The masculine gender has still to be interrogated to the extent undergone by femininity. Masculinity appears most frequently in current debate as a conceptual scapegoat, conveniently encompassing every mode of behaviour or expression that is technocratic, bullying or violent. This engaging study redresses the theoretical neglect of masculinity by tracing its influence on fictional form and theme through an era of dizzying social change. It conducts a close analysis of English novels selected for contrasting definitions of the male gender, from the allegedly Angry Young Man to the contemporary confessions of Nick Hornby and Tony Parsons. The literary period since 1950 is interpreted as one of intense political and stylistic negotiation by male authors with the gendered subject-positions of both fictional characters, and those men and women who read about them.