Reconstructing Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon as a Modern Female Epic


Angela Carlton
Goldsmiths, University of London

Bernard Schweizer comments in his essay, ‘Epic Form and (Re)Vision in Rebecca West’s Black Lamb and Grey Falcon’ that ‘few twentieth-century British texts have been called epic as frequently as Black Lamb and Grey Falcon’.[1] Indeed, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon is often challenging to categorise because it seems to embody so many different genres of writing. Certainly, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon (1941) can be a daunting book simply because of its massive scale; at 1150 pages it is truly epic in length alone. However, it is the content, structure and motifs of the book that I maintain at times parallels and at other times departs from the epic tradition. The main argument of this essay is that Black Lamb and Grey Falcon can be reconstructed as a modern female epic, but in making this claim it is first necessary to determine if the text falls within the scope of established definitions of the traditional epic.

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon is a journey by British born Rebecca West through Yugoslavia, between the wars. West hoped that by travelling through Yugoslavia, accompanied by her husband and a spiritual guide she calls Constantine, that she would be able to unravel and understand the complexities that lead to world war. West makes clear from the beginning of her text that she understands women do not historically go abroad, but in an attempt to break from domesticity and ignorance allotted to her sex she goes to draw her own conclusions. Her text draws on deep analysis and poetic portrayals of the mythology, history and contemporary conditions of the Balkans. West hopes that her commissioned report on the Balkans will provide connections and understanding between the people of Britain and the Balkans to help prevent future world war. This massive undertaking could not have been more aptly timed by Rebecca West; however, it does represent the egotism of the Western world and the ongoing tradition of a Western traveller/hero journeying to another region for reasons of exploitation and national gain. In this case what was exploited were stories, mythos and histories of the Yugoslav people into what some have argued is pure propaganda.

According to M.M. Bakhtin in his work on epic and novel form, a traditional feature of the epic is the ‘transferral of a represented world into the past, and the degree to which the world participates in the past’[2]. Bakhtin goes on to add that the authorial voice of an epic is irrefutably male, and ‘speaking about a past that is to him inaccessible to the reverent point of view of a descendant’[3]. For Bakhtin, the novel is written contrarily from the perspective of the author’s own time, and it involves therefore a radical shift of thought by comparison with the epic. However, as noted by Stanford Friedman, ‘For many feminist poststructuralists in particular the lyric mode and poetry (especially avant-garde poetry) are tied to the repressed feminine, maternal, and pre-oedipal whereas narrative and the novel (especially the mimetic novel) are linked to the repressive masculine, paternal, and oedipal’.[4] And so, in this vein, Bakhtin’s well-established definitions of epic and novel do not account for the position of a dissenting, anti-patriarchal and female ‘novel’ or leave space to reconsider these dissenting ‘novels’ as female or ‘other’ epics.

Bakhtin does concede the possibility to ‘conceive of “my time” as heroic, epic time, when it is seen as historically significant’[5] and thus, in this regard, even with consideration of his framework remains the potentiality of expanding the epic genre with new additions. This is important to establish, for in order to reconsider Black Lamb and Grey Falcon as epic it is first necessary to allow either authorial voice and/or protagonist to be female but also to allow that same authorial voice or protagonist to be concerned with a present, and not simply distant past events, as in the Homeric epic. The supplementary arguments of this research then are that a modern epic dealing with the importance of chronicling moments in ‘my time’ is possible and exemplified in these three texts; and also that a female epic can exist when the motives and outcomes of journeying are presented in a dissentient manner to the patriarchal environment within which they were produced. This article will demonstrate that Black Lamb and Grey Falcon is a journey away from mainstream society, but also highlight that despite this aim, the text still operates within the system it is fighting, which ultimately defeats and overwhelms the modern epic hero of the work.

West is not the only author whose work has, as of late, been reconsidered for a new kind of epic. Karla Alwes posits that Virginia Woolf’s three canonical novels – The Voyage Out, Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse – work as a cohesive modern female epic. Alwes maintains that female epics deflate and challenge the heroism of war, where battle scenes and celebrations of courageous masculine feats ‘become in Woolf’s reflections on the spirit of European modernity, the fear of war instead’.[6] And Bernard Schweizer makes the case for three of West’s other novels: The Fountain Overflows (1956), This Real Night (1984) and Cousin Rosamund (1985) to consist of an epic trilogy (This Real Night and Cousin Rosamund were published posthumously).

However, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon remains the opus magnum of West’s work.

[T]his extremely long text is sub-divided into twelve chapters, thereby inviting comparison with Milton’s Paradise Lost and Virgil’s Aeneid. The prominence of the journey motif lends further credence to the epic label, as does the fact that this journey seems to follow the pattern of a quest. Indeed, West is traveling the breath and width of Yugoslavia in search of answers both to the region’s historical vexations and to the perilous course of Western civilization as she saw it focused through the Balkan lens. [7]

What makes West’s work more interesting, despite the adherence to certain traditional masculine techniques of epic, is the inclusion of the unheard female voices like the sister of the archduke Ferdinand’s assassin, whom West interviews out of interest ‘to know what happens after the great moments in history to the women associated by natural ties to the actors’.[8] At other times West describes in great detail the looks and attitudes of various peasant women whom she describes as ‘heroic’, ‘stoic’[9] ‘officer’s of Earth’[10] but suffering the enormous ‘grief of the Madonnas’ bringing their children into the world’s ‘broad prisons’[11], where West claims the sons of these women will escape to do the deeds of ‘upsetting kings and the overthrowal of empires’[12] but it is the women themselves she poeticises as ‘deformed by the slavery of her ancestors’[13]. These are the things, West writes, that you are never told. Throughout the text, West gives many detailed descriptions, different points of view and imagined possibilities of events, all presented not simply journalistically but as revealing the hidden ‘structure of the world, told to people who can be trusted with this knowledge and are receptive to it’[14].

One of Bakhtin’s criterions for the epic I previously cited was that the poet would speak of an inaccessible past to the ‘reverent point of view of a descendent’[15]. West is not a descendent of the Slavs, she is also speaking about her present—however, her momentous book asks: do all of those stupendous and miraculous moments that citizens of any nation recall upon in exalted moments to remember and know, for example, in West’s words, ‘what England has been—it can be again, now and forever’[16], do they matter? West’s husband suggests, ‘perhaps, it does not matter very much’[17]. And so the whole of a nation’s history and glory as instances necessary for creating cohesive order or content is here called into question. If West problematises this importance then perhaps we can consider her active journey as an epic of a different kind.

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon begins with West in a London hospital bed after an operation. Barely lucid, she is reading a poem she considers the most beautiful in the world, from which she quotes the first line: ‘Heureux qui, comme Ulysse, a fait un beau voyage’ or ‘Happy he who like Ulysses has returned successful from his travels’, which is taken from the first line of the 16th century poem of the same name by Joachim du Bellay[18]. I posit West begins her text with this, to suggest that the home a happy Ulysses would return to is being reshaped and reconstructed in unforeseen and perhaps threatening ways by the effects of modernity. West reads her poem by ‘the electric light’[19]; she listens to her radio that transmits: world news, music and talks that West learns to navigate like ‘a trapeze artist from programme to programme’[20].

After reading the poem, West hears on the radio:

[...] the music that is above earth, that lives in the thunderclouds and rolls in human ears and sometimes deafens them without betraying the path of its melodic line. I heard the announcer relate how the King of Yugoslavia had been assassinated […] so I imagined myself widowed and childless, which was another instance of the archaic outlook of the unconscious […] The thought did not then occur to me, so I rang for my nurse and when she came I cried to her, “Switch on the telephone! I must speak to my husband at once. A most terrible thing has happened. The King of Yugoslavia has been assassinated.” “Oh, dear!” she replied. “Did you know him?” “No,” I said. “Then why,” she asked, “do you think it’s so terrible?”[21]

Carl Rollyson found significance in this passage as he describes in Rebecca West: A Saga of the Century (1995) how the nurse’s dismay and ambivalence to the happenings outside of her world in England ‘reminds Rebecca that the word “idiot” is derived from a Greek root meaning private person’[22]. West believes that idiocy is culturally imposed upon women to ensure they are ‘hidden and uniformed about the going on in the world’[23]. West decides to break from this tradition to go and see and account for what is happening in the Balkans and thereby the world. This intention sets up Black Lamb and Grey Falcon as having epic intention and West as an epic hero.  Indeed, Georg Lukács describes an epic hero as someone whose defining characteristic is that he does not have a personal destiny but a communal one[24]. West makes clear in her prologue that she began knowing nothing of the Balkans, nothing of the South Slavs, and her desire to know, ‘proceeds steadily from […] a stream of events which are a source of danger to me’[25]. In a modern world, West equates her ignorance of the events in the Balkans with ignorance of her own destiny.

