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Title: Late modernist travel literature, 1930-1949 : home, nationalism, and war
Author: Williams, Annabel
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2018
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In the decades immediately following the First World War, convulsions along geopolitical fault-lines exposed the inherent instability of home for many; the disintegration of empires led to redrawn borders and population resettlement, while militant nationalism, revanchist and irredentist ideologies triggered the further displacement or exile of millions, the elective emigration of the more fortunate, and the travel of the more fortunate still - including those who sought to bear witness to the catastrophe. In this period, broad questions about the definition of a conceptual home had striking correspondence with those around the status of material homes, and in both cases were catalysed by travel and war. How was literature involved in complicating and challenging the idea of home? How did it stage encounters between the rooted and the displaced? This thesis argues that a particular body of travel writing, encompassing the factual travelogue and travel fiction, discrete from the contemporaneous popular form of travelogue, and often notably merging with war writing, emerged in the interwar period and 1940s. In this late modernist genre, texts are permeated by thought about the homes from which writers set off, and yet typically resist certainties about mapping the space of a metaphysical home and homeland, or to trusting in anything more than their provisional parameters. The first chapter establishes this thesis' broader methodology of reading travel literature across modes and genres, and investigates the chronic instability of the English home as represented in the work of Evelyn Waugh. Chapter Two traces W. H. Auden's poetic representation of travelled topographies and of the metonymic, elusive 'elsewhere' that signals a failure to finally arrive at real locations. Chapter Three is concerned with nationalism and its place in shaping personal and collective conceptualisations of home, focusing on the work of Rebecca West. The final chapter looks at Cyril Connolly's contribution to the production and reception of the travel genre, and in particular his review of the arts and literature, Horizon (1940-1949) as a forum that brought together those who travelled or dreamed of travel, and that served as an important catalyst for the hybridisation of travel and war writing in the 1940s.
Supervisor: Beasley, Rebecca Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available