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Writing happiness: literature and contentment c.1900-1945

Martin, Kirsty

Authors

Kirsty Martin

Abstract

What is happiness? Can we measure it? How far does it depend on chance circumstances? How far is it something that we can create for ourselves? This talk will explore how literary texts offer answers to questions about well-being that continue to resonate today. In particular, it will investigate how writers during the first half of the twentieth century were preoccupied by creating contentment, often against a backdrop of public distress. In 1940, during an air raid on London, the novelist Virginia Woolf, lay awake considering what could be done to establish peace in the future. The answer, she wrote, was that 'We must make happiness'. This talk will explore how some of the greatest writers of the early twentieth century shaped their work around the possibility of 'making happiness'.

Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Institution Citation Martin, K. Writing happiness: literature and contentment c.1900-1945
Keywords Literature and Emotions, Tea-Time Talks, Happiness

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