Cultural Encounters: European Travel Writing in the 1930s

Cultural Encounters: European Travel Writing in the 1930s

Cultural Encounters: European Travel Writing in the 1930s

Cultural Encounters: European Travel Writing in the 1930s

Synopsis

The 1930s were one of the most important decades in defining the history of the twentieth century. It saw the rise of right-wing nationalism, the challenge to established democracies and the full force of imperialist aggression. Cultural Encounters makes an important contribution to our understanding of the ideological and cultural forces which were active in defining notions of national identity in the 1930s. By examining the work of writers and journalists from a range of European countries who used the medium of travel writing to articulate perceptions of their own and other cultures, the book gives a comprehensive account of the complex intellectual climate of the 1930s.

Charles Burdett is lecturer in Italian at the University of Bristol and co-editor of European Memories of the Second World War (1999). He is currently working on representations of Africa in fascist Italy. Derek Duncan is lecturer in Italian at the University of Bristol. He has published extensively on twentieth century Italian literature with particular reference to questions of gender and sexuality.

Excerpt

Charles Burdett and Derek Duncan

The 1930s were one of the most important periods in defining the history of the twentieth century. The decade opened in the wake of the Wall Street Crash, an event that shook U.S. society to its foundations but that was to be felt in all parts of the global economy. It was an event that altered the relationship between national governments and that was to spawn a series of political solutions ranging from the imaginative to the malevolent. In the United States itself, Harding's efforts to relieve mass unemployment and to counter the tremendous slump in production were to prove, for the most part, ineffectual. The radical programme of state intervention that Roosevelt sponsored from his inauguration in 1933, through the agencies and public works programmes of the New Deal, brought relief to large sections of the urban and rural population of the U.S. But not all the schemes that the New Deal envisaged were successfully planned and carried through: the workings of a number of agencies were fiercely criticized by forces on the right and were eventually declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. For all his success in inspiring confidence and a renewed sense of purpose in the nation, Roosevelt was never able to banish the spectre of economic crisis that had arisen suddenly at the end of the 1920s. Britain and France both felt the full severity of the Depression. In Britain, the extent of the crisis broke McDonald's Labour government and ushered in a period of cross-party consensus. Without adopting radical solutions to deal with the enormity of the problems faced by industry, the National Government managed to introduce legislation that had some effect in alleviating the rigours of the Depression and to stave off social unrest. France proved less able to contend with the huge pressures that resulted from the downturn in world trade. In the 1930s a series of governments of both the left and right . . .

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