book cover of The Later Fiction of Elizabeth Bowen

The Later Fiction of Elizabeth Bowen

A non fiction book by

The Anglo-Irish author Elizabeth Bowen (1899-1973) entered the literary arena in the 1920s, at a time when the English novel was flourishing and the short story beginning to be recognized as a serious art form. Between 1927 and 1938 she published six full-length novels; it was largely the pressures of the Second World War that then caused eleven years to elapse before she brought out her much acclaimed novel of wartime London, "The Heat of the Day" (1949). This novel, a medley of romance, spy-story and psychological thriller, anticipated the three novels Bowen went on to write in the 1950s and 1960s, which are all concerned with problems of identity and communication; all deal with the passing of time and the influence of the dead on the living, and all demonstrate the dangers of looking into the past for a present-day sense of security and identity. Earlier criticism has on the whole tended to neglect her last three novels, dismissing "A World of Love" as out-moded and frankly puzzled by "The Little Girls" and "Eva Trout". It is only fairly recently that these works, and especially the disruptive strategies of the last two, have met with so much critical appreciation that they are now generally admitted to enhance rather than question Bowen's reputation. Lis Christensen examines some aspects of theme and strategy in these last four novels, glancing also at Bowen's post-war stories. Brief presentations and plot summaries are placed in the context of her life and dealt with in a separate section.

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