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Durham University

Department of English Studies


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Publication details for Dr Guy Woodward

Woodward, Guy (2018). ‘These people know what they're fighting for’ Denis Johnston and the Partisans. Irish University Review 48(2): 331-347.

Author(s) from Durham


In March 1944 the dramatist and BBC radio correspondent Denis Johnston travelled to the Croatian island of Vis, to record spoken and sung contributions by Yugoslav Partisans and British Royal Air Force officers stationed there. Examining Johnston's wartime memoir Nine Rivers From Jordan alongside his broadcasts, manuscripts and notebooks, this essay considers the visit as a moment of imaginative liberation and escape, made possible both by Vis's utopian status as an island free from Nazi occupation and by the egalitarian social environment that he found there. Johnston's accounts are not entirely celebratory however, and the register of escape is complicated by the affinities he detects between the landscape of Vis and that of the West of Ireland, and between the communist Partisans and Irish Republicans.

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