Introduction In the Space between Modernisms George Orwell and the Radical Eccentrics
George Orwell enthusiasts remember 1949 as the year Nineteen Eighty-Four was published. That year also marked the appearance of another book, Stevie Smith’s The Holiday. Smith had tried for years to find a publisher for this novel, and the typescript shows how she turned what had been a “war novel” into a “post-war novel” by making some simple alterations. Like Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Holiday evokes the landscape of an exhausted, bombed-out London, but unlike Orwell’s last, most famous book, Smith’s last novel identifies this terrain with the 1940s and populates it with thinly disguised versions of her wartime friends and associates. Celia Phoze, the novel’s narrating heroine and one of Smith’s fictional alter egos, tells us that the present time of the novel is “a year or so after the war,” a period that defies easy description because it functions as a space between the known sociopolitical realities of war and peace. Celia’s uncertainty about how to describe the period in which she lives is akin to critics’ uncertainty about how to place Smith’s novel among the literary periods and categories typically used to describe writing of the prewar, war, and immediately postwar years. I call this kind of writing “intermodernism” and begin to describe its qualities, ambitions, and contexts in the following pages, using chapters on Orwell, Smith, Mulk Raj Anand, and Inez Holden — their work and records of their intertwining lives — as supporting case studies.
KeywordsNight Shift Literary History Diary Entry Indian Section Congress Party
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