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British Women's Writing, 1930 to 1960Between the Waves$
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Sue Kennedy and Jane Thomas

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789621822

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789621822.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 22 October 2021

‘We Must Feed the Men’

‘We Must Feed the Men’

Pamela Hansford Johnson and the Negotiation of Postwar Guilt

(p.145) Chapter Eight ‘We Must Feed the Men’
British Women's Writing, 1930 to 1960

Gill Plain

Liverpool University Press

Gill Plain interrogates the trend towards domestic heteronormativity post World War Two in the light of the complex and profound disorientation of women’s post-war lives. She identifies a pervasive sense of personal, social and cultural loss, following the ‘smothering’ of wartime expectations, that often extended beyond the heterosexual matrix. Where ‘male’ plots reprogrammed masculine identity through purposeful activity beyond the home, the absence of plot in women’s fiction signals a lack of interest in the post-war rebuilding of the normative feminine psyche. The ‘resistant plotting’ of Pamela Hansford Johnson’s post-war trilogy, and its emphasis on the urgency of maternity, exhibits a turn toward the gothic. Male damage is offset by female guilt and the onset of a second childhood in her male characters, leading to a narrative of remasculinization. The largely absent figure of the child in post war narratives suggests a generation in mourning for its abruptly foreclosed childhood.

Keywords:   gender, heteronormativity, maternity, Pamela Hansford-Johnson, masculinity, gothic, post-war

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