"That inexplicably alarming figure": Fascism, Disorder and Modernity in Storm Jameson's The Mirror in Darkness

Jake O'Leary

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paper


Like many modernist texts, Storm Jameson’s trilogy of novels, The Mirror in Darkness (1934-36), is concerned with modernity’s disorder. Set between the 1918 Armistice and 1926 General Strike, its many themes include London’s de-individualising effects, the First World War’s destruction of traditional values, and anxiety about the rise of mass-market publishing and cultural degradation.

However, Mirror’s most acute moments of disorder centre on fascism. This paper argues that fascism creates temporal, affective, social and physical disorder in the text, interrupting the lives of its characters as they struggle for meaning, stability and progression. By using her fascist characters to create heightened disorder, Jameson drew attention to the central role played by the political in the wider disorder of modernity.

I also argue that fascism’s role in Mirror troubles High Modernism’s privileged claim to representation of modernity’s disorder. For Jameson, representations of the city and mass culture demanded close engagement with 1920s British politics. Asked his opinion of The Waste Land, one of Jameson’s characters replies, ‘[Eliot] doesn’t enjoy his Waste Land. He doesn’t hate it either. He has never lived there.’ By emphasising political developments underpinning her waste land, Jameson illuminated connections between aspects of modernity’s disorder, which might have been missed by more experimental writers.

By examining Jameson’s historically and politically informed representation of modernity, I attempt to offer a new perspective on our contemporary moment’s disorders and their relation to politics.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2019
EventBritish Association for Modernist Studies (BAMS) Conference: 'Troublesome Modernisms' - King's College London
Duration: 20 Jun 201922 Jun 2019


ConferenceBritish Association for Modernist Studies (BAMS) Conference
Internet address


  • Storm Jameson
  • fascism
  • Modernity
  • disorder
  • Modernism
  • The Mirror in Darkness


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