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11-1 lecture Bowen

11-1 lecture Bowen - For the next two weeks literature that...

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For the next two weeks: literature that emerged from WWII, and in particular from the phenomenon of the London Blitz Quick introduction: Blitz often used to describe all German bombing of Britain but specifically refers to the period of the sustained bombing campaign between September 6, 1940 and May 10, 1941, bombing that was purported to be a “softening-up” of the nation in advance of invasion, but may actually have been seen by Hitler as a way of convincing Britain into a quick negotiated settlement During this period, London was not the only target, but it was the chief one, bombed 76 nights in a row, to devastating effect: nearly 25,000 Londoners killed, a million buildings destroyed or damaged, 375,000 Londoners left homeless, the shape of the city changed --we’ve been talking all semester about relation between country & city --this a particularly important juncture --one could argue that it’s with the Blitz, and the ongoing myth of the Blitz, that the traditional location of “Englishness” and authenticity in the country finally gets displaced (remember the way we saw that country used as the touchstone in WWI recruiting) --after WWII it was more often the images of survival in the Blitz, for instance images of the stations of the London Underground being used as air-raid shelters, sites of a kind of all-for-one community resistance, that became the symbols of the “true British spirit”
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--clichés of gallant Cockneys etc developed for propaganda purposes but became internalized --stories of comradeship and unity, breakdown of class barriers, cheerful good humor, coolness under fire: “yes, that was probably bombs, Master James, but that’s no excuse for elbows on the table.” Other survival symbols: St. Paul’s, Big Ben, image of royalty staying put Now, early in the war it didn’t appear that this was going to be the case, that London would become so central to ideas of British survival --1939 during period known as the “Phoney War” a great stress on evacuation to the countryside, particularly of children (“Operation Pied Piper) --huge operation (3.5 million people moved in the first few days) but very badly handled --groups split up --some areas overwhelmed --many families, groups actually returned to London when expected bombings didn’t materialize, feeling homesick, uprooted (especially difficult for East End kids) --by January 1940 200,000 children in London needing schools
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11-1 lecture Bowen - For the next two weeks literature that...

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