The proliferation of travel novels that emerged during the modernist period attests to modernism’s obsession with narratives of both geographical and cultural movement. However, something changed in the late modernist era as the fiction of the 1930s and early 1940s took an apparent inward turn. At first glance, late modernist novels such as Jean Rhys’s Voyage in the Dark (1934), Evelyn Waugh’s A Handful of Dust (1934), Joyce Cary’s To Be a Pilgrim (1942) and Virginia Woolf’s The Years (1937) appear to be more concerned with the possible ways of imagining home than with the possible narratives of travel.1 Voyage in the Dark and A Handful of Dust depict characters trapped in exile, dreaming of the homes they have left behind, whereas To Be a Pilgrim and The Years examine the domestic patterns of English family life in the inter-war years. The late modernists’ overt suspicion of the state of exile and concern with the notion of home has frequently and, I argue, incorrectly been read as a rejection of the journey motif and a retrenchment within the narrow bounds of the nation. For example, in A Shrinking Island: Modernism and National Culture in England (2004), Jed Esty describes what he sees as the increasingly parochial nature of late modernist fiction. Following critics such as Simon Gikandi, who notes that ‘Englishness was itself a product of the colonial culture that it seemed to have created elsewhere’ (1996: x), and Ian Baucom, who discusses the ‘imperial estrangement of English identity’ (1999: 4), Esty attributes late modernism’s apparent insularity to a crisis of national identity precipitated by the decline of the British Empire. Esty suggests that in the 1930s, ‘imperial Britain (abstract, infinite, expanding, diluting, schismatic) gives way to empirical Britain (concrete, bounded, insular, consolidated, integral)’ (2004: 52) and therefore characterises the fiction of this period as a kind

of domestic anthropology wherein the fictional examination of England and Englishness becomes part of a larger, inherently nostalgic project to recuperate the nation’s ‘lost insular wholeness’ (2004: 27). Esty’s argument suggests a critique of late modernist localism as bounded,

static and insular, evoking, in contrast, a kind of ideal cosmopolitanism that is open, mobile and liberating. The novels of Rhys, Waugh, Cary and Woolf considered in this chapter do not, however, reject the cosmopolitan world of travel even as they turn to examining the construction of home. Both Rhys and Waugh’s novels are structured around geographical journeys that set up a dialogue between home and abroad, the centre and the periphery of the British Empire. While the journey that takes Rhys’s Anna Morgan from the Caribbean to London occurs beyond the pages of the novel, before the action starts, it both precipitates and shapes all that happens to Anna and all of her impressions of London. Waugh’s Tony Last’s journey takes him in the opposite direction, away from London to the Americas, but he too sees the foreign lands that he encounters through the prism of a lost home. Both these travel novels are stories of exile that emphasise lost or unattained homes. Cary’s and Woolf’s novels seem less obvious examples of travel fiction, although they both contain frequent references to journeys, including those that Cary’s Tom Wilcher plans, but does not take, and those that Woolf’s Eleanor and North do take but are left unnarrated. These novels are primarily about homes that are themselves travelling, as they are transformed by the processes of history. Cary and Woolf thus affirm that travel is not always conducted on foreign soil. Taken together, all of these writers suggest that no matter how much or how little we travel geographically, our emotional and spiritual ties to a sense of home are always in the process of being imaginatively reconfigured. These four novels complicate the familiar oppositions between dwelling

and travel, localism and cosmopolitanism. They question the received definitions of these very categories, suggesting that dwelling is not always local, fixed and insular and that travel is not always cosmopolitan, mobile and liberating. They suggest the ways that late modernist fiction responds to a time of crisis in the history of Empire, examining what happens to the notion of home in the period between the height of imperialism and the beginning of decolonisation, in the transition from the colonial to the postcolonial moments. These novels reflect the changing mood of a historical epoch that was rethinking the nature of home on a global scale. Indeed, by travelling back to Britain’s borders, the novels illustrate that the nation was not, as Esty would have it, a ‘shrinking island’ but an island that was expanding from within its own borders to become a more and more culturally diverse territory. For Rhys, Waugh, Cary and Woolf, London becomes the key site for

examining the politics and spiritual ethics of dwelling. As John Ball points out in Imagining London, the capital has always been both an English and a transnational space, ‘a city whose international relations and populace go

