Critics have long recognized the links between community festivals and literary art. The comedies and tragedies of the ancient Greeks grew out of their festivals; Anglo-Saxon poetry was often read at festival occasions; and the structural patterns of renaissance drama are inseparable from their festive origins. In The Life of the Party, Christopher Ames argues that the private party has become the festival of modern culture and has served as a shaping force in the fiction of many important twentieth century writers. Drawing upon and extending theories of Mikhail Bakhtin and others, Ames contends that parties have inherited much of the spirit and social function of festivals and carnivals. In these "controlled transgressions," ordinary rules of behavior are set aside for a short time, permitting excess and including (usually in veiled form) a ritual encounter with death, as well as a cathartic return to the normal social order when the party ends. In the experimental fiction of James Joyce and Virginia Wolf, the mingling of many voices at the party challenges both social and narrative decorum. For F. Scott Fitzgerald, Evelyn Waugh, and Henry Green, the party becomes a microcosm of a decadent society and informs a festive vision characteristic of the literature that emerged between the wars. And in postmodern works by Thomas Pynchon and Robert Coover, the novelists celebrate the disruptive and liberating force of parties even as they illustrate the dangers of chaos through scenes of the party-gone-wild. With its creative application of literary theory and ethnographic studies of festival, The Life of the Party demonstrates the persistence of the festive vision and its significance in the evolution of modern fiction.
Henry Green: Class, Style, and the Everyday offers a critical prism through which Green's fiction—from his earliest published short stories, as an Eton schoolboy, through to his last dialogic novels of the 1950s—can be seen as a coherent, subtle, and humorous critique of the tension between class, style, and realism in the first half of the twentieth century. The study extends on-going critical recognition that Green's work is central to the development of the novel from the twenties to the fifties, acting as a vital bridge between late modernist, inter-war, post-war, and postmodernist fiction. The overarching contention is that the shifting and destabilizing nature of Green's oeuvre sets up a predicament similar to that confronted by theorists of the everyday. Consequently, each chapter acknowledges the indeterminacy of the writing, whether it be: the non-singular functioning (or malfunctioning) of the name; the open-ended, purposefully ambiguous nature of its symbols; the shifting, cinematic nature of Green's prose style; the sensitive, but resolutely unsentimental depictions of the working-classes and the aristocracy in the inter-war period; the impact of war and its inconsistent irruptions into daily life; or the ways in which moments or events are rapidly subsumed back into the flux of the everyday, their impact left uncertain. Critics have, historically, offered up singular readings of Green's work, or focused on the poetic or recreative qualities of certain works, particularly those of the 1940s. Green's writing is, undoubtedly, poetic and extraordinary, but this book also pays attention to the clichéd, meta-textual, and uneventful aspects of his fiction.
Although Henry Green has been recognised by James Wood, David Lodge and John Updike as one of the most innovative writers of his time, his significant achievement remains largely neglected. Henry Green at the Limits of Modernism provides a theoretically sophisticated and historically nuanced reading of Green's novels and makes the case for Green's importance in reconsiderations of modernism, late modernism and post-war realism. This work is the most ambitious reassessment of Green's oeuvre to date and thus critical reading for scholars interested in modernism, late modernism, and the evolution of British post-war fiction. Arguing against the predominant view of Green's fiction as an autonomous literary construction, the work connects Green to a number of social and literary contexts, resulting in fresh readings of his novels and also a greater accessibility to an author long considered 'oblique' and 'elusive'. With significant investigations of Green's connection to his literary generation, his multifaceted and formally innovative handling of social class, his negotiations of narrative authority and authorship, and the importance of disability studies to understanding Green's fiction, this study charts the complex trajectories of Green's fiction against both social and literary contexts. The work also moves beyond the narrow confines of British literature to explore Green's connections to broader trends in European literature.
By mid-career, many successful writers have found a groove and their readers come to expect a familiar consistency and fidelity. Not so with Henry Green (1905-1973). He prefers uncertainty over reason and fragmentation over cohesion, and rarely lets the reader settle into a nice cozy read. Evil, he suggests, can be as instructive as good. Through Green's use of paradoxical and ambiguous language, his novels bring texture to the flatness of life, making the world seem bigger and closer. We soon stop worrying about what Hitler's bombs have in store for the Londoners of Caught (1943) and Back (1946) and start thinking about what they have in store for each other. Praised in his lifetime as England's top fiction author, Green is largely overlooked today. This book presents a comprehensive analysis of his work for a new generation of readers.
