The Literary Cold War, 1945 to Vietnam

The Literary Cold War, 1945 to Vietnam

The Literary Cold War, 1945 to Vietnam

The Literary Cold War, 1945 to Vietnam

Synopsis

The Literary Cold War concentrates on authors who straddle the line between aesthetic project and political allegory, paying particular attention to the work of Vladimir Nabokov and Graham Greene. A paranoid plotline informs these and other Anglo-American texts, from Storm Jameson and John Dos Passos to Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes, and they commonly trade in the figure of the non-aligned neutral observer who finds himself caught up in sacrificial triangles. Following the lead of prominent historians of the period, this volume gives shape to a new field in literary studies& mdashthe literary Cold War.

Excerpt

In June 2004, I took my daughters down ‘Scotland’s Secret Bunker’ at Troywood, Anstruther, in Fife. Disguised as a Scottish farmhouse, and concealed underground at the end of a 150m tunnel, it was built in the 1950s as one of the regional government HQs for the Scottish secretary and his ministry in case of nuclear emergency. As we walked through the spooky bunkered spaces with their antique machinery of war communications, my young daughters shrank from the sinister horror of it all. They refused to leave the only sunny space down there, a concrete room given over to the anti-nuclear movement, with colourful Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) posters, rainbows and chains of friendly hands. Their reaction made me ashamed of the boyish thrill that had led me to lure my family down there in the first place, all the allure of wartime technology, the rockets and guns on display, the blastproof doors, the Ops room intricacies, the labyrinthine underworld with its concrete imagining of survival by the very few.

By strange coincidence, the week of our visit saw a spectral enactment of my own shame in the form of Ronald MacDonald, a homeless paranoid schizophrenic. On 8 June he used a JCB digger to crash into the bunker after midnight – he stayed down there, in what the papers were to call the Bunker Siege, for two whole days and nights. He dressed in the display uniforms, played with the weapons, caused £100,000 of damage before being coaxed out by police. Inspector Jenks of the local constabulary said ‘the complex nature of the building was creating operational issues for the police, who were playing . . .

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