back to the Roman Empire’ (2004: 5). Nonetheless, Ball traces what he sees as the ‘de-centering’ of London in recent history, examining the city’s transition from an imperial centre to a postcolonial, diasporic space. While Ball’s book carries out the important task of examining how the empire infiltrated and thus both physically and imaginatively transformed the imperial centre in the period of decolonisation, I wish to consider how, in the modernist period, writers began to subvert the framework of imperial relations from within the bounds of both the city and the nation and sought new ways of imagining the relationship between local and global spaces. In response to Raymond Williams’s discussion of metropolitan modernism, which characterises the city as a strange and alienating space that incorporates different cultures into a universalising version of urban cosmopolitanism (1989), many critics have averred the heterogeneous nature of modernist London, seeing the city as a site of racial, sexual and class emancipation. Sonita Sarker describes the atmosphere of 1930s London as ‘vibrantly contentious’ (2001: 34), and Sara Blair similarly maps out the cosmopolitan corners of the city, arguing that Bloomsbury – and particularly the British Museum and the nearby University College – fostered racial multiplicity and exhibited the culturally diverse nature of the urban area (2004). Nineteenthirties London witnessed the increasingly obvious presence of various international organisations, such as the United British Women’s Emigration Association, the Pan-African Congress and the League of Coloured Peoples; furthermore, the establishment of the Commonwealth in 1931 formally acknowledged the changing relationship between Great Britain and the colonies. However, the 1930s also saw the rise of fascism, the victories of Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin and the collapse of the League of Nations. It is hard to forget that 1930s London was the stomping ground of Oswald Mosley, who epitomises the defensive insularity that characterises the darker side of modernist England. In 1918, as a Conservative MP, Mosley became the youngest member to take a seat in the House of Commons. He founded the British Union of Fascists (BUF) in 1932, and, in 1937, the BUF won a quarter of the vote in the London County Council Elections.2 The increase in immigration and the influx of foreign faces thus promoted cosmopolitanism and parochialism, internationalism and nationalism, liberalism and fascism, not as a direct result of the cultural climate of the 1930s but as opposing yet related responses to contemporary conditions. Rhys, Waugh, Cary and Woolf are all concerned with issues of territory

and space, simultaneously examining the construction of the space of the nation and that of more personal or domestic spaces. The reconfiguration of the nation in the inter-war years is mirrored by the changing nature of contemporary personal spaces. More than 4 million new homes were built between 1919 and 1939, many of them in the growing suburban fringes of metropolitan areas, and, in the city centres, many large family houses were converted into flats (Stevenson 2000). The settings of these late modernist

novels reflect the changing fabric of the city. For example, Anna Morgan shifts between shoddy boarding houses in anonymous urban areas, all the while dreaming of her childhood home in the Caribbean, and Woolf’s characters move from spacious London townhouses to cramped London flats that they fill with souvenirs from their childhood home. These novels ask what binds people to places, questioning the processes by which the architectural space of a house can be transformed into the personal space of the home and whether or not a temporary or rented space can ever successfully foster a sense of home. In all four novels, homes are reconceived of as not only architectural buildings or domestic places but also sacred spaces. The theories of home and dwelling set out in the work of Gaston Bachelard

and Walter Benjamin help clarify these novels’ construction of home as a sacred space. In The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard defines the home as a ‘felicitous space’ that ‘has been seized upon by the imagination’ (1969: xxxixxxii); for Bachelard, the home is equally an architectural place and a spiritual space. As a repository of dreams and memories, the home ‘contains compressed time’ (Bachelard 1969: 8), and Bachelard connects the persistent symbolic significance of the childhood home with our search for origins. Although Bachelard contends that ‘a house constitutes a body of images that give mankind proofs or illusions of stability’, he also insists on the inherently mobile nature of the home (1969: 17). For Bachelard, each home contains within it the memory of different spaces and prior times and also has a dynamic relationship with the outside world that allows the dweller ‘to inhabit the universe. Or, to put it differently, the universe comes to inhabit his house’ (1969: 51). A secure sense of home then is dependent on not only the sacred nature of the domestic space but also the ability to accept movement as an inherent part of dwelling. In The Arcades Project (1927), Benjamin sketches a theory of dwelling that shares Bachelard’s belief in the connection between domestic spaces and inner life; he asserts that the home becomes ‘a receptacle for the person’ (Benjamin 1999: 220). Benjamin is, moreover, similarly interested in the relationship between the home and the exterior world, exploring the ways in which decorations and furnishing link the home up with the outside world and far-off places. While Benjamin suggests that there is something ‘maternal’ about dwelling – he notes the ‘image of that abode of the human being in the maternal womb’ – he also attempts to historicise dwelling as he argues that the new architectural spaces of the twentieth century have ‘put an end to dwelling in the old sense’ (1999: 220, 221). The works of Rhys, Waugh, Cary and Woolf are all interested in the

