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The Eternal and Temporal in British Literary Modernism

Aoiffe Walsh, Royal Holloway, University of London

3rd July 2020

‘It was as if the filthy modern tide were wetting my heels as I scrambled to safety.’[1]

-Kathleen Raine

In 1932 Paul Nash questioned whether it was possible to ‘go modern’ and still ‘be British.’[2] As a painter of often abstract landscapes, inspired by his upbringing in rural Buckinghamshire, Nash contemplated the stability of British historical values in the face of modernity, claiming that ‘the battle lines [had] been drawn up: internationalism versus an indigenous culture; renovation versus conservatism; the industrial versus the pastoral; the function versus the futile.’ This sentiment gestured towards two types of Britishness: the identity sprung from British cultural history concerned with ‘traditional rural life’, and that which absorbs and welcomes the pace, products and advancements of modernity.[3] Continue reading “The Eternal and Temporal in British Literary Modernism”

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