Tag Archives: edwardian literature

Essay: Bennett Amongst the Modernists

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On October 17th-18th, the Edwardian Culture Network will host a symposium entitled ‘Arnold Bennett and his Circle’ (see our ‘events’ pages for more details). In the following short essay, Dr. Andrew Glazzard, one of the co-organizers, anticipates some of the issues we intend to cover in our discussions.

I’d like to try a thought experiment – a game of matching the novel with the writer. Take two novels, both written in 1922 – ‘the year of Modernism’. One is set in a city, but very little happens. This novel is narrated with ironic detachment, and dwells on the drab lives of ordinary people who fail to understand each other. The other is an adventure story, set on the French coast during the Napoleonic Wars. It is about a pirate, features buried treasure, includes a love story between a dashing soldier and a beautiful woman, and ends with an exciting chase featuring Horatio Nelson.

One of these novels was written by an early modernist – an innovator who remains a fixture on university syllabuses, and has been widely acknowledged for his technical achievements and for bringing a sceptical, disillusioned world-view to British fiction. The other writer became immensely popular in his lifetime, was regarded by his younger contemporaries as an exemplar of everything that was wrong about the Edwardian novel, and today in the world of academic Eng.Lit is almost completely disregarded. Which author do you think wrote which novel? Continue reading

On Arnold Bennett (1): Sincerity, Truthfulness, and Insight

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St. John’s Square, Burslem

Following our series of quotations from books by Arnold Bennett, we have decided to compile some choice comments on Arnold Bennett and his fiction, by a range of well-known and unknown writers. First up, an unsigned review from the US:

‘Unhappily named and ungainly in appearance, filling nearly six hundred pages of close typography, opening in a way that promises to tax the reader’s endurance, and concerned from beginning to end with mean or commonplace characters, not one of whom is tricked out with the attributes that are commonly thought necessary to arouse sympathy and retain interest, The Old Wives Tale, by Mr. Arnold Bennett, is nevertheless a remarkable work of fiction, a book of such sincerity, truthfulness, and insight as to make the ordinary novel seem hopelessly shallow and artificial by comparison.’ (Unsigned Review, Dial, Chicago, 1st October 1909)

For more information on our upc0ming symposium (‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’), see here (or e-mail us at edwardianculture@hotmail.co.uk for a draft programme of the day’s events).

Review: Reading Saki

saki

Brian Gibson, Reading Saki: The Fiction of H.H. Munro (McFarland & Company Inc., 2014)

Hector Hugh Munro, best known by his pen-name ‘Saki’, was a true “Edwardian” writer, with a literary career which spanned the period from late 1890s until his death on the Front in 1916. He was born in Burma, raised in England, and travelled throughout Europe with his family to improve his education; not an especially irregular upbringing for middle-class children during the days of the Empire. Munro’s works encapsulate the lingering nostalgic Victorian notions of Empire, not only in terms of the exotic appeal and the yet cultural un-attainability of the colonies, but also of European rivals, particularly the Russian Empire (which projected, for him, a glorious image of Romance and chivalry). He is known predominantly for short satirical stories, offering deliciously scathing commentaries and dark sketches on the superficiality he perceived in the society of his time. Continue reading

Arnold Bennett and His Circle: Registration Open

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REGISTRATION NOW OPEN: ‘ARNOLD BENNETT AND HIS CIRCLE’

The Old Library, Keele Hall, KEELE UNIVERSITY 17TH-18TH OCTOBER 2014

The Edwardian Culture Network, in association with the Arnold Bennett Society, is delighted to announce that registration is now open for ‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’.

At once both a commercially-successful and an experimental writer, Bennett’s range encompassed commercial fiction and naturalism, self-help books and short stories, journalism and science-fiction. Though he was held in high esteem by many of his contemporaries, Bennett’s critical reputation has suffered over the course of the twentieth century. ‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’ will present Bennett as an icon of the Edwardian age, fundamental to our understanding of the period, and a writer whose work needs to be considered specifically in an Edwardian context. It will also explore Bennett’s relevance and legacy to twenty-first century readerships.

Confirmed speakers include Professor David Amigoni (Keele University), Professor Ruth Robbins (Leeds Beckett), and Professor Deborah Wynne (University of Chester).

