Political and Social Issues in British Women’s Fiction, by Elizabeth Maslen (auth.)

By Elizabeth Maslen (auth.)

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Memorably, Woolf's enigmatic last novel Between the Acts (1941) sets a view of history as an `interrupted structure' in Miss La Trobe's pageant against an audience involved with imminent world war, each with their own priorities expressed in subtly interwoven images, both linguistic and visual. Jean Radford sums up the conclusions of Judith L. 75 Some women found the writing of novels incompatible with their experiences of the complexities of war; Elizabeth Bowen wrote only short stories, Lettice Cooper wrote nothing.

He does not know as much as the woman's forefinger knows when it scrapes the black out of a crack in the table or the corner of a shelf . . too much of [the writer's ] energy runs away in an intense interest in and curiosity about his feelings. (p. 557) But she does not acknowledge that photographic images are far from proof against subjective manipulation. Woolf, for instance, manipulates two sets of photographs in Three Guineas (published in 1938), one originally printed with the text, the other described verbally.

Actual reality has slipped into the functional. The reification of human relations ± the factory, say ± means that they are no longer explicit. 21 But documentary realism is only one of the modes practised throughout the four decades. Many writers of the period experiment with a range of subgenres: science fiction, murder mystery or the historical novel (in which they may look at the past so as to trace possible roots for tendencies in the present, to give a context and structure to such tendencies so as to see them more clearly), and indeed, even the kind of realist novel which explores domesticity, are in many cases far from disengaged from the public sphere, as the public is seen as rooted in the private, more and more insistently as the century progresses.

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