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Women's Writing 1945-1960
After the Deluge
Edited by Jane Dowson
 
 
Palgrave Macmillan
 
 
 
 
 
 
11 Nov 2003
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£76.00
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9781403913098
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DescriptionReviewsContentsAuthors

These essays demonstrate that the 1940s and 1950s were a dull or reactionary period for feminism and in women's writing. They investigate notable 'literary' novelists, Elizabeth Bowen, Iris Murdoch, Doris Lessing and Muriel Spark, alongside the hugely popular Nancy Mitford, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Pym, Vera Brittain, Agatha Christie and Rosemary Sutcliff. Their works reveal the pleasures and repressions of women readers in this period which is characterised by resistance to and retreat from postwar ideals of femininity and domesticity. In addition to historical and crime fiction there is discussion of poetry, drama, adaptations of women's novels for screen and non-fiction. The book is divided into four sections: 'The Legacy of War'; 'Home: retreat and restraint'; 'Gender, Love and Marriage'; and 'Across the Threshold: spirituality, colonisation and subjectivity'. We are introduced to highly escapist worlds and also see women's interest in the period's democratic impetus, particularly racial injustices such as anti-semitism and apartheid, and declining colonial power.


Description

These essays demonstrate that the 1940s and 1950s were a dull or reactionary period for feminism and in women's writing. They investigate notable 'literary' novelists, Elizabeth Bowen, Iris Murdoch, Doris Lessing and Muriel Spark, alongside the hugely popular Nancy Mitford, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Pym, Vera Brittain, Agatha Christie and Rosemary Sutcliff. Their works reveal the pleasures and repressions of women readers in this period which is characterised by resistance to and retreat from postwar ideals of femininity and domesticity. In addition to historical and crime fiction there is discussion of poetry, drama, adaptations of women's novels for screen and non-fiction. The book is divided into four sections: 'The Legacy of War'; 'Home: retreat and restraint'; 'Gender, Love and Marriage'; and 'Across the Threshold: spirituality, colonisation and subjectivity'. We are introduced to highly escapist worlds and also see women's interest in the period's democratic impetus, particularly racial injustices such as anti-semitism and apartheid, and declining colonial power.


Reviews

'This rich and lively collection adds new layers to our knowledge of twentieth-century writing by women. Exploring the worlds 'behind and beyond the fishnet curtains' of Britain in the 1940s and 50s, the essays remind us of the wealth of literary culture in the period, illuminating the contradictory desires and dreams of women writers in the aftermath of war, their sexual and spiritual longings, the appetite for wild fantasy and for closely scrutinising the everyday, the capacity for nostalgic retreat and for radical visions of the future. ' - Alison Light, Lecturer in English, University College London


Contents

Chronology
Introduction; J.Dowson
PART 1: THE LEGACY OF WAR - CONTINUITY AND CHANGE
Legacies of the Past: Postwar Women Looking Forward and Back; E.Maslen
Resisting Nostalgia: Elizabeth Bowen's A World of Love; J.Briggs
Criminal Desires: Women's Crime Writing in the 1940s and 1950s; L.Peach
'The Same Sky': World War II and British Women's Writing for Stage and Screen; C. Ylee
PART 2: THE HOME - RETREAT AND RESTRAINT
'No Home of One's Own': Elizabeth Taylor's At Mrs Lippincote's; J.Brannigan
Souls Astray: Belonging and the Idea of Home: Elizabeth Bowen's The Heat of the Day, Betty Miller's On the Side of the Angels and Death of the Nightingale and Muriel Spark's Memento Mori; S.Sceats
'At home everywhere and nowhere': Denise Levertov's 'Domestic' Muse; A.Entwistle
PART 3: GENDER, LOVE AND MARRIAGE
Nancy Mitford and the Pursuit of Love; M.Joannou
Retreating into History? Historical Novels by Women Writers, 1945-60; D.Wallace
Writing A Man's World: An Exploration of Three Works by Rosemary Sutcliff, Mary Renault and Cecil Woodham Smith; K.Bell
Female Masculinity in Iris Murdoch's Early Fiction; T.Grimshaw
PART 4: ACROSS THE THRESHOLD - SPIRITUALITY, COLONISATION AND SUBJECTIVITY
The Presentation of the Self in Doris Lessing's Martha Quest; K.Fullbrook
'Going Home': Exile and Nostalgia in the Writing of Doris Lessing; S.Watkins
'The Raw and the Cooked': Barbara Pym and Claude Levi-Strauss; C.Hanson
'There is a sweetness in willing self-surrender'?: Self-loss and Renewal in the Poetry of Elizabeth Jennings, Kathleen Raine and Stevie Smith; J.Dowson
Index


Authors

JANE DOWSON is Senior Lecturer at De Montfort University. Her publications include Women, Modernism and British Poetry, 1910-1939, Escaping Femininity and Women's Poetry of the 1930s.