The cost of the weekend is £20, which includes a guided walk of Burslem by John Shapcott, a noted authority on Bennett. To register, please visit: http://www.eventbrite.com/e/arnold-bennett-and-his-circle-tickets-12718692953?aff=es2

Due to the terms of our room booking, we will be unable to provide delegates with lunch and refreshments. However, there are a number of food and retail outlets available on the Keele University campus. For more information about these, please see: http://www.keele.ac.uk/foodanddrink/restaurantsbars/

Download conference poster: Bennett and His Circle Poster14

CFP: Enchanted Edwardians

thewindinthewillows

We are pleased to announce the title and call for papers for our third annual conference. Please see details below, and share with interested parties! (pdf version: Enchanted Edwardians CFP)

CALL FOR PAPERS: ENCHANTED EDWARDIANS

Third Annual Conference of the Edwardian Culture Network,

University of Bristol, 30TH-31ST MARCH 2015

 ♦

Confirmed Keynote Speakers:

Professor Ronald Hutton (University of Bristol) and Dr. Sarah Turner (Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art)

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‘The Hills are empty now, and all the People of the Hills are gone. I’m the only one left. I’m Puck, the oldest Old Thing in England, very much at your service if—if you care to have anything to do with me’.

Rudyard Kipling, Puck of Pook’s Hill (1906)

Edwardian culture is filled with otherworldly encounters: from Rat and Mole’s meeting with Pan on the riverbank in Wind in the Willows (1908), to Lionel Wallace’s glimpse of an enchanted garden beyond the green door in H. G. Well’s short story The Door in the Wall (1911). In art, Charles Conder’s painted fans evoked an exotic arcadia, whilst the music of Edward Elgar and Frederick Delius conjured up nostalgic dreamlands.

Such encounters are all the more powerful because of their briefness: the sense that enchantment is, as Kipling suggests in Puck of Pook’s Hill, fast becoming a thing of the past. What room was left for fantasy in the modern, scientifically advanced world of the early twentieth century? This conference seeks to explore this question, and to investigate other ways in which the Edwardians understood and employed the idea of the enchanted, the haunted and the supernatural.

We invite 300-word proposals for papers on any aspect of the theme ‘Enchanted Edwardians’, from scholars working in all fields of British culture c.1895-1914. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

 

♦ Art as a process of enchantment: enchantment as a metaphor for art; the legacy of Pre-Raphaelitism and Symbolism in art; the representation, or musical evocation, of enchanted worlds.

♦ Childhood: childhood as an enchanted land; representations and understandings of childhood in Edwardian culture and psychology; Kenneth Grahame, J. M. Barrie and the ‘Golden Age’ of children’s literature.

♦  Enchanted and Haunted Spaces: Britain as an ‘enchanted isle’; the landscape as a culmination of historically enchanted layers; Conan Doyle and the concept of ‘lost worlds’; echoes of ‘Eden’, ‘Cockaigne’ and ‘Arcadia’.

♦  Fairytales and Mythologies: fantasy literature in the Edwardian age; appropriation of mythological stories; Yeats and the Celtic Revival.

♦  Psychologies: psychoanalysis and the dream-world; Freud and British culture; art and interiority.

♦  Science and Technology: new inventions and breakthroughs such as the motor car, air travel, quantum theory, x-ray, Marconi and the trans-Atlantic telegraph; science fiction; time-travel.

♦  Sensuality and the ‘Other’: enchantment and exoticism; the enchantment of other cultures; Omar Khayyam and the Arabian Nights; the Edwardian interest in Chinese, Indian, and Japanese cultures.

♦  Spirituality and the Supernatural: theosophy; mysticism; witchcraft and the occult; ghost stories; séances; theological modernism; the relationship between culture and religion; James Frazer and the ‘The Golden Bough’.

♦  Disenchantment: enchantment and its antitheses; fantasy versus realism; the magical and the prosaic; imagination and pragmatism.

 

Proposals should be sent to edwardianculture@hotmail.co.uk no later than December 5th 2014. For more about the Edwardian Culture Network, including previous conferences and events, see www.edwardianculture.com

This conference will be hosted by the University of Bristol, in association with the Edwardian Culture Network.

CFP Reminder: Arnold Bennett and his Circle

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CALL FOR PAPERS: ‘ARNOLD BENNETT AND HIS CIRCLE’: A SYMPOSIUM CO-HOSTED BY THE EDWARDIAN CULTURE NETWORK AND THE ARNOLD BENNETT SOCIETY

KEELE UNIVERSITY 17TH – 18TH OCTOBER 2014

As I closed the book at 7 in the morning after the shortest sleepless night of my experience a thought passed through my head that I knew pretty well my “Bennett militant” and that, not to be too complimentary, he was a pretty good hand at it; but that there I had “Bennett triumphant” without any doubt whatever. A memorable night.

