LiTerra.net - article - Literature - English post-war Novels

English post-war Novels

A possible theme network to analyse English post-war novels

Modernism and after
Some Critics have read post-war novels as recoiling the issues of Modernism. A realistic representation of the post-war society was for many writers more important than new attempts of form and style.

Englishness
Aspects of National Identity are presented within the cultural production of a period. Although the English national identity as such can be regarded as increasingly fragmented in the 20th century, the sense of Englishness and tradition play important roles in the post-war writing. Furthermore, the immigration waves of the 1950s and 1960s implimented a strong cultural awareness within the 1970s and 1980s. What it means to be ‘english’ was and still is a difficult question.

History
Before World War II British history was World history (Britain being one of the major powers of the world). After World War II and the process of decolonialization, writers were in need for other methods to represent history. The idea of history as the ‘grand narrative’ has more and more been regarded as insufficient. Some authors attempted to revisit the past and to look at the past in a more self-critical and ironic way and as such started to rewrite it.
Some post-war novelists used the intimate or personal history, which in their view was abel to represent the past in a true way. To present the past in the most verified way, they used multiple voices, which offered different historical perspectives. Within this form the authors could easily focus on the inglorious ways of history rather than to follow the English tradition of glorifying the past (see V. Woolf Between the Acts).

End of History
The Apocalyptic novel tries to come to terms with the ‘end of history’. From the 1950s to the 1980s the nuclear threat as well as the fear of a global war of super-powers, and from the 1980s the increasing environmental problems (e.g. global warming) were experienced. These fears were transferred into literature. Hence, narrations of a life after and before the apocalypse were imagined. Nevertheless, it has to be pointed out that historical events, such as the Holocaust, the atomic bomb of Hiroshima or most recently 9/11 place such apocalyptic concepts rather in the real than the imagined world.

Textile Help