‘A Jazzed and Patchwork Modern’: ‘future’ girls and modern masculinities in the early popular romances of Berta Ruck

Publication year
Women's History Review

Kanerick says of Ruck (whose first novel was published in 1914) that

she charts, often in minute detail, the ways in which societal and cultural developments were loosening many of the old conventions embodied in a young woman’s seamless transition from her father’s protection to that of her husband. My aim here is to draw attention to the ways in which the novels highlight the impact of such developments on perceptions of masculinity at the period, and to suggest a connection with her particular popularity. The meticulous research and attention to detail which characterises Ruck’s pursuit of modernity as ‘that which we always have to catch up with’ is apparent in the sharp-eyed materiality which tempers the element of escapism generally seen as intrinsic to the genre. Ruck’s self-avowed fear of being left behind and ‘dread of depletion’ not only indicates the pressures on those writers catering for a capricious readership within the popular fiction market, but also highlights the rapidity and depth of social and economic change at the period. (686)