Joseph Conrad in a letter to Arnold Bennett, January 1924

Conrad was one of many contemporaries who recognised Arnold Bennett as one of the most assured and influential writers of his generation. At once both a commercially-successful and an experimental writer, Bennett’s range encompassed commercial fiction and naturalism, self-help books and short stories, journalism and science-fiction. ‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’ will seek to present Bennett as an icon of the Edwardian age, fundamental to our understanding of the period, and a writer whose work needs to be considered specifically in an Edwardian context.

We invite abstracts (250-300 words) for ten-minute papers on any aspect of Bennett’s Edwardian writing, biography and wider circle. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

–  Bennett and the Edwardian literary field

–  Bennett’s literary theories

–  Bennett and his contemporaries

–  Bennett’s influences and influence

–  Bennett and genre

–  Bennett and material culture

–  Bennett’s readers

Proposals should be sent to edwardianculture@hotmail.co.uk by Monday 30th June 2014. Confirmed speakers include Professor David Amigoni (Keele University), Professor Ruth Robbins (Leeds Metropolitan University), John Shapcott (Keele University), and Professor Deborah Wynne (University of Chester). For updates about the event, please visit www.edwardianculture.com

CFP: H.G. Wells and his World on the Eve of the War

warworlds

When the Lamps Went Out: H. G. Wells and his World on the Eve of the War: H. G. Wells Society Conference, Durham,

27 September 2014

Plenary speakers:
Professor Matthew Pateman (Sheffield Hallam University)
Megan Shepherd (author of The Madman’s Daughter)

This year will see the anniversary of the outbreak of what H. G. Wells optimistically hoped would be ‘The War that Will End War’. When the Lamps Went Out is a conference that seeks to take a snapshot of the literary, political and social landscape at the end of the ‘long nineteenth century’ and the dawn of the First World War. We welcome papers on Wells’s Edwardian and early twentieth-century work, on his political and discussion novels, and/or on his journalistic, political, utopian and wargaming writing, and on the legacies of the nineteenth century in the early twentieth. We also invite papers on connections with the writers and people of significance from Wells’s circle in this period: such figures may include (but need not be confined to): Elizabeth von Arnim, Arnold Bennett, Edward Carpenter, G. K Chesterton, Joseph Conrad, Ford Madox Ford, John Galsworthy, Alfred Harmsworth, Violet Hunt, Vernon Lee, C. F. G Masterman, E. Nesbit, Amber Reeves, Dorothy Richardson, Elizabeth Robins, Robert Ross, Bertrand Russell, George Bernard Shaw, Frederick Soddy, Beatrice and Sidney Webb, Rebecca West… We especially welcome proposals for papers on Wells, gender, sexuality and marriage.

Papers should be no more than 20 minutes long. Please send proposals (maximum of 250 words) by no later than 20th June 2014, or expressions of interest in attending, to s.j.james@durham.ac.uk

When the Lamps Went Out is a collaboration between Durham University Centre for Nineteenth-Century Studies, the H. G. Wells Society and the Edwardian Culture Network. Attendance fee is: H G Wells Society members: unwaged £20, waged £30; non-Members: unwaged £25, waged £35. The Wells Society can be joined at:http://www.hgwellsusa.50megs.com/.

This conference also marks the launch of the exhibition Books for Boys: Heroism, Empire and Adventure at the Dawn of the First World War. Books for Boys tells the story of Britain and Germany in the years leading up to the Great War through showing what the public enjoyed reading.The exhibition will also display late-Victorian and Edwardian maps, toys, uniforms, photographs, pictures, medals, literary memorabilia and other artefacts and ephemera. Conference delegates will be invited to a private view of the exhibition on the evening preceding the conference.

CFP: Arnold Bennett and His Circle

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Arnold Bennett in 1913, by Alvin Langdon Coburn

CALL FOR PAPERS: ‘ARNOLD BENNETT AND HIS CIRCLE’: A SYMPOSIUM CO-HOSTED BY THE EDWARDIAN CULTURE NETWORK AND THE ARNOLD BENNETT SOCIETY

KEELE UNIVERSITY 17TH – 18TH OCTOBER 2014

As I closed the book at 7 in the morning after the shortest sleepless night of my experience a thought passed through my head that I knew pretty well my “Bennett militant” and that, not to be too complimentary, he was a pretty good hand at it; but that there I had “Bennett triumphant” without any doubt whatever. A memorable night.

