Bowen's Court Questions and Answers
by Elizabeth Bowen

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How does the author portray nostalgia in Bowen's Court?

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Bowen’s Court is a memoir by Elizabeth Bowen which focuses on the house and surrounding land where she grew up, which shares its name with the title. Bowen’s Court is a country estate, thirteen miles from the nearest town.

Bowen focuses on the “the grand idea” which was prevalent in the lives of Anglo-Irish aristocratic families. This idea explains that life is a journey best enjoyed with the proper social graces applied to it. A life without these high-class elements is simply not a life worth living. This idea was embodied by Henry III, “the first Irish Bowen to come to bloom” and manifested in the estate he built, which would be passed down through the generations.

Fast forward to the twentieth century, where a generation who moved to cities and began to erode the clean lines separating classes, “the grand idea” eroded as well. Isolation proved a downfall as the estate’s location made it nearly impossible for Elizabeth and her parents to keep the property in functioning condition. The breakdown of the property and the changing ideals of this generation force Elizabeth to long for the old society which spurred “the grand idea” and to use the theme of nostalgia to compare her current living condition.

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