A groundbreaking re-reading of the literary response to a decade of trauma and transformation
This study undoes the customary division of the 1940s into the Second World War and after. Instead, it focuses on the thematic preoccupations that emerged from writers' immersion in and resistance to the conflict. Through seven chapters - Documenting, Desiring, Killing, Escaping, Grieving, Adjusting and Atomising - the book sets middlebrow and popular writers alongside residual modernists and new voices to reconstruct the literary landscape of the period. Detailed case studies of fiction, drama and poetry provide fresh critical perspectives on writers as diverse as Margery Allingham, Alexander Baron, Elizabeth Bowen, Keith Douglas, Henry Green, Graham Greene, Georgette Heyer, Alun Lewis, Nancy Mitford, George Orwell, Mervyn Peake, J. B. Priestley, Terence Rattigan, Mary Renault, Stevie Smith, Dylan Thomas and Evelyn Waugh.
Detailed and theoretically informed case studies of canonical writers such as Bowen, Orwell, Greene and Waugh
Case studies and critical re-evaluations of popular genre writers and forgotten writers