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World War II had a profound effect on British Literature. In the aftermath of the long war, which began in 1939 in Europe, writers began producing fiction that depicted a lone individual fighting to find peace and comfort in a world gone mad, a world whose values and traditions had been turned upside down. Relative truth replaced absolute truth, situational ethics replaced ethics, heroes became anti-heroes, technology was to be feared. Stream of consciousness writing became popular, the narrators were detached, unemotional, man was tossed to the winds and expected to sink or swim. If God existed, he didn’t care. Plus, the colonies were revolting and demanding independence. Out of this came the novels of E. M. Forster who depicted the cultural clash between the British and the Indians in A Passage to India, William Golding’s depressing tale of all-consuming evil in Lord of the Flies, George Orwell’s fearful depiction of a futuristic and paranoid world in 1984, Orwell’s condemnation of communism in Animal Farm.
A pretty hopeless situation, wouldn’t you say? Ah, but, fortunately we also had writers such as Evelyn Waugh, J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis who, with Waugh’s Brideshead Revisited, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy and Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series of allegories, gave us hope that with divine help, we could overcome the world because this world was not really home for mankind. These works had traditional heroes who overcame evil, right and wrong were clearly defined, the bad guys lost in the end.
In light of the above, if I had to choose one "mode" of British fiction writing after World War II, I would go with the allegory. Some of the allegories were scary and depressing, as I have noted, but the hopeful magical realism allegories were also products of this time period.
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