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Visions of a new Jerusalem: predictive fiction in the Second World War

By Tristram Hooley

Abstract

The Second World War has become central to British political culture. Narratives about the Blitz and the “New Jerusalem” sought by the 1945 Labour administration are frequently evoked to justify and contextualise contemporary political action. Increasingly, however, the nature of these narratives has been called into question by historians of the period.\ud This thesis contextualises the imaginative fictions of the Second World War within relevant political and historiographical traditions. Focusing on fictions that imagined future or alternative societies, it is argued that there were a number of hidden discourses that called into question values that are assumed to have been dominant. The thesis goes on to examine the implications of these alternative discourses for both the historiography and literature of the period.\ud A number of linked genres are identified that deal with possible futures or alternatives to British society. Fears about impending catastrophe and invasion are examined alongside imaginative presentations of fascist and communist societies. Finally the dystopian and utopian fiction of the period is examined and compared with non-literary fears and hopes about the post-war world.\ud Through close engagement with the culture of the Second World War this study asks fundamental questions about the relationship between past, present and future. Examining how politics and culture interact, it aims to contribute to rethinking the way in which literature is studied and to argue for a reassessment of the historiography of the Second World War

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2002
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/853

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