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Writing disenchantment: British First World War prose, 1914-30

Frayn, Andrew



This book argues that disenchantment is not only a response to wartime experience, but a condition of modernity with a language that finds extreme expression in First World War literature. The objects of disenchantment are often the very same as the enchantments of scientific progress: bureaucracy, homogenisation and capitalism. Older beliefs such as religion, courage and honour are kept in view, and endure longer than often is realised. Social critics, theorists and commentators of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries provide a rich and previously unexplored context for wartime and post-war literature. The rise of the disenchanted narrative to its predominance in the War Books Boom of 1928 – 1930 is charted from the turn of the century in texts, archival material, sales and review data. Rarely-studied popular and middlebrow novels are analysed alongside well-known highbrow texts: D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, H. G. Wells and Rebecca West rub shoulders with forgotten figures such as Gilbert Frankau and Ernest Raymond. These sometimes jarring juxtapositions show the strained relationship between enchantment and disenchantment in the war and the post-war decade.

Book Type Authored Book
Acceptance Date Sep 9, 1999
Publication Date 2014
Deposit Date May 30, 2016
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Book Title Writing disenchantment: British First World War Prose, 1914-30.
ISBN 9780719089220
Keywords First World War literature; disenchantment; modernity;
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