Literature of the 1920s: Writers Among the Ruins Volume 3

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2015-05-01
  • Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
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Surveys a war-haunted, self-consciously disoriented but exceptionally vibrant decade of writing

The 1920s emerge in this study as a period with its own distinctive historical awareness and creative agenda, one in which Modernist, non-Modernist and semi-Modernist writers met on shared ground with common memories and preoccupations.

Spanning genres high and low, including war memoirs, critical essays and detective stories as well as drama, poetry and the novel, Chris Baldick's approachable study of the decade sets out a 'map' of the new post-Great-War literary landscape with its unique configuration of genres, settings and character-types. Successive chapters investigate the place of ideas (biological, Freudian, esoteric, and more) in literature; the uses of anachronism and the time-sense of the Twenties; re-shapings of war-memory and war myth into varieties of Twenties 'disillusionment'; and curious connections between crime-writing and comedy in the period. This account moves easily between experimental and more 'traditional' literary tendencies of the decade to discover common obsessions and shared moods of elegiac despair, nervous frivolity and bold irreverence.

Author Biography

Chris Baldick is Professor of English at Goldsmiths, University of London. He has written several works of literary history including The Modern Movement (Oxford, 2004), along with the Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms (2008), and co-edited with Jane Desmarais Decadence: An Annotated Anthology (Manchester, 2012).

Table of Contents

General Editor's Preface
Introduction: In Search of the Twentyish
A Decade Overlooked
Times of the Twenties
Genres of the Twenties
Places of the Twenties
National Literatures and International Authors
Twentyish Figures: Character-Types of the Decade
Antinomies of the Twenties: Tradition and Experiment
Generations of the Twenties
Insecure Boundaries and Textual Revisions

Chapter 1 - A Literature of Ideas
The Inner Voice: Gyres and Ganglia
Heavy Food
Shaw: Back to Methuselah
The Advent of Freud
Sinclair: Life and Death of Harriett Frean
Tendentious Fiction and Narrative Preaching
Longer Philosophical Poems: Bridges and MacDiarmid
Aldous Huxley and the Novel of Ideas

Chapter 2 - Mixing Memory and Desire: Modernism and Anachronism
Woolf: Mrs Dalloway
Ford: Some Do Not . . .
'The Waste Land': Eliot's Exhumations of the Dead
Yeats and the Artifice of Eternity
From Here to Simultaneity: Criticism against History
Powys: Mr Weston's Good Wine
Shaw: Saint Joan

Chapter 3 - Never Such Innocence: Versions of Experience and Disillusionment
Dividing Lines
Cracks across History
Triptychal Permutations of War Literature
Ironies of Trench Education: Blunden, Sassoon, Graves
War-Experience in the Novel: The Spanish Farm Trilogy and Kangaroo
Other Disenchantments and Awakenings: Mansfield
The Painted Veil and Mr Fortune's Maggot
Learning from Experience: Huxley
The Elder Ironists and the End of Innocence
Disillusionment and All That

Chapter 4 - Impunities: Crime, Comedy and Camp
Maugham: The Casuarina Tree
Murder Most Frivolous: Detective Fiction of the Early Golden Age
The Comedy of Crime I: On Stage
Lonsdale: The Last of Mrs Cheyney
Travers: Plunder
The Comedy of Crime II: Narrative Comedy
Waugh: Decline and Fall
Types of Promiscuity
Arlen: The Green Hat
Straying and Misbehaving
Aren't we all? Amorality and the rise of Camp

Chapter 5 - But It Still Goes On: The Passing of the Twenties
Previews of the Thirties
The Twenties Revisited: Waugh and Isherwood
Works Cited

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