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The Promise of Welfare in the Postwar British and Anglophone Novel: States of Repair (Oxford Mid-Century Studies) (Hardcover)

The Promise of Welfare in the Postwar British and Anglophone Novel: States of Repair (Oxford Mid-Century Studies) By Kelly M. Rich Cover Image
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The Promise of Welfare in the Postwar British Novel offers a new literary history of the Second World War and its aftermath by focusing on wartime visions of rebuilding Britain. Shifting attention from the "People's War" to the "People's Peace," this book shows that literature returns to the historic transition from warfare to welfare to narrate its transformative social potential and darker failures. The welfare state envisioned that managing individuals' private lives would result in a more coherent and equitable community, a promise encapsulated in the 1942 Beveridge Report's promise of care from the "cradle to the grave." The postwar novel reveals the intimate effects that follow when infrastructures of collective living seek to organize social interaction, tracing these effects through quasi-administrated home spaces such as girls' hostels, makeshift sanatoria, and experimental schools.

Mid-century writers including Elizabeth Bowen, Muriel Spark, and Samuel Selvon used the militarized Home Front to present postwar Britain as a zone of lost privacy and new collective logics. As the century progressed, and as the unrealized dreams of welfare came to be dismantled, authors including Alan Hollinghurst, Michael Ondaatje, and Kazuo Ishiguro registered an unfulfilled nostalgia for a Britain that never was, situating British domestic policies within trajectories of historic and social violence. Contemporary fiction continues to reanimate the transition from a warfare state to a welfare state, preserving its transformative potential while redefining its possible futures. With this long view of postwar fiction, this volume demonstrates the holding power of welfare's promises of repair and Britain's mid-century on the British cultural imagination.

About the Author

Kelly M. Rich, Associate Professor of English, Harvard University Kelly M. Rich is Associate Professor of English at Harvard University.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780192893437
ISBN-10: 0192893432
Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
Publication Date: November 10th, 2023
Pages: 288
Language: English
Series: Oxford Mid-Century Studies