Novel geographies of the Great North Road in C. E. Montague’s ‘Right Off the Map’ (1927) and Elizabeth Bowen’s ‘To the North’ (1932)

mental map of the Great North Road, included by Peter Gould and Rodney White in 'Mental Maps' (1974)

mental map of the Great North Road, included by Peter Gould and Rodney White in 'Mental Maps' (1974)

This study analyses the link between the constructional changes to the Great North Road in 1927 (often described as the year the road overtook the railway) and the mental geographies of Britain reflected in C. E.Montague’s tale of a rogue troop of soldiers travelling a ridge in the fantastic country of Ria in Right Off The Map (1927), and Elizabeth Bowen’s highway-fuelled To the North (1932). Please email amycutler1985(at)gmail.com if you would like a copy of the paper.

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~ by amycutler on September 15, 2009.

5 Responses to “Novel geographies of the Great North Road in C. E. Montague’s ‘Right Off the Map’ (1927) and Elizabeth Bowen’s ‘To the North’ (1932)”

  1. I heard and enjoyed this paper at the Utopian Spaces conference, and it inspired me to read ‘Right off the Map’, which I heartily recommend to anyone else.
    You treat it as a book of the twenties, but did you know that according to Oliver Elton’s ‘C.E.Montague: A Memoir’ it began life as a play, written in 1902 and never performed? The play’s manuscript is lost, according to Elton, writing in 1929, just after Montague’s death.
    One can see the theatrical origins in the early scenes in Ria (lots of characters making entries and exits in one location);. But then the action widens out, and the geographical bits that you are most interested in were pretty certainly additions of the twenties, as are the satirical passages about war propaganda and suchlike – so your interpretation of it as a twenties work is valid.
    Thanks for pointing me in the book’s direction.

    • Hi George, thanks so much for your response. I’ll definitely take a look at the memoir: I know very little about C. E. Montague as it’s not precisely my period. Nicholas Parker, who was presenting in your panel in the morning, also suggested I take a look at Montague’s travel writing collected in ‘The Right Place’ (1924), apparently including one suggestive essay on British landscape. The two of you are the only people I’ve met (aside from me) who’ve talked about C. E. Montague, so I feel pretty lucky to have run into you!

  2. […] C.E.Montague. In particular, there was a paper on Montague’s 1927 novel, Right Off the Map, by Amy Cutler, who has posted it in full on her very promising new blog. This sparked my interest greatly, so I’ve been reading the book. I’d heard of Right Off the […]

  3. Another noted fan of Montague’s work was F. Spencer Chapman D.S.O. & bar, travel/expedition/war writer who, within his autobiographical account of his time during WWII behind Japanese lines in Malaya(‘The Jungle is neutral’ 1949), cites Montague’s ‘The Right Place’ as his ‘particular vade mecum’, and the book he and his small group of men passed around, reading aloud before they slept. Having read his amazing account of this ‘first’; Europeans left behind to carry out ‘Jungle warfare’, perhaps “Off the map” may have been more apposite!

  4. Apologies! I DID mean “Right off the map” !

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