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World War II marked the beginning of the end of literary modernism in Britain. However, this late period of modernism and its response to the war have not yet received the scholarly attention they deserve. In this full-length study of modernism and World War II, Marina MacKay offers historical readings of Virginia Woolf, Rebecca West, T. S. Eliot, Henry Green and Evelyn Waugh set against the dramatic background of national struggle and transformation. In recovering how these major authors engaged with other texts of their time - political discourses, mass and middlebrow culture - this study reveals how World War II brought to the surface the underlying politics of modernism's aesthetic practices. Through close analyses of the revisions made to modernist thinking after 1939, MacKay establishes the significance of this persistently neglected phase of modern literature as a watershed moment in twentieth-century literary history.
Marina MacKay is Assistant Professor of English at Washington University in St. Louis.