Cold Comfort Farm, D. H. Lawrence, and English Literary Culture Between the Wars

Faye Hammill

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Stella Gibbons's Cold Comfort Farm (1932) has been an incredibly popular novel. Its most famous line, "I saw something nasty in the woodshed," has become a catchphrase, and the book has sold in large numbers since its first publication in 1932. It has been adapted as a stage play, a musical, a radio drama, and two films, thereby reaching a still larger audience. However, its status within the academically-defined literary canon is comparatively low. One full article on Cold Comfort Farm was published in 1978, and since then, only a few paragraphs of criticism have been devoted to the novel. Critics apparently do not consider Cold Comfort Farm to be properly "literary," and it is rarely mentioned in studies of the literature of the interwar years. This is curious because Cold Comfort Farm is an extremely sophisticated and intricate parody whose meaning is produced through its relationship with the literary culture of its day and with the work of such canonical authors as D. H. Lawrence, Thomas Hardy, and Emily Brönte. The novel's engagement with the gender issues of the 1930s also repays detailed examination.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)831-854
Number of pages23
JournalMFS Modern Fiction Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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