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Greece in British Women's Literary Imagination, 1913–2013


Edited By Eleni Papargyriou, Semele Assinder and David Holton

Greece in British Women’s Literary Imagination, 1913–2013 offers a comprehensive overview of British female writing on Greece in the twentieth century and beyond. Contributors cover a vast array of authors: Rose Macaulay, Jane Ellen Harrison, Virginia Woolf, Ann Quin, Dorothy Una Ratcliffe, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Pym, Olivia Manning, Mary Stewart, Victoria Hislop, Loretta Proctor and Sofka Zinovieff formed special ties with Greece and made it the focus of their literary imagination. Moving from Bloomsbury to Mills & Boon, the book offers insight into the ways romantic literature has shaped readers’ perceptions about Greece. Why have female authors of such diverse backgrounds and literary orientations been attracted by a country burdened by its past and troubled by its present? What aspects of the country do they choose to highlight? Are female perceptions of Greece different from male ones? The book examines these and many more exciting questions. Given its focus and diversity, it is addressed to audiences in English and Greek studies, Classical reception, European modernism, cultural studies and popular fiction, as well as to non-academic English-speaking readers who have an interest in Greece.

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1. Beginnings and Endings in Rose Macaulay’s The Empty Berth (Semele Assinder)


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1.  Beginnings and Endings in Rose Macaulay’s The Empty Berth


Rose Macaulay (1881–1958) is primarily remembered as a novelist, but to categorize her as a satirist would be to undervalue her skill as a travel writer. Her comedies of manners are set against backdrops of decay, destruction, and ruin, and this has prompted recent critics to address her writing in the context of World War II. Despite this difficulty in pigeonholing Macaulay’s work, the author’s life has attracted considerable attention: there are no fewer than three biographies in print, and recent interest has centered on the release of a new collection of letters, which were under embargo until 2012. Between the ages of six and thirteen, she spent her childhood in Italy before the family moved to Oxford in 1894. Macaulay later studied History at Somerville College, Oxford. The family home was subsequently in Great Shelford, a village some four miles outside Cambridge. Macaulay typically attracts attention nowadays because of the literary circles in which she mixed; Rupert Brooke was a childhood friend, and she became acquainted with Virginia Woolf later in London. It is because of this focus on Macaulay’s life that a Greek coincidence has surfaced. Her most recent biographer, Sarah LeFanu, writes:

In April 1912 [Rose and her father] went together on a cruise around the Greek islands […] The Hellenic cruise was a decidedly high-minded affair: other travellers included Jane Harrison the...

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