In November 1920, Bennett wrote to André Gide in response to Gide’s letter about The Old Wives’ Tale. In the course of this letter, Bennett refers to his ‘new manner’ of writing. Bennett never reveals what his ‘new manner’ entails; however, in a letter to Newman Flower (May 1917), Bennett states that he ‘ain’t going to write any more about the 5 Towns’. True to his projection, all of his subsequent novels are set wholly, or partially, in London, and so one can infer that Bennett’s ‘new manner’ marked a departure from the Potteries. However, Bennett also predicts that his ‘next novel’ (The Pretty Lady) ‘will startle the public’, and it is this portion of his letter to Flower, which I believe reveals his reasoning for the exchange of province for metropolis. The Pretty Lady (1918) heralds the fruition of Bennett as an engaged novelist, one with the intention of recording his thoughts or ‘sensations’ deriving from his observations of British society and its politics. It is this ‘new’ Bennett, and his ‘new’ socially-engaged fiction, which he anticipates will ‘startle’ the British public. My chief aim, therefore, is to relate Bennett’s formal techniques to their socio-political contexts (to connect his experimental manner of representing individual experience, external reality, and historical situation), and to demonstrate that these techniques mutually shape/inform one another. A sizable proportion of the criticism on Lord Raingo (1926) has been formulated by means of an author-centred analysis. I intend to argue that Lord Raingo is an overtly modernist text which focuses upon the significance of the passage of time in terms of the individual, society and that of the wider world, and that the central theme is that of personal politics, with regards to finding meaning and purpose in a chaotic world.
Long abstract of your presentation
Main author information