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Literary Culture in Mid-Twentieth-Century Britain

Edited by Kristin Bluemel

Hardback i (Printed to Order)
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This collection of original critical essays challenges readers to accept a new term, new critical category, and new literary history for twentieth-century British literature. It takes as its primary subject the fascinating and typically neglected writing of the years of the Depression and World War II - the fiction, memoirs, criticism, and journalism of writers such as Elizabeth Bowen, Storm Jameson, William Empson, George Orwell, J. B. Priestley, Harold Heslop, T. H. White, Rebecca West, John Grierson, Margery Allingham, and Stella Gibbons. Divided into four sections: Work; Community; War; and Documents, the volume focuses on qualities that distinguish these writers' literary efforts from those of the modernists or postmodernists, elucidating the web of historical, institutional, and personal relationships that together define intermodernism.

Researching, analyzing, and theorising intermodernism, this book focuses on three kinds of intermodern features in texts that are typically ignored in accounts of modernism or The Auden Generation: cultural features (intermodernists typically represent working-class and working middle-class cultures); political features (intermodernists are politically radical, 'radically eccentric'); and literary features (intermodernists are committed to non-canonical, even 'middlebrow' or 'mass' genres). To encourage future scholarship on intermodernism, the volume concludes with an appendix, 'Who Were the Intermodernists?', and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

    Key features
  • Presents ten original chapters written by active and prominent scholars of mid-century British literary culture
  • Launches an ambitious, long-term project that marks out a new period and style in twentieth-century literary history
  • Broad-ranging, treating novels, journalism, manifestos, short stories, film, poetry, memoirs, letters, and travel narratives of the interwar, war, and immediately post-World War II years


Introduction: What is Intermodernism?, Kristin Bluemel
Part I: Work
1. A Cassandra with Clout: Storm Jameson, Little Englander and Good European,
Elizabeth Maslen
2. Englands Ancient and Modern: Sylvia Townsend Warner, T. H. White and the Fictions of Medieval Englishness, Janet Montefiore
3. 'A Strange Field': Region and Class in the Novels of Harold Heslop, John Fordham
Part II: Community
4. Stella Gibbons, Ex-Centricity and the Suburb, Faye Hammill
5. Intermodern Travel: J. B. Priestley's English and American Journeys, Lisa Colletta
Part III: War
6. Under Suspicion: The Plotting of Britain in World War II Detective Spy Fiction,
Phyllis Lassner
7. Trials and Errors: The Heat of the Day and Postwar Culpability,
Allan Hepburn
8. Rebecca West's Palimpsestic Praxis: Crafting the Intermodern Voice of Witness, Debra Rae Cohen
Part IV: Documents
9. The Intermodern Assumption of the Future: William Empson, Charles Madge and Mass-Observation, Nick Hubble
10. 'The creative treatment of actuality': John Grierson, Documentary Cinema and 'Fact' in the 1930s, Laura Marcus
Appendix: Who Are the Intermodernists?
Select Bibliography
Notes on Contributors

About the Author

Kristin Bluemel is Professor of English and Wayne D. McMurray Chair in the Humanities at Monmouth University in New Jersey. She is the author of books on modernist Dorothy Richardson and intermodernist George Orwell; articles and chapters on regional and middlebrow writers; editor of Intermodernism: Literary Culture in Mid-Twentieth-Century Britain, and past editor of the journal The Space Between: Literature and Culture, 1914-1945. Her work in progress examines interwar women wood engravers.


Intermodernism is an attractive book in its own right, full of thoughtful and often surprising readings of particular texts, writers, and movements. It is also a welcome and substantial contribution to the ongoing rediscovery of mid-twentieth century British writing: that “fascinating, compelling and grossly neglected” body of work, as Kristin Bluemel sums it up in her opening paragraph.

- Marina MacKay, Washington University in St. Louis, Journal of British Studies