Cross-colonial encounters and cultural contestation in Somerset Maugham's 'Rain'

Kuttainen, Victoria (2020) Cross-colonial encounters and cultural contestation in Somerset Maugham's 'Rain'. In: Ehland, Christoph, and Gohrisch, Jana, (eds.) The Imperial Middlebrow: cross-colonial encounters and expressions of power in middlebrow literature and culture, 1890-1940. Literary Modernism (7). Brill, Amsterdam, NDL, pp. 140-158.

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This chapter analyses Somerset Maugham’s most spectacular sensation – Sadie Thompson, within the context of Americanised, commercial mass culture as it expands across the Pacific in the 1920s. While acknowledging the complex colonial dynamics at stake in Somerset Maugham’s famous story “Rain” in which Sadie features, this chapter argues that Maugham knowingly deploys the colonial Pacific, and the female body, as sites of spectacle and projection. In this way, Maugham’s ironic narrative of the fast-talking, hooch-drinking, lipsticked American Modern Girl can be read as a commentary about the ways that her body becomes a site of contestation, as with those of others absorbed by the logic of the imperial project and commercial, touristic desire. Moreover, as Maugham’s understated ironic narrative style is subsumed by the growing commercial market for his works adapted to stage and screen, Maugham’s creation becomes increasingly caught between new regimes of judgment, in ways that cleverly parallel the transformation of his own literary reputation from “England’s playwright” to “commercial hack.”

Item ID: 55838
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-90-04-42656-6
Copyright Information: © Brill 2020. In accordance with the publisher's policies, the Author Accepted Manuscript of this publication is available Open Access from ResearchOnline@JCU.
Funders: Margaret and Colin Roderick
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2018 23:29
FoR Codes: 47 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 4705 Literary studies > 470507 Comparative and transnational literature @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950203 Languages and Literature @ 100%
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