Abstract

Looking at late modernist writing in Britain alongside the modernist architectural practices advanced by the 1940s British state affords a newly historical and material perspective on late modernism’s relationship to democratic collectivism. This paper reads late modernist fiction (Christopher Isherwood, George Orwell, and Elizabeth Bowen) against social reformers’ and Labour politicians’ embrace of architectural modernism as rebuilding plans circulated immediately prior to and during World War II. Examining these novels alongside that much more visible and public institutionalization of modernism, I argue that these authors’ insistent use of the language of traditional and modernist architecture registers--and second-guesses--their own politicization of form.

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