Comedy and the Feminine Middlebrow Novel
Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941) and Elizabeth Taylor (1912-75) wrote witty and entertaining novels about the domestic lives of middle-class women. Widely read and enjoyed, their work was often dismissed as middlebrow. Brown argues that their skilful use of comedy and irony worked as devices to provide the receptive reader with a subversive commentary on the cruelties and disappointments of life. She traces the critical reception of their novels from the publication of von Arnim's Christopher and Columbus (1919) to Taylor's In a Summer Season (1961). In doing so, she demonstrates that hostility to the 'feminine middlebrow', often supposed to be at its height between the wars, in fact intensified after World War II.
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