pair of shoes. I have to reread the first pages a lit...more
Mike Jensen
One of the great novellas to come from post-war Britain, a brilliant exercise in sustained narrative and characterization, an utterly compelling voice. Thematically, it may be summed as “to thine own self be true,” but the story messes with your head because the protagonist is a horrible person. It is admirable that he is so true to himself, but his is a self best changed. The short stories that accompany the novella are merely very good. RUNNER achieves greatness. Read it now.
Brennan Wieland
This was one of those books that I found myself waiting for it to be over. I didn't find it very "readable", and it never grabbed my attention.

The story is about a young boy who had had a history of various petty crimes. One day he and his friend steal from a bakers house, and are found out by a man. He is sent to a prison for juveniles, and when he is there he is forced to do grueling work. It is here where the boy discovers his interest in long-distance running, and he begins to develop in thi...more
Dan
I'd say three stars for the title story, but two for most of the rest.

The title story, a long narrative by an angry, alienated young British man who’s been sent to a Borstal--a juvenile detention center intended to reform or educate juvenile criminals. He is so full of rage that he deliberately makes a choice that is inimical to his own interests. For me, it was a captivating story, although the telling of the story seemed old-fashioned and slightly off-putting. For instance, the author’s decis...more
Nicholas During
Here are real stories of 'class conflict'. The protagonist of the title story has to be one of the great rebels of literature, and an interesting opposite to the Marxist concept of an individual's political (class) consciousness. In fact, he completely rejects the Marxist tradition by emphasizing his individuality--even though the characters in this book are all strongly, proudly, and defiantly English working class, they reject a too-strong group identity, and even perhaps have a certain spirit...more
Jessica
Nov 24, 2007 Jessica rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: larcenous, introspective working-class youth; long distance runners; Iron Maiden fans?
I am reading this based on Rachel's recommendation, and also because of the Iron Maiden song, and maybe a little bit because of the running thing.

So far I'm not crazy about this, but I can't say it hasn't done anything for me because I went for a run this morning along a rural road in 20 degree weather, and didn't even feel that I needed my ipod.... I was just happy to be wearing long pants! So literary merits aside (I'll get back to you; left the book in the city halfway through the first story...more
Lauren
A collection of short stories centered on England’s working class between the 1930s and 1950s, these tales are sparse character studies of sometimes unsentimental protagonists. I enjoyed them, mostly because they captured a time and way of life that is frequently mined in creative works but seldom so deftly sketched – these stories are neither sentimental fluff of the good ole days nor darkly pessimistic tripe. They did, however, remind me a great deal of the novels (A Separate Peace and The Out...more
Leah
As an athlete and as a fan of this sort of book, I really loved this. I like the balance of scope and the intimacy. It was not unlike The Catcher in the Rye in that way, and also as a transitional book: Just as one could argue that Catcher led to The Chocolate War and then the works of Chris Crutcher and thus more and more extreme and explicit and real stories of adolescent angst or what-have-you, you could make a case that Alan Sillitoe paved the way for the likes of A Clockwork Orange and o...more
Daisy
Yes, two stars for this contemporary classic novel. So first the positive things: His role as a rebel was something I liked, also that it was mainly about him, running. I liked that because I like running as well.
Buuut, although Sillitoe grew up in a rough environment as well, the slang he uses in this book doesn't seem authentic to me. Every second word is collegial, slang or just made-up. It looks as if he was trying too hard. Then I don't really get this social war: he wants to stand up again...more
Jesse Markus
I read this because there is an Iron Maiden song by the same title. They actually don't have a whole lot to do with each other. This book is more about a naughty young bloke at a British reform school who's no bloody good for naught but running.
Mia
Nov 21, 2008 Mia rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Iren, Rebecca, Erica, Scott, Beckett, Rosemary
Recommended to Mia by: Dad
I simply couldn't put the first short story in book(the title story) down. So much to deal with in terms of power, socially proscribed roles, making choices that make one feel alive... Excellent. About 50 pages.
Steve
Excellent, if however not quite up to Saturday Night and Sunday Morning.
Peter
The book is a series of short stories that feature those who live on the lower end of the social scale in 1940s (or thereabouts) England. The stories are fairly easy to read, yet only half of them are truly memorable, particularly "The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner" and "Uncle Earnest." Because it is a series of short stories where all of the central characters in the stories have something in common, development isn't too difficult to figure out, yet Sillitoe manages to find different...more
karl
I picked up this book because of the title, for I identify as a long-distance runner. This collection of stories has little to actually do with running. It does, however, have everything to do with loneliness.

The stories depict the often bleak lives of Sillitoe's native Nottingham of the 1950's, an slummy English industrial town. The main character of the title story is a kid sentenced to a borstal (a kind of English reform school) who finds solace and discovers he has a talent in long-distance...more
Hugo Resendiz
The poor neighborhoods of the United Kingdom is where the narrator of this story lives, he’s a young man of 14 years old, taken to a reformatory. This lad has aptitude to run, so they train him to do it, and he found the virtues of freedom, honesty and truth, running the long run. He inspires himself running, to create a plan to show his vision of the England’s post-war situation, social and economically. This book recalls me the series of films of Truffaut that start with the 400 blows, the chi...more
Peter

An authentic salty English working class voice.

Had anybody really captured the essence and mindset of working class British life before Alan Silitoe? D.H.Lawrence had attempted it, George Orwell had examined it but this is the real thing. I guess that the impact and acclaim that this book received upon it's initial release was as a result of that achievement.
Things have changed, life has changed, some of the ingredients listed below persist but though the England of this book (and some of the...more
Jukka
Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner - Alan Sillitoe
This quote pretty much says it. (pg 42):
Because you see I never race at all; I just run, and somehow I know that if i forget I'm racing and only jog-trot along until I don't know I'm running I always win the race. For when my eyes recognize that I'm getting near the end of the course -- by seeing a stile or cottage corner -- I put on a spurt, and such a fast big-spurt it is because I feel that up till then I haven't been running and that I've...more
Michele
This series of short stories reminded me of Trainspotting with its hints of hope glimmering through a pervasive nihilistic attitude adopted by the young people in the text.

In Sillitoe's case, a touch of nihilism affects not only the young characters but their older counterparts. What's remarkable about this is these books were published forty years apart. It's as if the despair Sillitoe is expressing (as one of the "Angry Young Men" of mid-century British fiction) is still reflected in the forme...more
John
Sep 26, 2012 John added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: film
This is the movie based on the short story collection of the same name. It deals with class issues in Britain around the 1950s.

The protagonist is a petty criminal, young, poor and self-confident. He runs fowl of the law and is sentenced to a young offenders' institute (the infamous Borstal) where he meets a morally uptight, older, lower-upper-middle-class Warden.

Brought together by fate, these two characters vie to outwit each other in a sometimes amusing, often tragic and yet ultimately self-fu...more
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Alan Sillitoe was an English writer, one of the "Angry Young Men" of the 1950s (although he, in common with most of the other writers to whom the label was applied, had never welcomed it).
For more see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Sil...
More about Alan Sillitoe...
Saturday Night and Sunday Morning  The Ragman's Daughter A Start In Life New and Collected Stories The death of William Posters

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“the long-distance run of an early morning makes me think that every run like this is a life- a little life, I know- but a life as full of misery and happiness and things happening as you can ever get really around yourself” 6 likes
“You should think about nobody and go your own way, not on a course marked out for you by people holding mugs of water and bottles of iodine in case you fall and cut yourself so that they can pick you up - even if you want to stay where you are - and get you moving again.” 6 likes
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