Is the novel properly entitled ... ?
in Dissolute characters
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Elizabeth Bowen's novel had a background of sexual irregularity but its eventual concentration on character largely excludes issues of 'gender-identity', opting instead for more thoroughly ontological questions. One has no desire to repatriate Bowen, but rather to explore her distinctive insight into the processes of dissolution, reformation and further dissolution which contribute to the seemingly solid notion of character. Yet one may feel that something more thoroughly radical is at work in Bowen's fiction, and nowhere is a radical attitude towards character more evident than in The Heat of the Day. Published in February 1949, but written during the war, this novel constitutes not only an interrogation of fictional character as a realistic device but also an expose of Irish or English identity as a fiction. In the distinctly more threatening situation of 1941, Bowen's fiction quite naturally admits more of the invasionary danger facing England.

Dissolute characters

Irish literary history through Balzac, Sheridan Le Farm, Yeats and Bowen

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