Cronin and the Chronotope: Place, Time and Pessimistic Individualism in The Citadel

Christopher Meredith


A.J. Cronin’s 1937 novel TheCitadel (and its 1938 film adaptation)was an immensely wide-reaching and influential fiction depicting a version ofindustrial south Wales to the world, popularly perceived as a radical attack onmedical practice in Britain. After a brief critical summary of the novel thisessay considers Cronin's representation of fictionalised place and historicalcontext, especially in the sections set in Wales, looking at the novel first ineach case and then laying some of the personal experience Cronin drew on andactual historical detail alongside it. By a close examination especially of thechronology of the novel as it matches and mismatches history it shows that thechronotopic structure of The Citadelis shaped to serve a fundamentally pessimistic and individualistic view ofhumanity largely at odds with any supposed radicalism.

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