Joseph Conrad in a letter to Arnold Bennett, January 1924

Conrad was one of many contemporaries who recognised Arnold Bennett as one of the most assured and influential writers of his generation. At once both a commercially-successful and an experimental writer, Bennett’s range encompassed commercial fiction and naturalism, self-help books and short stories, journalism and science-fiction. ‘Arnold Bennett and His Circle’ will seek to present Bennett as an icon of the Edwardian age, fundamental to our understanding of the period, and a writer whose work needs to be considered specifically in an Edwardian context.

We invite abstracts (250-300 words) for ten-minute papers on any aspect of Bennett’s Edwardian writing, biography and wider circle. Topics might include, but are not limited to:

–  Bennett and the Edwardian literary field

–  Bennett’s literary theories

–  Bennett and his contemporaries

–  Bennett’s influences and influence

–  Bennett and genre

–  Bennett and material culture

–  Bennett’s readers

Proposals should be sent to edwardianculture@hotmail.co.uk by Monday 30th June 2014. Confirmed speakers include Professor David Amigoni (Keele University), Professor Ruth Robbins (Leeds Metropolitan University), John Shapcott (Keele University), and Professor Deborah Wynne (University of Chester). For updates about the event, please visit www.edwardianculture.com

CFP: Maverick Voices and Modernity

‘We Speak a Different Tongue’: Maverick Voices and Modernity

International Conference, St. John’s College, Durham University, UK, 5-6 July 2013

Plenary speakers: Professor Chris Baldick (Goldsmiths College, University of London) and Professor Michael O’Neill (Durham University)

With a focus on the fiction, poetry, and drama of the period 1890-1939, “Maverick Voices” registers the diversity of innovation beyond the traditionally defined boundaries of literary Modernism. Famously in “Mr. Bennett and Mrs. Brown” (1924), Virginia Woolf distinguishes between two literary camps: the Edwardians and the Georgians. By praising the Georgians and vilifying the Edwardians, Woolf privileges an aesthetic of what later became identified as Modernism against a continuing tradition of realism. This is indicative of both continuities and discontinuities – between Modernism and, in Yeats’s phrase, those different tongues of nineteenth-century sensibilities – which have prevailed as a persistent presence in much recent literary criticism.

“Maverick Voices” contributes to current debates about where the boundaries of literary Modernism should be drawn. Continue reading

Call for Papers: Beyond the Garden Party: Re-thinking Edwardian Culture

Spencer Gore, ‘The Garden Path’, c.1910

CALL FOR PAPERS: Beyond the Garden Party: Re-thinking Edwardian Culture

It must have seemed like a long garden party on a golden afternoon – to those who were inside the garden. But a great deal that was important was going on outside the garden: it was out there that the twentieth-century world was being made. Nostalgia is a pleasing emotion, but it is also a simplifying one; to think of Edwardian England as a peaceful, opulent world before the flood is to misread the age and to misunderstand the changes that were dramatized by the First World War (Samuel Hynes, The Edwardian Turn of Mind).

More than forty years since Samuel Hynes wrote these words, many accounts and representations of Edwardian England still invoke the image of the garden party. Building on recent critical reappraisals, such as The Edwardian Sense (Yale 2010), and coinciding with the major Edwardian exhibition at the Yale Center for British Art, this interdisciplinary conference seeks to examine this notion, and to explore the alternatives. Was there such a thing as a distinct Edwardian culture; if so, what were the forces behind it?

We invite papers on any aspect of British culture between the years 1895-1914 (the ‘long Edwardian’ era). Topics may include, but are not limited to, the following:

• Edwardian Media: art, communication technologies, design, fashion, fiction, film, music, poetry, religion, theatre, and other forms of ‘high’ and ‘popular’ culture.
• Categorising the Edwardians: Victorianism/Edwardianism/Modernism/pre- and post-War/fin de siècle/the turn of the century. How useful is the term ‘Edwardian’?
• Revisionary Edwardians: challenging conventional notions of Edwardian writers, artists, and thinkers; fresh perspectives on famous Edwardians, and critical recoveries of neglected figures.
• Eclectic Edwardians: the catholicity of Edwardian taste and cultural products, the genre-hopping of Edwardian writers and artists, and Edwardian interdisciplinarity.
• Edwardian Afterlives: Edwardian nostalgia, Edwardian cultural afterlives, twenty-first-century visions of the Edwardians.
• The past and future of Edwardian studies; teaching the Edwardians.

‘Beyond the Garden Party: Re-thinking Edwardian Culture’ is the inaugural conference of the Edwardian Culture Network. The two-day conference will be joint-hosted by the Universities of York and Durham on 12th-13th April 2013. Speakers will be asked to state in which city they would prefer to give their paper.

Please send 300 word abstracts to edwardianculture@hotmail.co.uk by no later than Monday 3rd December 2012.