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Modernist InformaticsLiterature, Information, and the State$
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James Purdon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190211691

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190211691.001.0001

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Information Blacked Out

Information Blacked Out

(p.153) 5. Information Blacked Out
Modernist Informatics

James Purdon

Oxford University Press

The final chapter turns to Elizabeth Bowen’s novel of the London Blitz, The Heat of the Day, and considers the suppression of information. The black-out, which began in 1939, came to mean not only the dimming of metropolitan lights but also the censorship and wider government of information in wartime. Reading Bowen’s novel alongside several of her earlier short stories, as well as contemporary information posters and newspapers, the chapter investigates the ways in which a “habit of guardedness” precipitates from a generalized atmosphere of suspicion into the syntactic feints and second-guessings of Bowen’s fiction itself. By demonstrating the parallel projects of revelation and concealment in fiction and in the propaganda of the wartime state, this chapter argues for a link between the government information monopoly of the early 1940s and the increasingly complicated stylistic strategies of Bowen’s post-war work.

Keywords:   Elizabeth Bowen, The Heat of the Day, black-out, newspapers, propaganda

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