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Perspectives of Four Women Writers on the Second World War

Gertrude Stein, Janet Flanner, Kay Boyle, and Rebecca West

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Zofia P. Lesinska

In their writings composed during the Second World War and the political turmoil of the 1930s in Europe, Gertrude Stein, Janet Flanner, Kay Boyle, and Rebecca West interrogated the limitations of political history with its exclusionary emphasis on diplomacy and military campaigns. All four women writers underscored the indivisibility of social, cultural, and political histories. In addition, prompted by their empathy with people in occupied countries, they narrated history from the standpoint of the non-victorious, a perspective that has rarely been articulated by American and British authors. The challenge that these authors posed to traditional notions of history anticipated insights expressed several decades after the war by social, feminist, and postcolonial historians.