The World My Wilderness (1950)

by Rose Macaulay

The bombed and wrecked London of The World My Wilderness is unrecognizable today. It is the wilderness where the 17-year-old protagonist, Barbary, feels most comfortable and spends her days in 1946. Her mother has sent Barbary to her ex-husband in London in the hope that he can civilize her. Barbary had been a junior member of the Resistance in France during World War II and has not been able to adjust to peacetime.

Barbary is a difficult project. When shes supposed to be in art classes, she is exploring bomb sites with her stepbrother, who joined her in the Resistance and is also now in London. The lawlessness of her war experience is what Barbary, a jungle creature, knows. She reverts to stealing and lying until an accident occurs and she must confront the wilderness within herself.

With the subject matter of wars emotional fallout, The World My Wilderness departed from Macaulays social satires. The World My Wilderness showed that new depths of pity had transmuted her satirical approach, the [British] Dictionary of National Biography said.


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