By Marina MacKay, Lyndsey Stonebridge
This number of essays deals a wide-ranging and provocative reassessment of the British novel's achievements after modernism. The booklet identifies continuities of preoccupation - with nationwide id, historiography and the problem to literary shape offered by way of private and non-private violence - that span the complete century.
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Extra resources for British Fiction After Modernism: The Novel at Mid-Century
Judith Adamson (London: Reinhardt, 1990), 52–4. 9. Graham Greene, Collected Essays (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970), 129, Greene’s ellipses. Greene is reﬂecting here on the ending of the third novel in Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End tetralogy, A Man Could Stand Up (1926). He was disappointed with the fourth volume, The Last Post (1928), which he described as ‘a disaster’; in his view it mistakenly tidied up the confusion and uncertainty at the end of A Man Could Stand Up. See Graham Greene, Collected Essays, 128.
The language of nationalism is consigned to the dustbin of history, to be taken over by a rhetoric of placelessness. 31 Farrant and Minty have no future because they cannot accommodate themselves to the spatio-temporal transformation that disembedding brings about. Although they long for a return ‘home’, this longing represents nostalgia not just for a ‘place’ but for a ‘time’ – in other words, for a past that has been shown up as a fantasy. Yet at the same time, ‘home’ is in this text consistently constructed metonymically in terms of speciﬁc locations, as though a return to them could somehow bring about a return to a world in which ‘England’ (as place and as site of speciﬁc values) has not been destroyed by transnational modernity.
As the most vicious of Greene’s egotists – characters such as Raven, Acky, Lime, Bendrix, Scobie and Pyle – Pinkie is the terminus ad quem of this particular psychopathology. 21 Emerging from the depths of a world that makes no allowance for them, they expose the class fault-lines of 1930s’ British society and the hypocrisy with which they were veiled. Greene noted of this period that it was impossible to believe in patriotic values, imperial aspirations, civic purposes or constitutional politics in a time of economic depression and hunger marches.