Margery Palmer McCulloch

Edwin and Willa Muir in Prague: A Biographical Case-Study in Twentieth-Century Archival and Creative Writings

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Collaboration; Authoriality; Gender; Reception; Impersonality.

The article investigates questions raised by archival research in relation to documentary and fictionalised writings and assessments of writers and the events of their times. The investigation will be grounded in the correspondence, journals, and creative writing of the Scottish writers Edwin and Willa Muir, with particular consideration given to their residence in Prague immediately after the end of WWII. The examination of Willa Muir's personal journals of the time suggest how external tensions can transform daily reporting of events into creative texts in their own right; while her conscious attempt to convert such experiences into fictional narratives raises artistic questions of distance and impersonality. Edwin Muir's Prague poetry, when placed in the context of archival material, raises questions about the role of the poet and the interpretation and 'ownership' of poetry by critics and readers. In the context of official recording, examination of such personal archival material may suggest the capacity for formal historical records, by their omissions, to simplify or evade difficult truths.

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