Rumer Godden

International and Intermodern Storyteller

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  • Edited by Lucy Le-Guilcher, University of Cambridge, UK and Phyllis B. Lassner, Northwestern University, USA
  • From 1929 to 1997, Rumer Godden published more than 60 books, including novels, biographies, children's books, and poetry; this is the first collection devoted to this important transnational writer. Focusing on Godden's writing from the 1930s onward, the contributors uncover the breadth and variety of the literary landscape on display in works such as Black Narcissus, The Lady and the Unicorn, A Fugue in Time, and The River.

    Often drawing on her own experiences living in India and Britain, Godden establishes a diverse narrative topography that allows her to engage with issues related to her own uncertain position as an author representing such nomadic Others as gypsies, or taking up the displacements brought about by international conflict. Recognizing that studies of the transnational must consider the condition of enforced and elected exile within the changing political and cultural borders of postcolonial nations, the contributors position Godden with respect to different and overlapping fields of inquiry: modern literary history; colonial, postcolonial, and transnational studies; inter-media studies; and children's literature. Taken together, the essays in this volume demonstrate the richness and variety of Godden's writing and render the myriad ways in which Godden is an important critical presence in mid-twentieth-century fiction.

  • Contents: Introduction, Lucy Le-Guilcher and Phyllis Lassner; Part 1 Rumer Godden's India: The view from the middle: Godden and her literary landscape, Mary Grover; 'Far more remote than it actually is': Rumer Godden's Black Narcissus and 1930s mountain writing, Mark Rawlinson; In search of Rumer Godden's India, Gayathri Prabhu; Questions of 'mixed race' in The Lady and the Unicorn and The Peacock Spring, Elizabeth Maslen. Part 2 Godden and British Culture: An experiment with narrative? Rumer Godden's A Fugue in Time, Victoria Stewart; A child's perspective: the reconstruction of the domestic sphere in The Doll's House and Impunity Jane, Lucy Le-Guilcher; Imagining gypsies: growing up in Gypsy, Gypsy and The Diddakoi, Rod Mengham; China Court: Rumer Godden's epic of the English novel, Phyllis Lassner. Part 3 Sexuality and Longing: Childhood, longing, sexuality, violence and sacrifice in Rumer Godden's The River, An Episode of Sparrows, and The Greengage Summer, Philip Tew; Sweetness and darkness: realism in Rumer Godden's novels, Tessa Hadley. Part 4 Rumer Godden's Life and Career: Rumer Godden: a sense of performance and poetry, Anne Harvey; 'A born storyteller': clips from the interviews, Clare Jenkins; 'Sometimes': a daughter's reflections, Jane Murray Flutter; Bibliography; Index.

  • About the Editor: Lucy Le-Guilcher received her PhD from the University of Cambridge, where she wrote a thesis entitled Style and Women's Writing, 1940s and 1950s. In December 2007, she organized a centenary symposium on Rumer Godden, and has presented conference papers in Sydney and the UK. She is a regular reviewer for Women: A Cultural Review.

    Phyllis B. Lassner is Professor in the Crown Center for Jewish Studies, the Gender Studies, and Writing Programs at Northwestern University, USA. She is the author of two books on Elizabeth Bowen, British Women Writers of World War II, Colonial Strangers, Anglo-Jewish Women Writing the Holocaust, and many articles on women writers. She serves as Co-President of The Space Between Society: Literature and Culture 1914-1945.

  • Reviews: 'This is an extraordinarily distinguished collection that is attentive to a range of genres, including children's literature, poetry, fiction, and cinema. By focusing on an author whose positional complexity violates the simplistic categories that have divided one from the other, the editors fulfill their claim that this interdisciplinary volume contributes to the rewriting of the fields of colonial and postcolonial studies.'
    Margaret D. Stetz, University of Delaware, USA

    ‘This excellent collection of essays seeks to reappraise the extensive body of work of Rumer Godden (1907 -1998)… The essays clearly establish that Godden is an important writer who has been critically overlooked.’ Journal of Children’s Literature Studies

    'Rumer Godden: International and Intermodern Storyteller presents the twenty-first-century reader and scholar with a new, open-ended, and all-embracing critical lexicon that teaches one how to read this “intermodern” writer because her “corpus extends, merges, and even questions so many canonical boundaries”… Here indeed, is a new critical voice.’ Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature

    'Of interest and use to readers of Godden’s fictions, as well as those researching aspects of modern discourse, Le-Guilcher’s and Lassner’s volume offers a substantial effort to ensure Godden’s enduring popularity, whilst at the same time making a sustained case for a serious consideration of her works.' Notes and Queries

    'Rumer Godden: International and Intermodern Storyteller is essential reading for anyone researching developments in modern and contemporary realism, popular fiction, children’s literature and women’s writing. Moreover, it fully attests Godden’s value to colonial and post-colonial studies, as well as her importance to the burgeoning fields of transnationalism and nomadism. Rich and generative, a collection of this calibre will, it is to be hoped, encourage Godden’s more frequent appearance on university syllabuses and spur a very welcome and much overdue expansion in Godden scholarship.' Women: A Cultural Review

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