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Fiction and trauma from the Second World War to 9/11

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    Rights statement: © Crosthwaite, P. (2015). Fiction and Trauma from the Second World War to 9/11. In P. Boxall, & B. Cheyette (Eds.), The Oxford History of the Novel in English: British and Irish Fiction since 1940. (Vol. 7). Oxford: Oxford University Press. This is a draft of a chapter that has been accepted for publication by Oxford University Press in the forthcoming book The Oxford History of the Novel in English: British and Irish Fiction since 1940. (Vol. 7). edited by Boxall, & B. Cheyette due for publication in 2015.

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Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford History of the Novel in English
Subtitle of host publicationBritish and Irish Fiction since 1940
EditorsPeter Boxall, Bryan Cheyette
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780198749394
Publication statusPublished - 4 Feb 2016


This chapter looks at how contemporary British and Irish novelists reflect on the spasms of catastrophic violence that have punctuated the twentieth century and continue to define the twenty-first. These events not only traumatized individuals on a mass scale, but also dealt irrevocable damage to foundational assumptions concerning reason, progress, meaning, and language. Such weighty preoccupations, however, took some time to fully coalesce in the fiction of the post-Second World War period. There were few substantial treatments of the war in its immediate aftermath. When such responses began to appear in the 1950s, and swelled in number in the 1960s, they did so predominantly in the form of conventional social realist narratives concerned with the immediate experience of combat and the impact of the conflict on the structures of British and Irish society.

    Research areas

  • trauma, violence, World War II, 9/11, conflict, loss

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