relationships between the home and the self, the home and the outside world, the home and history. As they return to the spaces of home, they directly confront questions of personal, national, cultural and racial heritage. The texts push the notion of searching for one’s roots to its farcical and subversive limits. As Rhys’s Anna Morgan questions the difference between

a ‘fair’ or ‘dark’ baboon (1990: 126) and Waugh’s Tony Last and his son joke about a rich society lady with a monkey’s tail (1951: 44), they make post-Darwinian puns on the parallel search for personal and human origins, ironically connecting the search for home to both the history of the British race and to the larger history of the human race. Searching for a stable point of anterior origin is shown to be a fruitless if not farcical task, and elevating the architectural site of the house into a sacred space similarly runs the risk of constructing home as a nostalgic and static dream. In To Be a Pilgrim, Tom Wilcher describes Tolbrook as ‘a holy place’, but it also reminds him of his family in the form of ‘a debt that was never acknowledged and can never be paid’ (Cary 1999: 38), thus suggesting that memories can be a burden as much as a benefit. In A Handful of Dust, Waugh expresses a certain degree of nostalgia for the days when the country house represented British values, but he also overtly satirises the risks of monumentalising the home. When Tony Last disappears, his beloved Hetton becomes rundown, but the family constructs in his honour ‘a plain monolith of local stone’ (Waugh 1951: 220). Unlike Hetton, this stone steadfastly resists all historical and social changes; because it remains cut-off from the outside world, it is ultimately the very antithesis of a home. One way in which these four novels acknowledge the mobility of homes is

by suggesting how decorations, furnishings, and various personal belongings transform neutral architectural sites into domestic spaces. In the same way as the sacred ideal of the home risks becoming a static and monolithic construction, so can these items become fetishised belongings, and, as Cary’s Tom Wilcher warns us, ‘to love anything or anybody is dangerous; but especially to love things’ (1999: 41). The novels consistently return to the themes of acquisition and display, showing how belongings can become sacred relics that tie characters to their homes. Tony Last regards the ‘brass bedsteads’ and ‘tapestry’ of Hetton with ‘constant delight and exultation’ (Waugh 1951: 15); Anna Morgan fixates on the way in which buying new things makes her room look ‘different, as if it had grown bigger’ (Rhys 1990: 29); Tom Wilcher idealises the ‘faded hangings’ and ‘worn carpet’ (Cary 1999: 38) in his mother’s old room; and, throughout The Years, Maggie and Sara Pargiter move an old crimson and gilt chair from house to house. In some respects, these various domestic belongings resemble the souvenirs of tourism; rather than evoking memories of a foreign space, they carry with them traces of the outside world, past times and family history. In On Longing, Susan Stewart declares, ‘The souvenir involves the displacement of attention into the past. The souvenir is not simply an object appearing out of context, an object from the past incongruously surviving in the present; rather, its function is to envelop the present within the past’ (1993: 151). Nonetheless, unlike the souvenir, domestic objects and furnishings perform a practical as well as decorative or emotional function: the ornate beds at Hetton are actually still slept on, and the Pargiter sisters continue to sit in the old chair from their childhood home when they move to their new flats. Even though

personal possessions always carry with them a trace of the past and of elsewhere, they do not necessarily attempt to fix either of these. The novels therefore consistently remind us of the narrow line between remembering and memorialising, homes and monuments. Whereas Rhys and Waugh depict characters in exile who cling to idealised

notions of home and elevate home furnishings to sacred objects, Cary’s and Woolf’s characters ultimately realise a more mobile sense of dwelling. Tom Wilcher imagines both Tolbrook and the whole of England as a ship ‘afloat beneath [him … ] making the voyage of its history through a perpetual sea spring’ (Cary 1999: 148); the Pargiters envisage home in similarly mobile terms as a ‘caravan crossing the desert’ (Woolf 1998: 126). These novels about homes thus engage deeply with the ideology of nomadism. In A Thousand Plateaus (1987), Deleuze and Guattari construct the nomad as a kind of pure traveller. They argue that by privileging displacement and dispersal, the nomadic subject occupies a liberated and liberating space outside the rigid confines of modern Western society. For Caren Kaplan, however, Deleuze and Guattari’s theory itself implies a colonisation of nomadism, as it appropriates the actual nomad for the writers’ own theoretical territory. She writes, ‘deterritorialization is always reterritolialization, an increase of territory, an imperialization’ (1996: 89). Although nomadism can be liberating, even the most mobile of nomads can also be profoundly attached to his or her surroundings, for ships, caravans and tents all embody domestic spaces of sorts. Indeed, Benjamin’s example of the ‘original form of all dwelling’ is the ‘shell’ which evokes the nomadism of the snail who ‘carries his home on his back’ (1999: 220). Kaplan suggests that in fact ‘the nomad can be seen to be the one who “does not move” in that the nomad’s movements cannot be tracked or linked to a starting or end point’ (1996: 89). Rather than seeing the nomad in terms of the traditionally linear trajectory of the journey narrative, we should perhaps consider an alternative version of nomadology that recognises the reciprocal relationship between travel and dwelling. For the study of travel and dwelling in the late modernist novel, both Jed Esty’s notion of a pure and insular Englishness and Deleuze and Guattari’s celebration of liberating nomadism have their limitations. In each of the novels considered in this chapter, an engagement with the idea of home does not necessarily become a narrow or inward-looking project, while the experience of displacement is not always a pure or liberating rejection of the constraints of home and history. In ‘Travelling Cultures’, James Clifford insists upon the inherent mobility

