BAD BLOOD: CONTEMPORARY BRITISH NOVELS AND THE CYPRUS EMERGENCY release_6pjg36tlx5hzrhernpg73njzi4

by David Wills

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Abstract

The so-called Cyprus Emergency is largely overlooked during Britain's remembrance of its twentieth-century "small wars". In writing letters and memoirs, British soldiers and administrators of the time were defensive and bitter about a volatile and complex situation. Beginning with these views of participants, this article then focuses upon novelists' recent interest in the dramatic potential of this late-colonial strife, which incongruously took place on a sunny island now best known to readers as a pleasure destination. Five novels published between 2006 and 2014-some celebrated, others comparatively unknown-are discussed for their representation of the levels of violence and its justification by both sides, British squaddies and EOKA fighters. Engaging with academic definitions of "terrorism", this article concludes that at least some contemporary writers are now prepared to engage fully with the moral ambiguities present in late-1950s Cyprus. he Cyprus Emergency of the late 1950s threatened British power and prestige, and challenged what remained of its imperial respect. It was hardly the first time that Britain had faced insurrection from those it governed overseas. It was not even unique for British soldiers and administrators to encounter Greek-speaking people wielding guns and explosives against them: this had happened on the streets of Athens during the Civil War which followed Greece's release from Axis control. But Cyprus was a particular hurt, in that the British had felt embedded there, rather than invaders or strangers. And it was particularly unfortunate timing for questions about the island's stability to arise: due to Cold War nervousness, the potential loss of an overseas base strategically placed in the eastern Mediterranean seemed damaging. Writing at the time, Patrick Leigh Fermor was disturbed that "the Turks and the Greeks have become implacable enemies in a combustible area of great strategic importance" (Leigh Fermor 1955). In the first part of this paper, I give a very brief history of the British presence in and attitudes towards Cyprus in the 1950s. To do so, I utilise recent histories of the conflict, memoirs produced by British servicemen and administrators, and travel narratives. Most notable amongst the latter T
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