In contrast to the texts of the previous chapter, ‘Adjusting’ examines the postwar imperative of normalisation and the business of imaginatively reconstructing society. Opening with a comparison of J. B. Priestley’s social realism and Charles Williams’ mysticism, the chapter explores fictions of demobilisation and attitudes towards the postwar world. Taking as a keynote the questions posed by the filmmaker Humphrey Jennings, consideration is given to issues of class, social justice and the figure of the child. How, ask writers such as Marghanita Laski, can a better world be built for the next generation? This mode of reconstructive writing debates the impetus behind the Labour election victory of 1945, and these preoccupations can also be traced in very different modes of theatrical practice in the postwar years. Dramatists, from Priestley, to Christopher Fry, to Terence Rattigan use history as a space through which to debate contemporary politics and the hopes and expectations of postwar society. The chapter ends with a return to crime fiction, which attempts a return to normality through social comedy and the restoration of the individual body to cultural centrality.
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