"Is it time we move through or space?": literary anachronism and anachorism in the novels of Elizabeth Taylor

Freeborn, Diane (2014) "Is it time we move through or space?": literary anachronism and anachorism in the novels of Elizabeth Taylor. Doctoral thesis, University of East Anglia.

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This thesis examines Elizabeth Taylor’s twelve novels through the lens of the interlinked concepts, anachronism and anachorism, an approach that enables an analysis of the structural, thematic and stylistic engagements with time and place in her fiction. Blending theme with chronology, the study attaches a particular topic to each decade between the 1940s and the 1970s: war and its aftermath are considered in Taylor’s 1940s novels; the servant-figure in those of the 1950s; feminine constructs in the 1960s; and death and dying in the 1970s. The study argues that while Taylor’s texts look back to previous literary periods and, increasingly, to earlier parts of the century, they simultaneously speak to their particular historical moment.

The thesis contributes to recent scholarship that has sought to reappraise the fiction of neglected mid-twentieth-century writers, uncovering an altogether more innovative and complex fictive form than previously recognised. Taylor’s oeuvre is positioned firmly within this more nuanced and complicated literary landscape. Anachronism and anachorism frame and shape an analysis of those aspects within the structure and content of Taylor’s novels that are unexpected, out of place even, within the genre of domestic fiction. To facilitate the analysis, the study introduces the metaphor of ‘the scalpel within the kid glove’, which points both to the way Taylor writes and to a way of reading her. The distinct contribution the thesis makes to current scholarship is to demonstrate that Taylor’s novels are altogether more strange, more angry, more political and more philosophical than generally acknowledged. They destabilise reader expectation even as they disrupt the conventions of realist fiction. Taylor emerges as an ‘after-modernist’, a classification that exhibits both temporal and aesthetic qualities, signalling a writer engaged with the after-effects of war, while at the same time in conversation with the legacy of modernist poetics.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Literature and Creative Writing
Depositing User: Users 5605 not found.
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2014 09:29
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2014 09:29
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/49756

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