Here again we see the purpose for the desire to journey driven by the fear of war instead of the traditional reason of the Homeric epics, where journeying happens to fight war and then the return to restore order at home or in terms of the Vergillian epic to found a new patriarchal space (i.e. Rome). Though imbued in West’s statement is the desire to maintain global order, and she demonstrates again and again the significance that geography has on shaping culture and influencing philosophy, West understands that these cultural philosophies hold even more global significance in a modern world, ‘the proof lies in the power of these places to imprint the same stamp on whatever inhabitants history brings them, even if conquest spills out one population and pours in another wholly different race and philosophy’[26].  West’s journey departs from the purpose of the Homeric and Vergillian epic as West’s desire is to understand the Balkans and is not antagonistic, aggressive or colonizing. In fact, West makes clear to her husband that she wants to bring him to show him the wonderful things about the Balkans that she cannot tell him. When he presses her for an explanation of what the Balkans has that is more wonderful than possessed in the West, West states, ‘we are not as rich in the West as we think we are’[27]. And so she leaves open the possibility of a mutually beneficial and peaceful viewing by the English journeying to the Balkans. This implies a modern epic prerogative to have two worlds meet for unity or understanding instead of in hostility.

Black Lamb and Grey Falcon raises significant questions about women’s identities within Yugoslavia and is interesting for its use of West as the protagonist, author, foreign outsider and woman who is perceived within these landscapes and cultures. For instance, West’s unique position in the text allows her to problematise the issue of censorship with her guide Constantine when they discuss another book with similar historically comprehensive goals to Black Lamb and Grey Falcon. Constantine is the fictionalised characterization of the real life Stanislav Vinaver, who was the Press Bureau chief for the Yugoslav government based out of Sarajevo. West is annoyed that Constantine, who in reality was Stanislav Vinaver, a censor for the Yugoslavian Press Bureau based out of Belgrade, had decided to censor John Gunther’s Inside Europe by applying overtly strict standards that prevented, in West’s opinion, ‘the publication of any sincere book’[28].

‘You are wrong,’ [Constantine] shrieks, 'there is something your English brain does not know that our Serb blood is sure of, and that is that it is right to stamp on books written by such fools. Why should Western Cretins drool their spittle on our sacred things?’[29]

 In fact, West herself received criticism for relying so heavily and purporting Containtine’s ideas and ideals; one critic in particular—Stoyan Pribichevich, considered that her book promoted pro-Yugoslav propaganda. Pribichevich wrote in his review for The Nation, that “Miss West’s elaborate political analysis of Yugoslavia is what the Press Bureau wanted her to say’[30]. West does seem to place particular esteem in Constantine, whom she refers to as a ‘poet’ and treats as both muse and spiritual guide—a motif that connects her to Homer and Dante, Constantine is partially constructed as fiction, much like Dante’s Virgil, and meant to encompass a myriad of attitudes of the Slavic people. Constantine’s character functions as a godlike and immortal spirited character who guides West on her quest.

Constantine describes the differences between English men and Slavic men, and mentions women’s status as a sort of outside limbo beyond cultural expectations, he informs West, ‘because you are a woman, and so you have no very definite personality’[31] and indeed Bennett suggests that it is female sexuality that threatens patriarchal culture, ‘[…] a woman’s sexuality threatens the very basis of masculinity while at the same time jepordising society as a whole’[32].

Nonetheless, women appear throughout the text, histories and mythologies as symbols and motivations directly influencing nation-building and cultural identity. For instance, when West is traveling through Bosnia, Constantine tells about the mythology and customs surrounding St. George’s Day. He describes how Slavic women were used as a distraction and bait against the invading Turks. The women were sent out to the nearby forest of the town and told to sing and dance.

