Writing disenchantment

British First World War prose, 1914–30

By Andrew Frayn

Writing disenchantment


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-8922-0
  • Pages: 272
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £75.00
  • Published Date: September 2014
  • BIC Category: LITERARY CRITICISM / European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Literature & literary studies / Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers, Literature, United Kingdom, Great Britain, Literature: history & criticism, Literary studies: fiction, novelists & prose writers, Ireland


It has become axiomatic that First World War literature was disenchanted, or disillusioned, and returning combatants were unable to process or communicate that experience. In Writing disenchantment, Andrew Frayn argues that this was not just about the war: non-combatants were just as disenchanted as those who fought, and writers such as D. H. Lawrence and Virginia Woolf produced some of the sharpest criticisms. Its language already existed in contemporary sociological and historical accounts of the problems of mass culture and the modern city, whose structures contained the conflict and were strengthened during it.

Archival material, sales data and reviews are used to chart disenchantment in a wide range of early twentieth-century war literature from novels about fears of invasion and pacifism, through the modernist novels of the 1920s to its dominance in the War Books Boom of 1928-30. This book will appeal to scholars and students of English literature, social and cultural history, and gender studies.


'A nuanced, sophisticated book that advances its insights through careful readings of works both iconic and very nearly forgotten. The pairing of high modernist with mass-cultural novels is ingenious, and reveals the overarching coherence of British culture in the Great War.'
Stephen Ross, University of Victoria


Andrew Frayn has taught English Literature at the universities of Manchester, Salford and Central Lancashire and De Montfort University


1. Patriotism, propaganda and pacifism, 1914-18
2. Hope to Disenchantment, 1919-22
3. Modernism, conflict and the Home Front, 1922-27
4. Sagas and series, 1924-28
5. Popular disenchantment: the war books boom, 1928-30

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