By James Richard Giles
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Extra info for Understanding Hubert Selby, Jr
Already he senses that in some unimaginably horrific way they will consume him: "the Harpies still mocked him as they tore the flesh from his belly, his chest, and scraped their beaks on his ribs and suddenly thrust their beaks into his eyes and plucked them from their sockets" (124). For someone of Harry's lower-class background, the implications of his still-suppressed desires are so terrifying that they cannot be "seen" or realized; in fact, it would be better to have one's eyes plucked out than to acknowledge them.
Hurm's chapter on Last Exit to Brooklyn in Fragmented Urban Images is one of the most extensive, and important, treatments of the novel to appear thus far. By comparing Selby's novel to Stephen Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, Hurm Page 13 perceptively analyzes Last Exit to Brooklyn as being naturalistic in theme but highly modernistic in technique. In fact, he argues that one can detect a comparable surrealistic quality in the fiction of Crane and Selby. Neither writer is fundamentally devoted to the documentation and detail that Emile Zola prescribed as being goals of the naturalistic writer, but each does subscribe to the traditional philosophic center of literary naturalism, a belief in determinism.
1 This analysis's emphasis on the degree to which violence in Selby's work expresses the damaged and perverted sexuality of his male characters is especially perceptive. Hurm's chapter on Last Exit to Brooklyn in Fragmented Urban Images is one of the most extensive, and important, treatments of the novel to appear thus far. By comparing Selby's novel to Stephen Crane's Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, Hurm Page 13 perceptively analyzes Last Exit to Brooklyn as being naturalistic in theme but highly modernistic in technique.