Then when the Turks heard them singing and saw them dancing they thought […] the fortress would be like a ripe fruit in their hands. But since they were always like wolves for women, they left their ladders and they ran down to rape the poor little ones before they started looting and killing in the town. When they were in the woodlands and marshes down by the river the Christians rose from their ambush and destroyed them. And the little ones who had been so brave went back to the city they had saved, and for a few more years they were not slaves[33].

Constantine goes on the offer his opinion of how the Slav men trusted the women, ‘so that there must have been an honorouble love between them’[34]. This story exemplifies how women are literally set up to, not only defend and sacrifice themselves for the state, but also how they can later be made into symbols of state.  Constantine explains that the tradition continues every St. George’s Day, and all the women of the town go to the river to sing and dance. And in this defending, sacrificing and symbolising they are made honorouble women for men. De Beauvoir states,

A myth always implies a subject who projects his hopes and his fears towards a sky of transcendence. Women do not set themselves up as subject and hence have erected no virile myth in which their projects are reflected […] woman has only a secondary part to play in the destiny of […] heroes[35].

We see the fears and anxieties towards women reflected in the character of Circe in The Odyssey. Circe is seen as ‘”bounded” in goodness’[36], by mortals, who see her alluringly and innocently at the loom and singing.  ‘The gods, however, know […] her hidden, “unbound” nature. […] the gods perceive her drugs and wand’[37], that she ultimately uses to sedate and ‘unman’ Odysseus’s men and perhaps more tellingly, almost causes them to forget their fatherland and their desire to return home. The way that women are mythologised and culturally constructed reflects religious constructions as well. The many descriptions of the iconostasis within the Orthodox churches in Black Lamb Grey Falcon highlights the important symbolism behind the iconostasis that separates and veils the chancel from the nave, so that the congregation is held in more mystery and specifically so that they nave that represents the ‘Earth’ is not able to view ‘Heaven’ represented by the chancel. This veiling and protecting is thematic throughout mythology and culture as a way of preserving the imagination over the reality of ‘an unencumbered body’[38].

In one instance, when West is watching an unconventional take on a traditional Yugoslavian dance, Constantine critically states, 

A woman must not spring about like a man to show how strong she is and she must not laugh like a man to show how happy she is. She has something else to do. She must go round wearing heavy clothes, not light at all, but heavy, heavy clothes, so that she is stiff, like an icon, and her face must mean one thing, like the face of an icon, and when she dances she must move without seeming to move, as if she were an icon held up before the people[39].

 In another example, West is disconcerted when she encounters a group of Turkish prostitutes:

I went over to the girl at the loom and stood beside her, looking down on her hands, as if I wanted to see how a carpet was made. But she did nothing, and suddenly I realised she was angry and embarrassed. She did not know how to weave a carpet any more than I do[40].

Weaving and clothes are age-old literary symbols that evoke Penelope and the loom; for three years Penelope weaved a shroud for her father-in-law during the day, and every night deceptively undid that day’s work to buy time and wait for Odysseus’s return. It also recalls Arachne who boasted that she was as skilled at weaving as Athena and was challenged by her, who turned her into a spider for daring to defy her. Bennett suggests that weaving is the most valued feminine activity next to bearing children (Bennett 132). However, like all traditional feminine arts, weaving creates the possibility for deception, illusion and trickery. Of course there is the obvious example of the Fates weaving men’s destiny. But also specifically, In The Odyssey Circe almost brings about Odysseus’s doom attempts to make him forget his loyalty to his fatherland, in the same way that in Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Constantine’s German wife Gerda almost ruins West’s trip. Gerda consistently attempts to undermine and derail West’s motivations in the Balkans. Clare Colquitt (1986) suggested that Gerda presents just as large a threat to Constantine, who is also a Jewish Serb, as Germany threatens Yugoslavia, and Europe at large. ‘By painstakingly depicting Constantine’s slow “dying”, West warns her readers as well as nations who choose to obey Siren’s call. The Siren to whom Constantine listens [is Gerda, who] both unmans her husband and spoils West’s second pilgrimage to Yugoslavia’[41].

