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Journal of English Philology

Ed. by Kornexl, Lucia / Lenker, Ursula / Middeke, Martin / Rippl, Gabriele / Stein, Daniel Thomas

CiteScore 2018: 0.22

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.130
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.336

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Volume 136, Issue 3


Art, Nature and the Negotiation of Memory in J. L. Carr’s A Month in the Country

María Jesús Martínez-Alfaro
Published Online: 2018-09-13 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ang-2018-0046


The present article analyses J. L. Carr’s novel A Month in the Country (1980) in the light of an approach to traumatic experience as paradoxically relating destructiveness and survival. This view of trauma – already present in Freud and further elaborated in more recent theories like Cathy Caruth’s – accentuates the possibility of constructing a new story that bears witness not only to the shattering effects of trauma but also to a departure from it. From this perspective, the author deals first with the role of art as a survival aid to the novel’s traumatised protagonist, explaining how his restoration of a medieval mural helps him work through his troubled memories of the Great War. Repetitions and doublings link the two central characters, their discoveries and their recovery, creating layers of meaning that, it is argued, call for a ‘palimpsestuous’ reading, in Sarah Dillon’s sense of the term. The author then focuses on the regenerative power of nature in the novel, relating its use of the pastoral to the frequent recourse to it in Great War literature, and interpreting Carr’s text in line with critical approaches that reject escapism as the main trait of the pastoral mode. Finally, the protagonist’s retrospective narration is discussed as a creative act that is also an aid to the survival of the self.1

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About the article

Published Online: 2018-09-13

Published in Print: 2018-09-06

Citation Information: Anglia, Volume 136, Issue 3, Pages 449–467, ISSN (Online) 1865-8938, ISSN (Print) 0340-5222, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ang-2018-0046.

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