John Buchan’s Amicable Anti-Modernism by Nathan Waddell, University of Birmingham, UK


This article considers the novelist John Buchan’s changing responses to literary modern-ism in the inter-war period. It argues that although Buchan has generally been taken as a straightforward opponent of modernist writing, careful study of his oeuvre dis-closes a more complex scenario in which an antagonism to certain modernist “excesses” is mixed with a qualified attraction to particular modernist innovations. The article’s central assumption is that a key part of Buchan’s worth to the New Modernist Studies lies in his querying — in novelistic as well as in essayistic forms — of the vocabularies now used to elaborate such literary-historical oppositions as high vs. low, for instance, or old vs. new. The article breaks new ground by moving beyond familiar Buchan texts — e.g. The Thirty-Nine Steps (1915) — into the less appreciated territory of his novel Huntingtower (1922), his literary criticism and his cultural commentaries. 

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