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Portable ModernismsThe Art of Travelling Light$
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Emily Ridge

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781474419598

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474419598.001.0001

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‘No one is safe from the beggar’s pack’: Portability and Precarity

‘No one is safe from the beggar’s pack’: Portability and Precarity

(p.108) 3 ‘No one is safe from the beggar’s pack’: Portability and Precarity
Portable Modernisms

Emily Ridge

Edinburgh University Press

Chapter 3 traces the progressive alignment of portability with precarity from the late 1920s to the 1940s against a backdrop of political instability. The unfolding crisis of mass displacement across Europe served to reduce earlier literary fantasies of travelling light to nightmarish visions of involuntary exodus. These changing resonances are perceptible in the pointed obfuscations of tropes of tourism, adventure and dispossession in 1930s literature as well as the noticeable intrusion of the figure of the refugee on the artistic consciousness. If luggage becomes a figurative focal point in the works of political exiles and refugees, it is not in aid of a fantasy of creative renewal but of material, cultural and individual preservation. The chapter ends with an analysis of the fictional and non-fictional work of Elizabeth Bowen, with the inclusion of an extended close reading of The House in Paris as an updated version of Forster’s Howards End in a troubled 1930s context.

Keywords:   displacement, dispossession, Elizabeth Bowen, E.M. Forster, luggage, political exiles, precarity, refugees

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