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November 13 , 2007

English Modernism, National Identity and the Germans, 1890–1950


This is the first systematic study to trace the way representations of 'Germanness' in modernist British literature from 1890 to 1950 contributed to the development of English identity. Petra Rau examines the shift in attitudes towards Germany and Germans, from suspicious competitiveness in the late Victorian period to the aggressive hostility of the First World War and the curious inconsistencies of the 1930s and 1940s. These shifts were no simple response to political change but the result of an anxious negotiation of modernity in which specific aspects of Englishness were projected onto representations of Germans and Germany in English literature and culture. While this incisive argument clarifies and deepens our understanding of cultural and national politics in the first half of the twentieth century, it also complicates current debates surrounding race and 'otherness' in cultural studies. Authors discussed include major figures such as Conrad, Woolf, Lawrence, Ford, Forster and Bowen, as well as popular or less familiar writers such as Saki, Graham Greene, and Stevie Smith. Accessibly written and convincingly argued, Rau's study will not only be an important book for scholars but will serve as a valuable guide to undergraduates working in modernism, literary history, and European cultural relations.

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