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Reference: Laing, Kathryn., (1998). The sentinel and the evolution of Rebecca West's early writing, 1910-1922. DPhil. University of Oxford.Citable link to this page:


The sentinel and the evolution of Rebecca West's early writing, 1910-1922

Abstract: This thesis aims to re-examine the first decade of Rebecca West's literary and journalistic career,based on an analysis of a newly discovered novel West began writing in 1909/1910. TheSentinel, although incomplete and unrevised, is a key text to an understanding of West's earlyliterary and feminist apprenticeship, helping to enrich reconsiderations of West's oeuvre in recentcriticism. The recovery of West's writing into a female modernist canon provides a usefulstarting point, although the intertextual analysis of West's fiction and non-fiction during thisperiod will show that this kind of categorisation is an inadequate representation of the complexityof her work. The limited time-frame of this study, 1910 to 1922, magnifies West's writingprocesses to reveal her self-conscious negotiations as a woman writer with the ferment of ideasand changes arising during the pre-war and war period, particularly in relation to contemporaryfeminism and an emergent male modernist aesthetic.The first chapter is concerned with identifying, dating and examining the significance of TheSentinel as source material for West's later published fiction and non-fiction. Many of West'spervading interests are already evident in the novel, illustrating in retrospect how her writing wasshaped by differing literary contacts, feminist affiliations, the war and personal experience.Chapters Two and Three consider the impact on West's journalism and fiction of her associationswith the radical feminist journal, The Freewoman, and her introduction to avant-garde writers.West's unsuccessful attempt to rewrite The Sentinel as the novel, Adela, is discussed inrelation to selected feminist articles and the short story, Indissoluble Matrimony, illustratingher attempts to adapt her feminist interests to aesthetic ones. Chapter Four shows how the warprovided a cutting edge and a point of definition in West's writing at this time, both in herconsideration of the role of art and of the gendered structures of society. The influence of writerssuch as H.G. Wells, Ford Madox Ford and Henry James is discussed in relation to West'spreoccupation with the role of women during the Great War. This material provides an importantcontext for the analysis of The Return of the Soldier in Chapter Five. Chapter Six is a transitionalone, describing the effect of the war and its aftermath on contemporary feminist ideology, andevaluating Rebecca West's attempt to position herself as a writer and a feminist in relation tothese changes. Chapter Seven argues that The Judge (1922) offers a cumulative history ofWest's literary and feminist apprenticeship, at once completing the cycle begun with TheSentinel and initiating a different stage of writing for West during the twenties.

Type of Award:DPhil Level of Award:Doctoral Awarding Institution: University of Oxford Notes:This thesis was digitised thanks to the generosity of Dr Leonard Polonsky.

Bibliographic Details

Issue Date: 1998Identifiers

Urn: uuid:c622e025-601f-4138-86f6-d44bd2a8d62a

Source identifier: 602367652 Item Description

Type: Thesis;

Language: eng Subjects: Criticism and interpretation Tiny URL: td:602367652


Autor: Laing, Kathryn. - institutionUniversity of Oxford facultyFaculty of English Language and Literature - - - - Bibliographic Details



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