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Popular fiction in England, 1914-1918

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BerichtGeplaatst: 24 Jun 2011 20:52    Onderwerp: Popular fiction in England, 1914-1918 Reageer met quote

Popular fiction in England, 1914-1918

While Englishmen were dying by the thousands on the battlefields of Europe, their friends and relations on the home front were reading books of humor, tales of espionage and adventure, colorful romances, and historical swashbucklers. Harold Orel's penetrating book explains why escapist fiction dominated the popular literary market in England throughout the Great War. A large factor, he shows, was the view of publishers, reviewers, booksellers, libraries, literary groups, and the general reading public that escapist fiction was a useful diversion from the inescapable horrors of war. Orel begins with a survey of the British literary world and its attitudes toward the novel at the outbreak of the war. Within a broad social, cultural, and economic context he depicts the "fiction industry" at a time of extraordinary upheaval, before the triumph of Modernism, when the attitudes and esthetics of writers, the tastes of readers, and the economics of the marketplace were undergoing rapid transformation. Subsequent chapters offer detailed studies of fifteen of the most touted novels of the period and the ways they reflected--or, more often, failed to reflect--the radical changes taking place as they were being written. The writers examined include George Moore, Norman Douglas, Frank Swinnerton, Compton Mackenzie, Mary Webb, Joseph Conrad, Wyndham Lewis, John Buchan, Alec Waugh, H.G. Wells, and Arnold Bennett. Many of their novels during these years avoid mention of the war that was reshaping their world, or allude to it only obliquely. The book concludes with a review of changes in the publishing world in 1918, the last year of the Great War. In its comprehensive coverage of a wide range of oncepopular but now neglected novels, Orel's authoritative study fills a gap in the cultural and literary history of early twentieth-century England.
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