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Title: Ordinary observers : London fiction of the 1930s
Author: Kanakova, A.
Awarding Body: University College London (University of London)
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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This thesis examines the London novel of the 1930s, with a focus on texts that made the ordinary, or typical, Londoner’s visual experience of the city their subject. While the main emphasis is on works by Patrick Hamilton, Jean Rhys, Storm Jameson, and George Orwell, several less-known and neglected London writers of the period are also considered. While the curiosity about the inner lives of ordinary city dwellers was not new in the 1930s, the rendering of Londoners’ interiorities through their visual perceptions became a prominent trend in the London novel during the decade. Importantly, visual experiences of the city in the novels under discussion are no longer the exclusive property of a sensitive, omniscient narrator. Rather, London is increasingly seen from the unexceptional, typically lower-middle-class observer’s point of view. The London novels discussed here were set in the city's spaces of leisure - cinemas, teashops, café bars, and the brightly lit streets of the West End. For the writers under discussion, these were much more than just settings. The spatial organisation of London’s public sphere between the Wars shaped not only the external appearance of the city, but also modes of being within it. In this thesis, then, the cultural history of 1930s London informs readings of the period’s writing. Readings of 1930s photographs form an integral part of the thesis. Literature and photography, insofar as the ordinary Londoner was concerned, occupied similar fields of enquiry. As the art form that was not only itself visual, but that frequently made others’ looking its subject, photography is closer to the 1930s London novel than any other mode of expression, and photographs both illustrate and illuminate the literary works under discussion.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available