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Literature of the 1900s

The Great Edwardian Emporium

Jonathan Wild

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Challenges conventional views of the Edwardian period as either a hangover of Victorianism or a bystander to literary modernism

In this ground-breaking study, Jonathan Wild investigates the literary history of the Edwardian decade. This period, long overlooked by critics, is revealed as a vibrant cultural era whose writers were determined to break away from the stifling influence of preceding Victorianism. In the hands of this generation, which included writers such as Arnold Bennett, Joseph Conrad, E. M. Forster, Beatrix Potter, and H.G. Wells, the new century presented a unique opportunity to fashion innovative books for fresh audiences. Wild traces this literary innovation by conceptualising the focal points of his study as branches of one of the new department stores that epitomized Edwardian modernity.  These ‘departments’ – war and imperialism, the rise of the lower middle class, children’s literature, technology and decadence, and the condition of England – offer both discrete and interconnected ways in which to understand the distinctiveness and importance of the Edwardian literary scene. Overall, The Great Edwardian Emporium offers a long-overdue investigation into a decade of literature that provided the cultural foundation for the coming century.

Contents

Introduction
1. Department of War and External Affairs: The Anglo-Boer War and Imperialism
2. Department of Administration: Office Clerks and Shop Assistants
3. Children’s Department: Edwardian Children’s Literature
4. Department of Decadence: Sex, Cars, and Money
5. Department of Internal Affairs: England and the Countryside
Afterword
Works Cited.

About the Author

Jonathan Wild is Senior Lecturer in English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. He has published widely on late Victorian and Edwardian topics and is the author of The Rise of the Office Clerk in Literary Culture, 1880-1939 (2006).

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