Ninety-Nine Novels: The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen
In 1984, Anthony Burgess published Ninety-Nine Novels, a selection of his favourite novels in English since 1939. The list is typically idiosyncratic, and shows the breadth of Burgess’s interest in fiction. This podcast, by the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, explores the novels on Burgess’s list with the help of writers, critics and other special guests.
In this episode, the Burgess Foundation’s Graham Foster learns about Elizabeth Bowen’s The Heat of the Day with writer and academic Jessica Gildersleeve.
Published in 1949, The Heat of the Day tells the story of Stella Rodney, a divorcee living in London in the dying days of the Blitz. When she is informed by a mysterious man called Harrison that her partner Robert is selling state secrets to the Nazis, she is cast in the role of unwilling spy.
Elizabeth Bowen was born in Dublin in 1899. She began her career as a writer in 1923 with Encounters, a book of short stories. Her novels include The Last September, The House in Paris and The Death of the Heart. During the war, she worked at the Ministry of Information, reporting on the opinions of Irish citizens about their nation’s neutrality. She died in 1973.
Jessica Gildersleeve is Associate Professor of English Literature at the University of Southern Queensland. Her books include two on Elizabeth Bowen: Elizabeth Bowen and the Writing of Trauma: The Ethics of Survival and Elizabeth Bowen: Theory, Thought, and Things. Her other work on women’s wartime writing in Britain and in Australia includes studies of Rosamond Lehmann, Rose Macaulay, Virginia Woolf, Jean Rhys, and Eleanor Dark. Her latest book is Screening the Gothic in Australia and New Zealand: Contemporary Antipodean Film and Television, is out now from Amsterdam University Press.
Books mentioned in this episode
By Elizabeth Bowen:
- To the North (1932)
- The Death of the Heart (1938)
- Bowen’s Court (1942)
- Seven Winters: Memories of a Dublin Childhood (1942)
- The Demon Lover and Other Stories (1945) [Now published in Collected Stories]
- ‘Notes on Writing a Novel’ in Collected Impressions (1950)
- And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie (1939)
- The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer (1948)
- Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (1966)
- The Shining by Stephen King (1977)
- Loaded by Christos Tsiolkas (1995)
- The Night Watch by Sarah Waters (2006)
In Series One of Ninety-Nine Novels, we learnt about authors including James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, Iris Murdoch, V.S. Naipaul and Alan Sillitoe, among others. These episodes are available at your favourite place to get podcasts.
You can join the conversation and tell us which 100th book you would add to Burgess’s list by using the hashtag #99Novels on Twitter.
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The theme music for the Ninety-Nine Novels podcast is Anthony Burgess’s Concerto for Flute, Strings and Piano in D Minor, performed by No Dice Collective.