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"And when, on the still cold nights, he pointed his nose at a star and howled long and wolflike, it was his ancestors, dead and dust, pointing nose at star and howling down through the centuries and through him."


from The Call of the Wild by Jack London

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Otherworld of the imagination

The Love-charm of Bombs: restless lives in the Second World War

Title: The Love-charm of Bombs: restless lives in the Second World War
By: Lara Feigel

Lara Feigel investigates the lives of five writers based in and out of London during WW II: Graham Greene, Elizabeth Bowen, Rose Macauley, Hilde Spiel, and Henry Yorke (writing as Henry Green). She begins with a bombing raid in London on September 1940 and continues through the war to postwar Europe. She delves into diaries, letters, historical archives,and the published fiction and other writings of these authors to explore the effects of wartime bombing and austerities on their lives and psyches, especially pertaining to their love lives and marriages. Many were involved with partners they were not married to; and, in some cases, these relationships seemed more meaningful than their marriages. The stress of being under attack caused individuals to live more passionately and take more risks than they would during peacetime. This invested their wartime romance with a powerful attraction that in some cases lasted lifelong. For some, the special qualities of time spent with the partner outside their marriage created a sort of otherworld of the imagination that continued to be important for the duration of their creative, writing life.

"For Elizabeth, there could be no question of leaving Charles, because by this point her entire imaginative landscape was bound up with him. To give him up would be to give up not only seeing him but also writing to him, which would be to renounce a mode of being in which she was never completely alone because she was always living partly in the terms in which she would describe her experiences to him."

This is biography through a particular set of lenses: wartime life, relationships, and writing. It is a work of love and insight, deeply researched and well-written.

View similarly tagged posts: non-fiction

Posted by April on June 9, 2014 at 8 a.m.
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