Gerda antagonises West by both placating the brand of ‘idiocy’ that West is trying to escape and as a manipulator of Constantine, and thus an interloper on West’s journey. West understands that there is no escape from Gerda or from German fascism. She worryingly sees the effects of Gerda’s influence on Constantine, ‘He looked years older, and congested. It was as if in his abandonment to Gerda’s nihilism he had withdrawn his consent to every integrating process, even to the circulation of his blood’[42]. As Simone de Beauvoir demonstrated in The Second Sex, in mythology it’s ‘the Parcae [and] the Moirai who weave the destiny of mankind; but it is they also who cut the threads’[43], which showcases men’s representation of women as the bringing of life and death—holding the world in balance for them to shape. By applying De Beauvoir’s conception it becomes clearer how women in West’s text are described as symbols to maintain conceptions of home and country. West observes women in Macedonia with bodies so weighted down by thick clothes that ‘worms cannot gnaw through a shroud of it’. It was as if they were wearing ‘bed-clothes’ or like they were ‘stiff and stylized Virgin of the icons’ ‘inorganic’ or ‘dead’[44].These descriptions evoke how women are traditionally fixed in society as allegorical symbols of home and family but also hold the mystery of life and death. ‘Death is [often represented as] woman, and it is for women to bewail the dead because death is their work’[45].  

West brilliantly and poetically conceives of this visibility whilst witnessing an old peasant woman walking up a path in Montenegro. West implores her reader,

Could the mind twitch away the black curtain behind the stars, it might be dazzled by a brightness brighter than the stars, which might be the battle-field for another splendid conflict as yet not conceived. It was towards this splendour that the woman was leading, as we passed her later, leaving the road and treading over the turf among gentians which she did not see. “Good-bye!” Dragutin cried to her. “Good-bye, Mother!”[46].

In this representation, West shows us a woman leaving into the unknown, again asking: will she return? By Dragutin’s yelling ‘Good-bye, Mother’ it seems unlikely, and in fact, the use of the word ‘mother’ works to evoke the death of the old status of womanhood as stagnant, while also pandering to the myth by offering the possibility of the new birth of ‘splendid conflict as yet not conceived’ as quoted above. In Douglas Frame’s (1978) etymological study of Greek epic, Frame demonstrates that ‘sleep’ was planned as a basic part of Odysseus’s return, and he goes further to make the allegorical connection of sleep and death, when he quotes this passage from the Odyssey, ‘And upon his eyes there fell a gentle sleep, the sweetest sort of sleep with no awakening, which was most like death’[47]. Frame uses this connection to support his overarching argument that Odysseus’s traits of ‘wiliness’ and ‘wandering’ originate in an earlier ‘fundamental connection between “mind” and “returning home,”’[48]. This established connection is relevant as the dichotomy between ‘consciousness’ or being alive and ‘unconsciousness’ or being dead, takes a new meaning in Black Lamb and Grey Falcon where the unified Balkans do not have the luxury of consciously recalling victorious history that the Greeks of the Odyssey have or the certainty of reestablishing a stable homeland that Odysseus and his audience carry. Thus the conscious existence or a wily wanderer through the Balkans might expect quite a different outcome than the almost unquestioned success of Odysseus when he reemerges at his fatherland. When West views the woman walking away into the unknown, it is implied that her journey and her landscape may not lead to an awakening from death but perhaps further into death. As it is a woman who is seen journeying, and I have demonstrated that women can be allegories of death, this connection is more likely.  

West’s reliance on using allegorical and anthropomorphised symbolisms instead of analysis to discuss Yugoslavia follows the Homeric epic tradition where Homer presents the story, not as a fantasy but as a journey through an accepted cosmology. Samuel Eliot Bassett’s (1983) comprehensive study on the poetry of Homer posits three illusions that exist to create Homeric epic illusion: 1) the illusion of historicity, ‘which removes from the mind of the hearer every doubt that the characters of the tale once actually lived and that the events are historically true’[49]; 2) the illusion of vitality, which constitutes ‘the realism, in its most literal sense, with which the tale from beginning to end conforms with the essential and most universal felt characteristics of life itself’[50] and also contains within it progressiveness, continuity and movement; 3) the illusion of personality[51]. But Michael Murrin (1980) argues that the Homeric epic was destroyed by the ‘historicism of the eighteenth-century’[52]. West’s text is journalistic and written in prose; I maintain that her text challenges but also expands upon the Homeric illusions of historicity, vitality and personality by acknowledging a dynamically different modern era and audience. As previously mentioned, West problematises the illusion of epic historicity by questioning the significance of recalling a great national history as a means for the individual citizen to ‘plunge for revivification’[53].  And yet West creates a specifically modern illusion of vitality and personality. In her text’s prologue she mentions having created an allegorical cosmology, 

