Plenary session: Lazaro: The Culture of Migration in British Modernist Fiction

The Culture of Migration in British Modernist Fiction
Alberto Lázaro
University of Alcalá

 Nowadays, it is common to find news headlines dealing with refugee crises, migrant camps, border controls and asylum seekers, as a consequence of armed conflict or economic distress. Similarly, if we look at contemporary British fiction, issues of migration, exile and diaspora have been explored by a wide range of postcolonial writers whose work has attracted and merited attention since the end of the Second World War. Critics are well aware of the existence of a large corpus of writings by recent successful novelists, such as V. S. Naipaul, Caryl Phillips, Hanif Kureishi, Timothy Mo, Monica Ali and many others from the Indian diaspora, that are concerned with the anxieties of displaced existence. However, before this boom of Caribbean and Asian novels of migration, during the first half of the twentieth century, the leading figures of the Modernist movement also dealt with experiences of exile, alienation, culture shock, language barriers, segregation, integration and displacement, whether forced or self-imposed. Some of these writers were also migrants themselves. This lecture will examine a selection of texts by authors such as Joseph Conrad, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, Katherine Mansfield, James Joyce and Jean Rhys, among others, to show how they address the nature of migration long before the postcolonial era.