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Literary Lives

Elizabeth Bowen

A Literary Life

Authors: Laurence, Patricia

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  • Draws on Bowen’s letters to friends and fellow intellectuals like Isaiah Berlin and writers like Virginia Woolf and Eudora Welty
  • Delves into Bowen’s espionage for the British Ministry of Information in Ireland
  • Up-to-date analysis of Bowen’s recent new editions, essays, and broadcasts and includes interviews with Bowen’s family
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  • ISBN 978-3-030-26415-4
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  • ISBN 978-3-030-26414-7
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About this book

Elizabeth Bowen: A Literary Life reinvents Bowen as a public intellectual, propagandist, spy, cultural ambassador, journalist, and essayist as well as a writer of fiction. Patricia Laurence counters the popular image of Bowen as a mannered, reserved Anglo-Irish writer and presents her as a bold, independent woman who took risks and made her own rules in life and writing. This biography distinguishes itself from others in the depth of research into the life experiences that fueled Bowen’s writing: her espionage for the British Ministry of Information in neutral Ireland, 1940-1941, and the devoted circle of friends, lovers, intellectuals and writers whom she valued: Isaiah Berlin, William Plomer, Maurice Bowra, Stuart Hampshire, Charles Ritchie, Sean O’Faolain, Virginia Woolf, Rosamond Lehmann, and Eudora Welty, among others. The biography also demonstrates how her feelings of irresolution about national identity and gender roles were dispelled through her writing. Her vivid fiction, often about girls and women, is laced with irony about smooth social surfaces rent by disruptive emotion, the sadness of beleaguered adolescents, the occurrence of cultural dislocation, historical atmosphere, as well as undercurrents of violence in small events, and betrayal and disappointment in romance. Her strong visual imagination—so much a part of the texture of her writing—traces places, scenes, landscapes, and objects that subliminally reveal hidden aspects of her characters. Though her reputation faltered in the 1960s-1970s given her political and social conservatism, now, readers are discovering her passionate and poetic temperament and writing as well as the historical consciousness behind her worldly exterior and writing.


About the authors

Patricia Laurence is Professor Emerita of English, City College of New York, USA. She has published widely on transnational modernism, Bloomsbury and women writers including The Reading of Silence: Virginia Woolf in the English Tradition (1991); Lily Briscoe’s Chinese Eyes: Bloomsbury, Modernism and China (2001); Julian Bell: The Violent Pacifist (2005).

Reviews

“With its rigorous new archival research and sensitive, detailed, and astute analysis, this new literary and cultural biography of Elizabeth Bowen is bound to become a crucial resource for Bowen scholars as well as British and Irish culture and modernist Studies. Through newly discovered correspondence and a widened cultural and historical sphere, Patricia Laurence offers a new perspective that establishes Bowen’s significant place among the most prominent intellectuals and writers of her day.” (Phyllis Lassner, Professor Emerita, Northwestern University, USA, and author of Elizabeth Bowen (Women Writers Series, 1990) and The Short Fiction of Elizabeth Bowen (1991))

“Linearity does not tally with Elizabeth Bowen’s style of writing, living, or remembering, and this engaging critical biography presents what Laurence ably demonstrates to be Bowen’s ‘kaleidoscopic life’ as private woman, public intellectual, spy, propagandist, and author in a style and format that does her intriguing and contradictory subject justice.” (Mary Burke, Associate Professor of English, University of Connecticut, USA, and author of ‘Tinkers’: Synge and the Culture History of the Irish Traveller (2010))

“Laurence integrates important new material in her resulting mosaic concerning Elizabeth Bowen's active anti-fascism in World War Two Eire and in London under the Blitz. She advocates persuasively for a new 'placing' of Bowen in the context of transnational twentieth-century women's writing that includes Somerville and Ross, Virginia Woolf, Eudora Welty and Christa Wolf.” (Sybil Oldfield, Emeritus Reader, University of Sussex, UK, and biographer of Spinsters of this Parish: the life and times of F. M. Mayor and Mary Sheepshanks (1984) and Women Against the Iron Fist: Alternatives to Militarism 1900–1989 (1989))

Table of contents (11 chapters)

Table of contents (11 chapters)
  • Introduction

    Pages 1-12

    Laurence, Patricia

  • Change

    Pages 13-52

    Laurence, Patricia

  • Terrains of the Imagination

    Pages 53-82

    Laurence, Patricia

  • Outsiders

    Pages 83-117

    Laurence, Patricia

  • Love and Lovers

    Pages 119-180

    Laurence, Patricia

Buy this book

eBook $19.99
price for USA (gross)
  • ISBN 978-3-030-26415-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Softcover $24.99
price for USA
  • ISBN 978-3-030-26414-7
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Immediate ebook access, if available*, with your print order
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.

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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
Elizabeth Bowen
Book Subtitle
A Literary Life
Authors
Series Title
Literary Lives
Copyright
2019
Publisher
Palgrave Macmillan
Copyright Holder
The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG
eBook ISBN
978-3-030-26415-4
DOI
10.1007/978-3-030-26415-4
Softcover ISBN
978-3-030-26414-7
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XIV, 357
Number of Illustrations
16 b/w illustrations, 8 illustrations in colour
Topics

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