of even ‘native’ culture, and his work provides a valuable starting point for re-examining the ideology of home in the literature of travel. By discussing ‘specific histories, tactics, everyday practices of dwelling and traveling: traveling-in-dwelling, dwelling-in-traveling’ (Clifford 1992: 108, emphasis in original), Clifford shows how dwelling and travelling are always interconnected aspects of everyday life both at home and abroad. He considers the ways in

which people and cultural artefacts constantly travel across and between cultures. In an effort to emphasise cultural borders and places of crossing, Clifford insists on using the word ‘travel’, rather than ‘displacement’ or ‘nomadism’. However, he also briefly notes that ‘pilgrimage seems [an] interesting composite term to work with’ (Clifford 1992: 110). Clifford’s brief but revealing validation of the term ‘pilgrimage’ as a metaphor for movement initially seems rather surprising given that the trope of pilgrimage seems to be dependent on the opposition between dwelling and travel. A pilgrimage is, as Alan Morinis suggests, ‘woven out of the structural opposition of stasis movement’ (1992: 16). Yet it is this very insistence upon the dynamic and reciprocal relationship between dwelling and travel that makes ‘pilgrimage’ such a rich term to work with. Throughout this book, I have emphasised how modernist travel fiction complicates the binary opposition between the home and the journey; we have seen the ways in which various kinds of sacred journey offer not only different models for travel but also various new perspectives on home. Rather than eliding the distinctions between dwelling and travel, localism and cosmopolitanism, the trope of pilgrimage continually negotiates between these apparent opposites: in a pilgrimage, the journey abroad always entails a reconfiguration of the notion of home. Furthermore, a pilgrimage emphasises the places of crossing and processes of travelling just as much if not more as the beginning and end points of the journey. Even as Voyage in the Dark, A Handful of Dust, To Be a Pilgrim and The

Years explore their characters’ construction of home as a sacred space, they retain the interest in the sacred journey that we have seen in so many other modernist writers. In these novels, the pilgrimage can primarily be defined as a metaphorical or imaginary one; that is to say, the trope of pilgrimage is not only reflected in the actual experience of travel but also understood in a broader sense as the journey of life itself. In Sacred Journeys, Morinis assigns a special category to the metaphorical or allegorical pilgrimage. He defines this as an inner, spiritual journey, wherein the pilgrim ‘seeks out a place not located in the geographical sphere’ (1992: 4). While Morinis tends to view pilgrimage, in all its forms, as a ‘limited break’ (1992: 19) from the routines of real life, other theories question the division between life as a whole and the experience of pilgrimage. Philip Edwards draws attention to the ‘fundamental metaphor of Christian life as a pilgrimage’ and explores the historical understanding of a ‘life-pilgrimage’ that posits all individuals as ‘spiritual travellers to a heavenly destination’ that persisted from early Christian to modern times (2005: 1, 7). In Pilgrimage in Medieval Literature, 700-1500, Dee Dyas suggests that ‘the primary meaning of pilgrimage within Christian thought is concerned with the journey of individual believers through an alien world to the homeland of heaven’ (2001: 247). Indeed, as Edwards explains in his discussion of Dyas’s work, physical journeys to a sacred space can be understand as metaphors, or, to use Dyas’s words, ‘miniature version[s]’ (2001: 246), of this larger, eternal journey (Edwards