I am never sure of the reality of what I see, if I have seen it only once; I know that until it has firmly established its objective existence by impressing my senses and my memory, I am capable of conscripting it into the service of a private dream[54].

West journeying to escape idiocy and unravel the history and mythologies leading to the Great War becomes a new type of epic hero: a female hero who opens new possibilities for women. Just as in the Homeric epic, West’s journey is undertaken to illustrate that reality is proven by seeing or by appearance. West makes clear that her text is meant to have the appearance of a journey and take the reader on a journey as well. In a letter defending the style of her text West wrote:

I wanted [the audience] to [receive from the story] the loose attractiveness of various pleasant things in life—such as wild flowers in a field. Again and again I broke sequences and relaxed tension to get the lethargic attention of the ordinary reader along the road[55].  

This is similar to Homer’s motivations for his audience, as Bassett points out,

Homer rhymes and alliterates, but not according to any pattern. But we can be sure that his ear was attuned to melody and discord because of the rare verses where the sounds of syllables agree in pleasantness and unpleasantness with the moment which the verse describes[56].

Bassett illustrates that Homer was more interested in the normal day-to-day activities and occupations common to all human life, which West certainly bespeaks of throughout her text that navigates through everyday moments sitting and drinking coffee with friends, touring churches and contemplating the scenery outside of a train window. As I briefly touched upon previously there are also many connections to be made between West’s text and the Vergillian epic tradition, as well as Dante, Romantic epic and Milton, etc. However, for the purposes of this article I have focused primarily on Homeric connections and departures as Homer if often regarded as the origin or “father” of the epic tradition. In my longer research I explore how the female epic and in some cases the modern novel are simply newer trends and avenues in the living and expanding epic tradition.

I posit that women can be epic heroes when their journey explores inward psychology and moments of being rather than physical and patrilineal explorations for empire and patriarchy. To reverse the image of woman as an ‘other’ to be confronted, conquered and protected ‘is a heroic process in which the alternative creation of a woman’s epic vision may well play a central role’[57].  West ends her book with an explanation of why she purposely neglects to thank her friends for their contributions to her work’s efforts,

All the people I mention in this book are now either dead or living in a state of misery as yet impossible for us to the West to imagine. […] If I were to name any of my friends this might add a last extravagance to their sufferings[58].

This statement works as both an appeal to the Western world to attempt at understanding another people, but it also works to establish Rebecca West very clearly as the subject, writing, telling and experiencing the journey and seeing the results of her quest, which in itself works to break women’s role (and Yugoslavia’s) as ‘Other’.

West’s awareness that the journey is historically a means for men to encounter the foreign leads her to attempt to rescript the journey, to identify not with the order-restoring Odysseus but with travellers ‘who may never find their way home’[59], who are unsuccessful, defeated or lost. And though it is true that within the Odyssey itself Tiresias suggests that Odysseus may not remain at home for long before his wandering nature leads him outwards again, this ongoing and privileged travelling is not the same as the lost, defeated and kidnapped travelling available to displaced people of war, foreigners and women. West deliberately illuminates the connection and importance of gender and genre. West demonstrates she understands the necessity, politically and aesthetically, of reconsidering the female traveller. I have shown that this text deliberately engages with the journey of a foreign female ‘other’ through the histories, symbolisms and instances of a conglomeration of cultures attempting to unify themselves as a single entity in between two great wars. West’s need for clarity and understanding lead her to explore the region for herself on a colossal quest to discover if such cohesion was possible, how national identities are forged and where women fall into those constructions. Through all of this she discovers that old means of nation building and myth-making are radically changing in a globalised world.


