Reading Doris Lessing’s Short Story “England vs England” through the Lenses of Space, Trauma, and History




Space, trauma, literature, short story, war


Past armed conflicts and their aftermaths left everlasting traces hidden in the physical places as well as in the spaces generated by the survivors. The present article examines the treatment of traumatic spaces in the British author Doris Lessing’s short story “England vs England” (1963) set in the years following the end of the Second World War. Even though Lessing’s works have been studied from different perspectives–as the abundant scholarship shows–the poetics of space in her short stories set in European places other than London has not been widely analysed. This paper argues that the immediate past is present in Lessing’s literature embedded in the spaces where the characters lead their everyday lives. The primary corpus includes the story under analysis and is supported by studies by scholars who have extensively researched the subjects of space and trauma and of literary critics who have examined the use of spatiality in Lessing’s oeuvre. Analysing the traumatic spaces of post-war Europe in the narration, firstly, gives visibility to a narrative that seems to have been overlooked by the critics and, secondly, allows the study of its spatiality in its physical, psychological, and sociohistorical division. Scrutinising the physical places of the story and the atmosphere generated in them, I have found that they represent the trauma endured by the countless anonymous people who suffered the horrors of the wars and their devastating consequences and who have only been made visible by the author’s skilled pen. In so doing my contribution adds another perspective to approaching the study of Doris Lessing.


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How to Cite

Berio, Maria Eugenia. 2023. “Reading Doris Lessing’s Short Story ‘England Vs England’ through the Lenses of Space, Trauma, and History”. Alicante Journal of English Studies / Revista Alicantina De Estudios Ingleses, no. 38 (January):75-91.