Elizabeth Bowen: The Enforced Return

Overview

"Neil Corcoran presents here a study of Elizabeth Bowen's novels, short stories, family history, and essays, and shows that her work both inherits from the Modernist movement and transforms its experimental traditions." Elizabeth Bowen: The Enforced Return explores how she adapts Irish Protestant Gothic as a means of interpreting Irish experience during the Troubles of the 1920s and the Second World War, and also as a way of defining the defencelessness of those enduring the Blitz in wartime London. She employs versions of the Jamesian child as a ...
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Overview

"Neil Corcoran presents here a study of Elizabeth Bowen's novels, short stories, family history, and essays, and shows that her work both inherits from the Modernist movement and transforms its experimental traditions." Elizabeth Bowen: The Enforced Return explores how she adapts Irish Protestant Gothic as a means of interpreting Irish experience during the Troubles of the 1920s and the Second World War, and also as a way of defining the defencelessness of those enduring the Blitz in wartime London. She employs versions of the Jamesian child as a way of offering a critique of the treatment of children in the European novel of adultery, and indeed, implicitly, of the Jamesian child itself. Corcoran relates the various kinds of return and reflex in her work - notably the presence of the supernatural, but also the sense of being haunted by reading - to both the Freudian concept of the 'return of the repressed' and T.S. Eliot's conception of the auditory imagination as a 'return to the origin'.
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Editorial Reviews

Stacey D'Erasmo
The latest glimpse into Bowen's work is Neil Corcoran's insightful, slender Elizabeth Bowen: The Enforced Return. As the colon suggests, this is an academic study -- the word ''aporia'' will be used -- but Corcoran is also a fan, hooked since his teens, who speaks passionately of ''my own Elizabeth Bowen.'' A professor of English at the University of Liverpool, he is eloquent throughout on two of the strongest strains in Bowen's work: her hauntedness, and what he calls ''the gift or pain or dislocation of living between Ireland and England, of being bilocated.''
— The New York Times
From the Publisher
"Insightful. Corcoran is eloquent throughout on two of the strongest strains in Bowens work: her hauntedness, and what he calls the gift or pain or dislocation of living between Ireland and England."—New York Times Book Review

"Corcoran's investigation of largely unplumbed sources, such as Bowen's wartime bulletins to Churchill from Ireland and the diary of her lover Charles Ritchie, are pertinent and illuminating.... Most impresively... Corcoran's use of language is sensuous, nuanced and precise enough to stand comparison with Bowen's own scrupulous verbal intensity."—Lucy Carlyle, Times Literary Supplement

"The breadth and complexity of Professor Corcoran's terms of reference, which also include, most notably, T. S. Eliot and Sigmund Freud, mark this out as a scholarly work aimed primarily at postgraduates and other academics. But this defines rather than limits his achievement, which is to renovate an important landmark in the occasionally barren territory of mid-twentieth century literature."—Contemporary Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780198186908
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication date: 12/2/2004
  • Pages: 218
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 5.60 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Liverpool
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Table of Contents

1 The ghost in the house : Bowen's court (1942) and 'The back drawing-room' (1926) 19
2 Discovery of a lack : The last September (1928) 39
3 A ghost of style : A world of love (1955) 61
4 Mother and child : The house in Paris (1935) 81
5 Motherless child : The death of the heart (1938) 102
6 Childless mother : the disfigurations of Eva Trout or changing scenes (1968) 126
7 Words in the dark : The demon lover and other stories (1945) 147
8 War's stories : The heat of the day (1946) and its contexts 168
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