Much has been written about British pluck during the Blitz. Though more than 30,000 civilians would die from German bombs, London thrust out its chin, undaunted. GNAWING TENSION AMID THE THREAT OF IMMINENT DEATH became a part of everyday life. For the writers chronicled in Lara Feigel’s ambitious fusion of criticism and biography, wartime London became a kind of playground for the senses, A CENTER OF CHARGED EMOTION, SOME OF IT ROMANTIC.
Feigel’s striking title comes from an essay by Graham Greene, who wrote of how “bomb-bursts moving nearer and then moving away, hold one like a love-charm.” For the ever-bored, death-obsessed Greene, the war offered an apocalyptic confirmation of his own morbid fantasies; war also gave the writer license to pursue several adulterous affairs.