Refugee Domesticity in Martha Gellhorn’s World War II Fiction

Allison Nick, University of Mississippi
Vol. 42, No. 1 (Spring 2023), 93-113

Martha Gellhorn’s career as a foreign correspondent was defined by a commitment to reporting the effects of total war on everyday people. This article traces the feminist and political ramifications of Gellhorn’s human interest perspective in her fictional writing, particularly her novel about Czechoslovakia, A Stricken Field (1940), and her short story about Corsica, “Luigi’s House” (1941). Gellhorn’s mid-century modernist writing unites a tradition of aesthetic experimentation with concerns about the state of democracy, the positioning of nationality, and the resulting crises of human rights and citizenship. Within the specific historical context of the mid- century period when the divide between home front and warfront ceased to exist and the connection between home and nation was ruptured, Gellhorn raises the private space of the home to the level of public, political importance where the most basic human rights are defended and safeguarded. By reading A Stricken Field and “Luigi’s House” through the combined lens of refugee studies and feminist approaches to domesticity, this article investigates how Gellhorn reconfigures the home as a radical site of resistance, examines the role of women in community and national belonging, and critiques democratic nations like the United States and Britain for their own histories of isolationism and occupation.

Mary Wollstonecraft Sojourner Truth Margaret Atwood Abigail Adams Amy Tan H.D. Simone de Beauvoir Zora Neale Hurston Frances Burney Virginia Woolf

"The white saxifrage with the indented leafe is moste commended for the breakinge of the Stone."

— Turner, Herbal, III, 68 [1568]