'So far as the young were concerned,' Orwell wrote of Britain in the years after the Great War, 'the official beliefs were dissolving like sandcastles.' Most critical accounts of that postwar generation have been constrained by having to deal with the myth of the 'thirties.' Michael Gorra's innovation in this exciting study of the postwar generation's major novelists lies in seeing the consequences of that dissolution in formal rather than political terms, arguing that the novelist's difficulty in representing human character in what Wyndham Lewis called a 'shell-shocked' age is itself a sign of that loss of belief. But while most studies of this generation end with the coming of World War 2, Gorra follows these novelists throughout their careers. The result is a book that not only shows how the British novel's increasing consciousness of its own limitations stands as a mirror to the country's loss of power, but also provides memorable portraits of four major twentieth century writers.
From folk ballads to film scripts, this new five-volume encyclopedia covers the entire history of British literature from the seventh century to the present, focusing on the writers and the major texts of what are now the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. In five hundred substantial essays written by major scholars, the Encyclopedia of British Literature includes biographies of nearly four hundred individual authors and a hundred topical essays with detailed analyses of particular themes, movements, genres, and institutions whose impact upon the writing or the reading of literature was significant. An ideal companion to The Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature, this set will prove invaluable for students, scholars, and general readers. For more information, including a complete table of contents and list of contributors, please visit www.oup.com/us/ebl
Drawing on a rich array of archival sources and historical detail, The Politics of 1930s British Literature tells the story of a school-minded decade and illuminates new readings of the politics and aesthetics of 1930s literature. In a period of shifting political claims, educational policy shaped writers' social and gender ideals. This book explores how a wide array of writers including Virginia Woolf, W.H. Auden, George Orwell, Winifred Holtby and Graham Greene were informed by their pedagogic work. It considers the ways in which education influenced writers' analysis of literary style and their conception of future literary forms. The Politics of 1930s British Literature argues that to those perennial symbols of the 1930s, the loudspeaker and the gramophone, should be added the textbook and the blackboard.
This book explores for the first time the literature of absolute war in connection to World War II. From a transnational and comparative standpoint, it addresses a set of theoretical, historical, and literary questions, shedding new light on the nature of absolute war, the literature on the world war of 1939–45, and modern war writing in general. It determines the main features of the language of absolute war, and how it gravitates around fundamental semantic clusters, such as the horror, terror, and the specter. The Literature of Absolute War studies the variegated responses given by literary authors to the extreme and seemingly unsolvable challenges posed by absolute war to epistemology, ethics, and language. It also delves into the different poetics that articulate the writing on absolute war, placing special emphasis on four literary practices: traditional realism, traumatic realism, the fantastic, and catastrophic modernism.
This Encyclopedia offers an indispensable reference guide to twentieth-century fiction in the English-language. With nearly 500 contributors and over one million words, it is the most comprehensive and authoritative reference guide to twentieth-century fiction in the English language. Contains over 500 entries of 1000-3000 words written in lucid, jargon-free prose, by an international cast of leading scholars Arranged in three volumes covering British and Irish Fiction, American Fiction, and World Fiction, with each volume edited by a leading scholar in the field Entries cover major writers (such as Saul Bellow, Raymond Chandler, John Steinbeck, Virginia Woolf, A.S. Byatt, Samual Beckett, D.H. Lawrence, Zadie Smith, Salman Rushdie, V.S. Naipaul, Nadine Gordimer, Alice Munro, Chinua Achebe, J.M. Coetzee, and Ngûgî Wa Thiong’o) and their key works Examines the genres and sub-genres of fiction in English across the twentieth century (including crime fiction, Sci-Fi, chick lit, the noir novel, and the avant-garde novel) as well as the major movements, debates, and rubrics within the field, such as censorship, globalization, modernist fiction, fiction and the film industry, and the fiction of migration, diaspora, and exile