[1] Bernard Schweizer, ‘Epic Form and (Re)Vision in Rebecca West's Black Lamb and Grey Falcon’, in Approaches to the Anglo and American Female Epic, 1621-1982 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006),  p. 69.

[2] M.M. Bakhtin, ‘Epic and Novel’ in Michael Holquist (ed.) Caryl Emerson & Michael Holquist (trans.), Toward a Methodology for the Study of the Novel, (Austin: U of Texas, 1981), p. 13.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Susan Stanford Friedman, Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1998) pp. 228-29.

[5] Bakhtin, ‘Epic and Novel’ in Toward a Methodology for the Study of the Novel, pp. 13-14.

[6] Karla Alwes, ‘Virginia Woolf and the Modern Epic’, in Bernard Schweizer (ed.) Approaches to the Anglo and American Female Epic, 1621-1982, (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), p. 56.

[7] Bernard Schweizer,‘Epic Form and (Re)Vision in Rebecca West's Black Lamb and Grey Falcon’, in Approaches to the Anglo and American Female Epic, 1621-1982      (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006),  p. 69.

[8] Rebecca West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey Through Yugoslavia. (Edinburgh: Canongate, 1993), p. 418.

[9] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 403.

[10] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 818.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 403.

[14] Michael J Bennett, Belted Heroes and Bound Women: The Myth of the Homeric Warrior-King, (Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1997), p. 131.  

[15]  Bakhtin, ‘Epic and Novel’ in Toward a Methodology for the Study of the Novel,

[16] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 56.

[17] Ibid.

[18] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 1.

[19] Ibid.

[20] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 2.

[21] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, pp. 2-3.

[22] Carl Rollyson, ‘Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Modern Scheherazade’ in Rebecca

West: A Saga of the Century, (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1995), p. 178. 

[23] Ibid.

[24] Georg Lukács, ‘The Epic and the Novel’ in The Theory of the Novel: A Historico-Philopsophical Essay on the Forms of Great Epic Literature, (London: Merlin P, 1971).  

[25] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 21

[26] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 747.

[27] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 23.

[28] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 836.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Stoyan Pribichevich, ‘Rebecca West in Yugoslavia’, rev of Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, (Nation 8 Nov. 1941), pp. 457-58.

[31] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 91.

[32] Bennett, Belted Heroes and Bound Women, pp. 137-38.  

[33] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 412.

[34] Ibid.

[35] Simone De Beauvoir, The Second Sex, H.M. Parshley (trans.) (London: Vintage, 1997) p. 174

[36] Bennett, Belted Heroes and Bound Women, p. 135.

[37] Ibid.

[38] Bennett, Belted Heroes and Bound Women, pp. 137-38.

[39] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 93.

[40] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 278.

[41] Clare Colquitt, ‘A Call to Arms: Rebecca West’s assault on the limits of Gerda’s Empire in Black Lamb and Grey Falcon’ in South Atlantic Review, (Spring, 1986), p. 79.

[42] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 836.

[43] De Beauvoir, The Second Sex, p. 179.

[44] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, pp. 673-74

[45] De Beauvoir, The Second Sex, p. 179.

[46] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 1013.

[47] Homer, The Odyssey, S.H. Butcher and A. Langv(trans.) Vol. XXII (The Harvard Classics. New York: P.F. Collier & Son, 1909–14), pp. xiii 79-80.

[48] Douglas Frame, The Myth of Return in Early Greek Epic, (New Haven and London: Yale UP, 1978), p. xi.

[49] Samuel Eliot Bassett, The Poetry of Homer (Uo California P, 1939), p. 28. 

[50] Bassett, The Poetry of Homer, p. 32.

[51] Bassett, The Poetry of Homer, p. 56.

[52] Michael Murrin, The Allegorical Epic: Essays in its Rise and Decline, (Chicago and London: U of Chicago P, 1980), p. 173.

[53] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 56.

[54] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 23.

[55] Rollyson, Rebecca West, p. 183.

[56] Bassett, The Poetry of Homer, p. 156.

[57] Alwes, Approaches to the Anglo and American Female Epic, p. 66.

[58] West, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, p. 1158

[59] David G Farley, Modernist Travel Writing: Intellectuals Abroad, (Columbia and London: U of Missouri P, 2010), p.155.


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