Steven Fielding

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To understand contemporary politics we must understand how it is represented in fiction. This is the main argument in A State of Play: British Politics on Screen, Stage and Page, from Anthony Trollope to The Thick of It (Bloomsbury Academic, 2014) a new book by Steven Fielding, Professor of Politics at the University of Nottingham. The book explores how British politics has been represented in fiction from the late Victorian era through to the present. The book identifies a fascinating set of core themes, including how the political class has been defended and attacked, how the idea of populism has developed over time, along with the changing role of women in British political fiction. A State of Play does not over-claim, stressing that although an understanding of fiction is essential to understanding politics, we still don’t know the exact relationship between people’s political participation and political fiction. However, it does make a convincing case that any understanding of the British political system will be insufficient without understanding how it has been imagined and depicted. Indeed, as later chapters show, the mode of depiction itself has become an important territory for explaining British political culture. The book contains a huge range of examples, from the more well known television series, such as Yes, Minister and The Thick of It, through to obscure and perhaps forgotten books such as The Mistress of Downing Street. Overall it will be of interest to academics and the public alike.

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