Intermodern Travel: J.B. Priestley’s English and American Journeys in Intermodernism: Literary Culture in Interwar and Wartime Britain


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After working in the Hollywood studios during the 1930s, writers like J.B. Priestly looked back to England for cultural origins that might resist the modern forces of American capitalism and popular culture. Most, as writers of satires and social comedies, doubted that they would find them, and their comedies often reveal an ambivalence about both American culture and the attempts to reclaim a traditional English one. However, Priestly, who resisted the “astonishing unreality of Hollywood,” felt that post-imperial England might offer a modern national identity able to resist the transnationalism of global capitalism, suggesting an idea of Englishness based on cultural traditions rather than imperial power. This is most evident in his BBC radio broadcasts during the forties that embodied “the voice of the common people,” but his travel narratives: English Journey and Midnight on the Desert, also reveal his understanding of the globalizing power of American popular culture and how this power will reshape traditional ideas of Englishness.


Arts and Humanities

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