The role of landscape in Elizabeth Bowen’s Irish novels has been overshadowed by the critical emphasis on her representations of the Anglo-Irish big house. In contrast to this critical trend, this article argues that Bowen’s Irish landscapes stage questions of national identity and postcoloniality pervading mid-twentieth-century Irish culture and politics through negative epic forms, forms that reconfigure both realist and modernist conventions. In The Last September, landscape description reframes the scope of epic conventions and challenges narratives of geopolitical development, while in A World of Love, a late modern picturesque interrupts the romantic emplotment of Ireland’s entry into global capitalist networks.
Elizabeth Bowen’s Negative Epics: Landscape and Realism in The Last September and A World of Love
Jeannie Im is a senior lecturer in New York University’s Expository Writing Program. Her article on Virginia Woolf and Agnes Smedley recently appeared in Modern Fiction Studies. She is currently working on a book on supraterritoriality in late Modernist and postcolonial fiction.
Jeannie Im; Elizabeth Bowen’s Negative Epics: Landscape and Realism in The Last September and A World of Love. Twentieth-Century Literature 1 December 2015; 61 (4): 460–483. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0041462X-3343559
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