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Rebecca West and the Double Agent

Rebecca West and the Double Agent This essay will explore the figure of the double agent as it tests notions of citizenship mid-century, specifically the clash or fusion of internationalist/nationalist definitions of citizen loyalty in the construction of the traitor ‘revolutionary’ citizen. It will be look at Kaminsky in Rebecca West's 1966 historical novel The Birds Fall Down as a late rewriting of the double agent, which West had theorized through her analyses of William Joyce (‘Lord Haw-Haw’)’s wartime propaganda and Stephen Ward in the Profumo Affair of the early 1960s. West's thinking draws on Hannah Arendt's writings on the double agent in Origins of Totalitarianism. The essay will explore both the political Cold War contexts that motivated West's return to Tsarist Russia and the double agent, and the feminist light cast on treacherous intelligence operations as forms of patriarchal control over women's bodies and minds. West is shown to be revising the double agent trope of spy fiction, reimagining the mole traitor as totalitarian fanatic revealing the extremes of hostile patriarchy and of male political desire. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modernist Cultures Edinburgh University Press

Rebecca West and the Double Agent

Modernist Cultures , Volume 16 (4): 19 – Nov 1, 2021

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
Copyright © Edinburgh University Press
ISSN
2041-1022
eISSN
1753-8629
DOI
10.3366/mod.2021.0348
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This essay will explore the figure of the double agent as it tests notions of citizenship mid-century, specifically the clash or fusion of internationalist/nationalist definitions of citizen loyalty in the construction of the traitor ‘revolutionary’ citizen. It will be look at Kaminsky in Rebecca West's 1966 historical novel The Birds Fall Down as a late rewriting of the double agent, which West had theorized through her analyses of William Joyce (‘Lord Haw-Haw’)’s wartime propaganda and Stephen Ward in the Profumo Affair of the early 1960s. West's thinking draws on Hannah Arendt's writings on the double agent in Origins of Totalitarianism. The essay will explore both the political Cold War contexts that motivated West's return to Tsarist Russia and the double agent, and the feminist light cast on treacherous intelligence operations as forms of patriarchal control over women's bodies and minds. West is shown to be revising the double agent trope of spy fiction, reimagining the mole traitor as totalitarian fanatic revealing the extremes of hostile patriarchy and of male political desire.

Journal

Modernist CulturesEdinburgh University Press

Published: Nov 1, 2021

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