2005: 8-9). All of these definitions of allegorical, metaphorical or life-pilgrimage suggest that the sacred journey is always, sometimes only in part and sometimes predominantly, an imaginative act that requires the pilgrim to negotiate alternative ways of conceiving of the spaces of both dwelling and travel. The works considered in this chapter constitute examples of what I define

as the imaginary pilgrimage; they depict travelling characters who envision their entire lives as a journey towards some sacred goal. While it might seem that to define these novels as fictional examples of pilgrimage pushes the term to its metaphorical limits, none of the writers utterly abandons more traditional understandings of pilgrimage nor do they turn completely away from overtly spiritual paradigms; indeed, religious and mystical references permeate each of the novels. A Handful of Dust and Voyage in the Dark can be understood in the context of their authors’ engagement with Catholicism. Evelyn Waugh wrote A Handful of Dust shortly after his conversion to Catholicism in 1930, and he defended the book as an expression of his views as a Catholic writer after a negative review in The Tablet.3 A Handful of Dust offers no straightforward or simplistic religion vision, but Waugh at least invites us to read Tony Last’s literal exile from Englishness allegorically as a metaphor for modern England’s exile from spiritual values. According to David Wykes, Waugh believed ‘that Roman Catholicism is the truly English religion and that the Protestant Tudors were the first step in the direction of all that was hateful about modern England’ (1999: 112). Jean Rhys was raised in the Church of England but educated at a Catholic Convent in Dominica. In Smile Please, Rhys recalls a ‘certain prejudice against Catholicism among the white people’ and affirms that ‘most of the girls at the convent were coloured’ (1979: 79). While Waugh connected Catholicism with Englishness, Rhys saw Catholicism as less nationally and racially divisive than Anglicanism and looked to it for the ‘possibility of a dialogue between the African and European worlds’ (Olmos and ParavisiniGebert 1997: 219). Rhys’s understanding of organised religion was closely bound up with social, political and ethical concerns. Like A Handful of Dust, The Voyage Out suggests that modern England is spiritually bankrupt, but rather than harking back to a lost religion, Rhys suggests that this is at least in part due to the fact that ‘Christianity had clearly supported slavery’ (Savory 1998: 110). To Be a Pilgrim and The Years engage with non-denominational spiritual

models. Growing up Protestant in Ireland and self-identifying as agnostic and Anglo-Irish, Joyce Cary, like Rhys, was alert to the connections among religion, colonialism and violence. In his non-fiction writings, Cary explicitly defines denominational religion as a political institution: ‘religion is full of aesthetic feeling and political action’, he writes, continuing ‘politics uses aesthetic and religious appeal’ (1976: 121). Oddvar Holmesland suggests that Cary’s work espouses a ‘non-conformist faith that the divine experience in life is dependent on the individual mind’ (1991: 258), and this is

commensurate with my view that To Be a Pilgrim explores Tom Wilcher’s individual spiritual development throughout his life. Virginia Woolf’s religious scepticism has been well established elsewhere in this book, but critics such as Jane Marcus (1983) suggest that her later writing embraces a sense of mysticism that offers both a way of embracing spirituality that avoids the politics of religion and a way of reaching out to non-Western faiths. This interest in cross-cultural spiritual models, which connects Woolf to Rhys in interesting ways, is perhaps exemplified in The Years by the Indian in the pink turban who appears at the party towards the end of the novel. This chapter begins with an analysis of Rhys’s and Waugh’s novels and

then proceeds to a discussion of Cary’s and Woolf’s works. The order I follow is roughly chronological; it also moves from the more overtly religious novels to the less obviously spiritual ones, the former providing a framework with which to explore the implicit spirituality of the latter as well as a way to trace the permutations of the imaginary pilgrimage in late modernist fiction. My structure also pairs Voyage in the Dark with A Handful of Dust and To Be a Pilgrim with The Years. These two sets of novels are, at first glance, strange bedfellows and are certainly not commonly considered in relation to one another. Nonetheless, I suggest that reading Rhys alongside Waugh provides new insight into each text’s rewriting of the imperial journey; in similar fashion, reading Cary alongside Woolf offers a fresh approach to considering the depictions of home in both works. By turning the home into a sacred space that must be travelled to and

rediscovered, and positing pilgrimage as a primarily imaginative experience, these novels reconfigure the notion of the sacred journey, corroborating Belden Lane’s sense that ‘there is a dimension of pilgrimage to every experience of leaving the house one has known’ (2004: 133). In Cary’s To Be a Pilgrim, the narrator and homebody, Tom Wilcher, comes to realise that life itself is a never-ending pilgrimage, a continual and unstoppable journey. He declares that

We are the pilgrims who must sleep every night beneath a new sky, for either we go forward to the new camp or the whirling earth carries us backwards to one behind. There is no choice but to move, forwards or backwards. Forward to the clean hut, or backward to the old camp.