Precision, Honesty and Liveliness: The Newspaper Medium in "The Unfortunates" by B. S. Johnson

Katarzyna Biela


The article analyses the representation of the newspaper medium in The Unfortunates – the fourth novel by the post-war British avant-garde author B.S. Johnson. The narrator’s job as a football reporter is discussed with reference to other themes and the unconventional form of the novel. Special attention is paid to the section called “The pitch worn”, which presents the process of writing the report. The aim is to see how the chapter resonates within the whole work and what it reveals as regards Johnson’s views on precision, honesty and liveness. Literary analysis is accompanied by references to journalism and media studies.


B.S. Johnson; "The Unfortunates"; newspaper medium; journalism; precision; liveliness

Full Text:



Bazarnik, K. (2010). Chronotope in liberature. In K. Bazarnik, & B. Kucała (Eds.), James Joyce and After: Writer and Time (pp. 117-132). Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Bazarnik, K. (2016). Liberature: A Book-bound Genre. Kraków: Jagiellonian University Press. DOI: 10.4467/K9565.31/e/16.16.5378.

Bird, S. E., & Dardenne. R. W. (1987). Myth, chronicle, and story: Exploring the narrative qualities of news. In J. W. Carey (Ed.), Media, Myths and Narratives: Television and the Press (pp. 67-86). Newbury Park: SAGE Publications.

Bird, S. E., & Dardenne. R. W. (2009). Rethinking news and myth as storytelling. In K. Wahl-Jorgensen, & T. Hanitzsch (Eds.), The Handbook of Journalism Studies (pp. 205-217). New York and London: Routledge.

Carey, J. W. (1989). A Cultural Approach to Communication. In J. W. Carey (Ed.), Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society (pp. 13-36). Boston: Unwin Hyman.

Coe, J. (2005). Like a Fiery Elephant: The Story of B. S. Johnson. London: Picador.

Drąg, W. (2017). In Pieces: Fragmentation, Friendship, and Mourning in B. S. Johnson's “The Unfortunates”. In E. Kowal, & R. Kusek (Eds.), The Politics and Poetics of Friendship (pp. 309–322). Kraków: Jagiellonian University Press.

Guignery, V. (Ed.). (2015). The B. S. Johnson – Zulfikar Ghose Correspondence. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Hooper, M. (2014). Why BS Johnson suits the digital age. The Guardian. Retrieved January 28, 2020, from

Hucklesby, D. (2014). B.S. Johnson, Giles Gordon and a ‘New Fiction’: The book, the screen and the e-book. In J. Jordan, & M. Ryle (Eds.), B. S. Johnson and Post-war Literature: Possibilities of the Avant Garde (pp. 202-216). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Johnson, B. S. (1973). Introduction. In B. S. Johnson, Aren’t You Rather Young to Be Writing Your Memoirs? (pp. 11–31). London: Hutchinson.

Johnson, B. S. (1999). The Unfortunates. London: Picador.

Johnson, B. S. (2013). [On football]. In J. Coe, P. Tew, & J. Jordan (Eds.), Well Done, God! (pp. 407-411). London: Picador.

Jordan, J. (2010). Chance and the Modern British Novel: From Henry Green to Iris Murdoch (2010). New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Jordan, J. (2014). ‘For recuperation’: elegy, form, and the aleatory in B. S. Johnson “The Unfortunates”. Textual Practice, 28(5), pp. 745–761.

Lea, D. (2015). Narrative Wreckage: Cancer and the Unfortunate Body in B. S. Johnson. English Studies, 96(7), 785-798.

Örnebring, H. (2018). Journalism and Change. In T. P. Vos (Ed.), Journalism (pp. 555-568). Boston: De Gruyter.

Randall, D. (2007). The Universal Journalist. 3rd ed. London: Pluto Press.

Reeves, I., & Keeble, R. L. (2015). The Newspapers Handbook. 5th ed. London and New York: Routledge.

Tew, Ph. (2002). B. S. Johnson. Review Of Contemporary Fiction, Spring 22(1), 7-52.

Ward, S. J. A. (2018). Epistemologies of journalism. In T. P. Vos (Ed.), Journalism (pp. 63-82). Boston: De Gruyter.

White, G. (2005). Reading the Graphic Surface: The Presence of the Book in Prose Fiction. Manchester, New York: Manchester University Press.

Data publikacji: 2020-07-14 13:48:33
Data złożenia artykułu: 2020-02-20 14:58:11


Total abstract view - 737
Downloads (from 2020-06-17) - PDF - 395



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Copyright (c) 2020 Katarzyna Biela

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.