ara Wasson. Urban Gothic of the Second World War: Dark London. Palgrave, 2010.
This book examines ‘home front’ literature of the Second World War, arguing that Gothic tropes and forms mark moments of fracture in the national mythologies of wartime home, city and fellowship. These works in the Gothic mode subvert mythologies of nation that are still influential today. Anna Kavan, Mervyn Peake, Elizabeth Bowen, Roy Fuller, Henry Green and others present counter-stories to the dominant national mythology of British survival and emotional resilience. In the texts of this monograph, the city grows strange, time distorts, and hallucinatory narrative voices depict a nightmare realm.
Doubling, temporal dislocation, narrative disjunction and tropes of haunting gather around shadowy figures on the margin of the nation. This book moves from city streets, to hospitals and prisons, to factories, to homes and finally to morgues. Each location presents a London that is, in the words of Mervyn Peake, “half masonry, half pain.”