Reconsidering Elizabeth Bowen’s Shorter Fiction: Dead Reckoning focuses on Elizabeth Bowen's representations of violence against the self and others. Heather Levy examines the complicity of landscape and the implications of mayhem, murder, and suicide in The Collected Stories of Elizabeth Bowen (2006) edited by Angus Wilson and The Bazaar and Other Stories (2008) edited by Alan Hepburn. It introduces five previously unpublished short story fragments and two nearly complete stories from The Elizabeth Bowen Collection at The Harry Ransom Research Center. Levy argues that Bowen's shorter fiction is a quixotic celebration of moral transgression, crime without punishment, and suicide without mourners. Bowen's compassionate response to offenders and violence anticipated the Perpetrator Trauma movement in the United States. Her innovations with the freedom of the short story produced an uncanny narration of violence. This book integrates the entirety of the scholarship on Bowen's short stories in a clear and original manner and offers a synthetic and compelling excavation of Bowen's unpublished short stories.
Heather Levy is professor of English literature at Western Connecticut State University.
Introduction: Curating Violence and Perpetrator Trauma
Chapter 1 Ameliorative Suicide
Chapter 2 Redemptive Murder
Chapter 3 Inconclusive Mayhem
Conclusion: Implicating Readers
Appendix: Harry Ransom Selections
Before Martin McDonagh’s Beauty Queen of Leenane, which involved implements of fire, Bowen wrote ghost stories, novels with secrets, 'life with the lid on and what happens when the lid comes off.' This book shows that in Bowen's short stories the lid comes off, and the dark violence of humanity roars underneath.... This book tracks through the violence in Bowen’s short fiction, much of it eerie and aimed at women. Bowen lived in a world controlled by men. In spite of her affairs with men and women, her stories uncover the violence in the patriarchy. Recommended.
This fascinating analysis of violence in Elizabeth Bowen’s shorter fiction reveals her focus on the suffering of perpetrators, which implicates readers in suicide, murder and mayhem. With precision, clarity and wit, Levy demonstrates how Bowen’s narrative strategies keep the gore offstage while scrutinizing the motives of those who commit violence. The volume includes a special pleasure for Bowen readers—seven story fragments published for the first time.