4 Pages


ByWilliam Cederwell

Wartime and postwar London writing honed in on the type of individualism, testing the certainties of propaganda and war mood. It confirms a truth about literature, more broadly, and its unique strength in working out experience. In the particular climate of wartime, literature provided a much-needed freedom of interpretation and imagining. Literature was also a counterbalance to the wireless broadcasts, newsreels and stirring films, or the way Londoners were caught up, like Roe in Caught, in an excited reiteration of their war roles. In focusing on London, rather than on a single author or group of authors, and drawing on a broad cross-section of source material, the aim of the study has been to convey the literary and social context to the wartime city. Prewar sleep and subsequent depictions of anxiety become ways of negotiating war's demands, while the recasting of London's resilient crowds helps to alleviate a war-hardened mood.