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Palgrave Macmillan

British Novelists in Hollywood, 1935-1965

Travelers, Exiles, and Expats

ISBN 9781137380753
Publication Date December 2013
Formats Hardcover Ebook (EPUB) Ebook (PDF) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan

Was early Hollywood, with its celluloid dreams and theme-park cemeteries, the beginning of the end of the Western humanist tradition? British Novelists in Hollywood calls attention to the shifting grounds of cultural expression by highlighting Hollywood as a site that unsettled definitions and narratives of colonialism and national identity. Drawn to Los Angeles for a variety of reasons that included everything from easy money, political disaffection, spiritual longing, and the Mediterranean climate, writers such as Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, Anthony Powell, J.B Priestly, Dodie Smith and Evelyn Waugh, and P.G. Wodehouse represent an incursion of expert settlers representing British culture and civilization. But instead of establishing themselves once again with a mission of colonial superiority, they soon found that their cultural power clashed with the commercially inviolable mass production of American popular culture. Lisa Colletta argues that the British experience in Southern California challenged traditional ideas of national identity and power and implicated them in a complex of choices and influences filtered through the Hollywood dream machine.

Lisa Colletta is Associate Professor of English at the American University of Rome, Italy. She is the author of Dark Humor and Social Satire in the Modern British Novel, the editor of Christopher Isherwood's Letters to his Mother, and the co-editor of Wild Colonial Girl: Essays on Edna O'Brien. Her research interests include Modernism, humor studies, and travel literature and her work has appeared in numerous journals and essay collections.

1. Movies and the Lure of Hollywood
2. Hollywood Architecture and the Technicolor Landscape
3. Forest Lawn, Hollywood, and the American Way of Dying
4. Movie Stars and Celebrity
5. British Hollywood Fiction

Reviews

"Well written and thoroughly researched" - Anthony Powell Society Newsletter
"Lisa Colletta has written a lively and engaging study of British and European writers who came to Hollywood in an effort to escape what they saw as a society exhausted by the burden of history, and later fleeing fascism and hoping to create a new artistic and literary home. This book creates a powerful portrait of expatriate writers Theodor Adorno, Bertolt Brecht, Aldous Huxley, Christopher Isherwood, Anthony Powell, and Evelyn Waugh as they grapple with the contrast between the shallow and commodified culture of Hollywood and the complex and tragic past in which British and European writers were embedded." - Wendy Martin, Professor of American Literature and American Studies, Claremont Graduate University, USA and editor of Best of Times, Worst of Times: Contemporary American Short Stories from the New Gilded Age
"They would say it was the 'quality of the light,' but surely it was easy money that drew British writers to Hollywood. Few liked it. Most left with big egos and bigger bank accounts. Lisa Colletta has given us a fresh take on a place that everyone thinks they know from a point of view that is not-too-foreign. English literary lions usually criticized Southern California (and the US) less as a friend would and more like an eccentric old auntie." - James J. Berg, editor of Isherwood on Writing
"With wit and insight, Lisa Colletta's fascinating and disturbing study shows us how British writers in Hollywood reverse the traditional travelogue, teaching us through their fiction, essays, autobiographies, and letters that the 'old world' and its literature are worth returning to after all.' - Kristin Bluemel, Professor of English, Monmouth University, USA and editor of Intermodernism: Literary Culture in Mid-Twentieth-Century Britain
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