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Author: Gerry Smyth

Abstract

This essay offers an analysis of the classic children’s novel The Wind in the Willows (1908) by English writer Kenneth Grahame in two aspects of its engagement with domestic space. The first concerns the representation of house and home within the text itself, and discusses how this representation is linked both to Grahame’s biography and to the wider politico-cultural condition in which he was living and writing. The second concerns the ability ojfiction to assume a quasi-architectural presence in the perception of the reading subject, and examines the manner in which The Wind in the Willows became a sort of reading ‘home’ (with all the ambivalent values and associations that such a concept implies) for the author of the essay. The contribution concludes by suggesting a link between the image of home as represented in the text and that assumed by the text itself in the perception of the reading subject.

In: Our House
The Representation of Domestic Space in Modern Culture
Volume Editors: Gerry Smyth and Jo Croft
Space has emerged in recent years as a radical category in a range of related disciplines across the humanities. Of the many possible applications of this new interest, some of the most exciting and challenging have addressed the issue of domestic architecture and its function as a space for both the dramatisation and the negotiation of a cluster of highly salient issues concerning, amongst other things, belonging and exclusion, fear and desire, identity and difference.
Our House is a cross-disciplinary collection of essays taking as its focus both the prospect and the possibility of ‘the house’. This latter term is taken in its broadest possible resonance, encompassing everything from the great houses so beloved of nineteenth-century English novelists to the caravans and mobile homes of the latterday travelling community, and all points in between. The essays are written by a combination of established and emerging scholars, working in a variety of scholarly disciplines, including literary criticism, sociology, cultural studies, history, popular music, and architecture. No specific school or theory predominates, although the work of two key figures – Gaston Bachelard and Martin Heidegger – is engaged throughout.
This collection engages with a number of key issues raised by the increasingly troubled relationship between the cultural (built) and natural environments in the contemporary world.