Ian Whittington deposited ‘A Rather Ungoverned Bringing Up’: Postwar Resistance and Displacement in The World My Wilderness on Humanities Commons 5 years, 4 months ago
Rose Macaulay’s The World My Wilderness (1950) rewrites post-Second World War crises of displacement, child combat, and state re-integration through the genre of the domestic melodrama. Adolescent protagonists Barbary and Raoul move from France to London at the end of the war as both combatants and refugees, having spent the conflict aiding the Resistance. Written between the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1947) and the Declaration of the Rights of the Child (1959), the novel stages children’s wartime and postwar vulnerability as the product of an uncertain relation to the state: deprived political representation and disillusioned by their mother’s romance with a collaborator in Vichy France, the children cannot assimilate themselves to the emerging welfare state in Britain. Against this backdrop of familial estrangement, in which political dissimulation is second nature, the novel argues for the insufficiency of the interventionist state as a resolution of the traumas suffered by children in wartime.