Mountains, manliness and post-war recovery: C.E. Montague's 'Action'

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Cultural historians have vigorously debated the impact of the First World War in shaping male subjectivities and (heroic) masculinities. Victimhood, emotional survival and disablement have featured in recent scholarship as a means to shed light on the psycho-social products of war and how these have fed into new or reconstructed forms of male subjectivity and agency. This paper adds to this literature through a consideration of the place of mountains and mountaineering in post-war recovery. It does so by means of a close reading of ‘Action’ (1928), a short story composed by journalist and novelist C.E. Montague. The story is an exploration of the experience of degeneration and how it could be overcome through the agency, willpower and awareness of the male climbing body. The paper situates ‘Action’ in relation to Montague's more famous work, Disenchantment (1922), and contends that the story was a response to Montague's diagnosis of post-war ills. As such, ‘Action’ resurrects associations between gender, virtue and the body present in Victorian and Edwardian constructions of manliness and maintains the special place afforded to (Alpine) mountains as health-giving, recuperative and restorative sanctuaries for male body projects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)282-302
Number of pages21
JournalSport in History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2013


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