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Elizabeth BowenTheory, Thought and Things$
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Jessica Gildersleeve and Patricia Juliana Smith

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781474458641

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474458641.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 05 December 2021

How to Be Yourself – But Not Eccentric: Clothes, Style and Self in Bowen’s Short Fiction

How to Be Yourself – But Not Eccentric: Clothes, Style and Self in Bowen’s Short Fiction

Chapter:
(p.9) Chapter 1 How to Be Yourself – But Not Eccentric: Clothes, Style and Self in Bowen’s Short Fiction
Source:
(p.iii) Elizabeth Bowen
Author(s):

Aimee Gasston

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474458641.003.0002

If Bowen can be said to ‘indulge’ and ‘antagonize […] modernist theory and practice’ (Hunter 113), a key question is whether it was her extra-experimentalism that ensured her sidelining from the prototypical modernist canon. Critics such as Susan Osborn have described Bowen’s texts as being written in a ‘queer, opaque style’, one that ‘realizes itself not solely as a style to be looked through but as a style to be looked at as well’ (194). Following this line of thought, this chapter examines the stylised, patterned rendering of Bowen’s short fiction as a type of dress and consider its relationship with personal statement. It explores Bowen’s material style as ‘the dress of thought’ in opposition to what she saw as the common flaw of modern short fiction; ‘too much prose draped around an insufficiently vital feeling’, and consider the material detail of her stories not as frivolous frippery but as a key technical expression of her contingent view of the world (Hepburn 250).

Keywords:   Elizabeth Bowen, Modernism, short fiction, clothing, fashion, materiality

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