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The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner

3.81  ·  Rating Details ·  3,678 Ratings  ·  262 Reviews
Smith, a defiant young rebel, inhabits the no-man's-land of institutionalised Borstal. As his steady jog-trot rhythm transports him over an unrelenting, frost-bitten earth, he wonders why, for whom, and for what he is running.

A groundbreaking collection of stories, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner captured the grim isolation of the working class in the English Mi
Paperback, Re-issue edition, 176 pages
Published July 16th 2007 by Harper Perennial (first published 1959)
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Mehrnaz aweeeesooooome piece of work!!!! it 's great.I have recently read and so satisfied with my master 's decision for choosing this long story for our…moreaweeeesooooome piece of work!!!! it 's great.I have recently read and so satisfied with my master 's decision for choosing this long story for our class.although I 'm not a native English speaker and as a result' undrestanding some slangs was a bit hard for me.cause it has a conventional narrative form but generaaly speaking it was perfect!!!! :)))))))))))))) rebellious guy against a totally complicated brutal system (less)

Community Reviews

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"I didn't like him trying to accuse me of something he wasn't sure I'd done."

"They can spy on us all day to see if we're pulling our puddings and if we're doing our 'athletics', but they can't make an X-ray out of our guts to find out what we're telling ourselves."

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.
Jul 30, 2011 Kris rated it it was amazing
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.
Jeff Scott
Oct 13, 2009 Jeff Scott rated it it was amazing

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
Nov 27, 2008 Sam rated it liked it
Shelves: shortfiction
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
Apr 24, 2013 Alison rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 19, 2011 Dan rated it it was ok
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
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
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
Feb 04, 2014 Martin rated it it was amazing
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
Sophia Park
Feb 12, 2011 Sophia Park rated it really liked it
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
Oct 27, 2012 ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 25, 2014 Nikoleta rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nikoleta by: Milena
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
Sean Owen
Feb 06, 2016 Sean Owen rated it it was amazing
"The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner" is an outstanding short story collection. The stories here take place in working class England in the immediate pre and post WWII era. The characters are all in unhappy and near inescapable circumstances. They feel crushed by their lives and are only able to assert their freedom in the smallest and often most self-destructive ways. Sillitoe does a great job of capturing the humanity in these characters without reducing them to caricatures. This book s ...more
Mike Jensen
Apr 26, 2011 Mike Jensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Víctor L. Briones Antón
Apoyado en la fama del primer relato que da título a la obra (fama posterior aunque de muy pronta aparición en la vida de esta obra) se despliegan una serie de relatos con sabor a rabia, a retrato de una situación concreta y muy poco transitada. La voz narrativa por momentos resulta arrogante, pero siempre directa y certera. Hombres y niños-hombre que habitan un mundo complicado, alienado. Mucha vehemencia entre la que se cuela algún chispazo de piedad hacia algunos personajes. En general una le ...more

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
Nicholas During
Aug 22, 2011 Nicholas During rated it really liked it
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
Nov 18, 2007 Jessica rated it it was ok
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
Larissa Rowan
Mar 03, 2015 Larissa Rowan rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-of-2015
I will be doing a video review of this as well.
So I went into this book with absolutely no expectations. It being a book I had to read on my course I guess I was expecting a quite dull and boring book, but full of literary genius. What I got was all of the literary genius and none of the bore! From the very first story this was an incredible and captivating read. Usually with short story collections I find it hard to distinguish between what happens in each story. This is not the case with this
Apr 19, 2011 Lauren rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Nov 09, 2008 Leah rated it really liked it
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
Mar 23, 2016 Mandy rated it it was amazing
Sillitoe is such a good writer, and this collection of short stories shows him at his best. A classic of northern working class literature, it’s as relevant today as it was in the 1950s it describes. Some aspects of society may have changed but the anger and rebellion, the despair and disillusionment that many of his characters have to contend with are still around. The title story is perhaps the best of the bunch but they’re all very good, and from a historical and sociological point of view ex ...more
Nov 21, 2008 Mia rated it it was amazing
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.
Jesse Markus
Feb 06, 2012 Jesse Markus rated it really liked it
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.
Feb 24, 2015 Nick rated it it was amazing
Absolutely brilliant. Such great stories.
Megan Openshaw
Sep 12, 2016 Megan Openshaw rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: the-real-world
God knows how much I loved Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories - I was mesmerised (and quite often disturbed) by her dark, sensuous reworkings of much-loved fairy tales. They were perfect, bite-size chunks on which to feed my growing obsession with Gothic literature. However, I think that Sillitoe's gritty and painfully honest collection of tales, set in his native Nottingham, may have just managed to top it.

Initially, I wasn't sure if I would like this collection, but even by
Kirsty Hanson
One of the brilliant things about studying English at university is that I come across stories that I would never normally pick up in my spare time. In one of my modules, I am studying the short story and whilst they are very quick to read, most of them have huge underlying depth and meaning.

Whilst I enjoyed reading The Fishing-boat Picture and I knew that there must be some underlying meaning, I couldn't quite put my finger on what Shillitoe meant by this short story.

(This short story is taken
Feb 18, 2017 Emmkay rated it really liked it
A strong collection of short stories that provides a vivid view of working class English life in the 1930s through the 1950s. The titular story, about an inmate of a juvenile detention centre who is expected to win a big race, was terrific, and so are a number of the others as well. The author's own life story was an interesting one that he clearly drew on in order to illuminate a corner of society that's often neglected in literature (he had a childhood on the margins and left school at 14 for ...more
Lorenzo Berardi
Aug 30, 2009 Lorenzo Berardi rated it it was ok
Shelves: british, 2010
I tried. And I tried. I let it rest and had some walk around. I got my breath back and tried once again.
Well, it doesn't catch me. It's like trying to win a sprint running backwards. Wait! This one suits better with the mood of the book: it's like trying to win a marathon dragging a ball and chain.

After having abandoned the first short story half way (this choice making me a pedestrian half-distance runner, I guess) I'm reading the others randomly.
There's nothing to do: I can't get into this stu
Aaron Mcquiston
Oct 21, 2015 Aaron Mcquiston rated it liked it
Alan Sillitoe is considered to be part of the "Angry Young Men" collection of British writers in the '50s, along with Kingsley Amis and John Osborne. This is not a label Sillitoe ever liked, but his most famous book, the collection, "The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner" kind of shows why he is lumped into this class. The title story is about a young man in a reform school who has been hand picked by the warden to train as a runner and win the big race for the institution. The idea of work ...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).
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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” 8 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.” 8 likes
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