Abstract

This essay intervenes in recent critical discussions of Elizabeth Bowen's literary writing by surveying her literary and social criticism. Bowen's literary values are grounded in a combination of Victorian and modernist aesthetics, described as the "impersonal personal." Bowen presciently examines realism's ability to foreground the linkage between power and interpersonal feeling, and she exhorts contemporary writers to realize this potential through the detached representation of personal experience. Bowen's eclectic literary values reflect ambivalence about the relation between literary production and the pressures of the market, and she views the feminine voice as a source of meliorative political and artistic possibilities.

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