chapter  2
31 Pages

London Can Take It

ByWilliam Cederwell

The London blitz is Richard Hillary's awakening and The Last Enemy, which pays tribute to the heroism of his dead Royal Air Force comrades, is testimony to this new vision. But the London episode in The Last Enemy stands out for a certain staginess, particularly the way the blitz is an instant cue to high emotion and moral lesson. Basil Woon, a London-born journalist and author, had been struggling with writer's block in the summer of 1940. The changing nature of the East Ender was welcomed in Lady Nicholson's The Londoner, one of the 'Britain in Pictures' series of booklets published by Collins between 1941 and 1950. The way literature refuses to take up the baton, uncritically, of London imagery from newspaper or newsreel is partly a resistance to letting London's vaunted resilience colour all interpretations of home-front experience.