First World War Literature

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Archipelagic poetry of the First World War

Archipelagic poetry of the First World War

no real threat of invasion to the home countryside - in spite of a vigorous invasion-scare literature in the years before the war - there remained a strong sense in which the poets of England, Wales, and Scotland, considered themselves to be fighting, and writing, in defence of that landscape, if only as a token of the values which they considered it to embody. 22 What Ivor Gurney’s Gloucestershire, Charles Murray’s Aberdeenshire, and Hedd Wynn’s Meirionnydd share is a sense of the regional particularity that provides the strands of the rich national tapestry for which British soldiers fought: a Union in action through which local landscapes are woven into a national patria. But the Irish landscape, steeped in the folkloric myth of the Celtic Twilight, is inevitably other to this. Topographically, it does not form part of the same landmass, and imaginatively it is insulated by reason of its cultural and political history and by the strenuous and self-conscious attempts to de-Anglicize it by Douglas Hyde and Yeats. An Irish writer like Ledwidge, then, experiences an affective gap in his war pastoral – to what end does a nostalgic invocation of his homeland operate when that homeland is neither under physical or imaginative threat and when the history it embodies is alien to the larger cause for which he fights? He is not so much fighting in defence of that home landscape as fighting for a return to it – an Allied victory will not further the values manifest in it, will not even necessarily preserve them, but may simply allow him to get back and re-immerse himself in them; if, that is, he can survive the war, which Ledwidge did not.
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The rhetoric of disfigurement in First World War Britain

The rhetoric of disfigurement in First World War Britain

years of the war, to the extent that the disabled soldier could be hailed as ‘ not less but more of a man ’ . 53 John Galsworthy, in his foreword to the 1922 Handbook for the Limb- less, amplifies this sentiment: ‘ The Briton has to be “ up against it ” ’ , he wrote, ‘ to be seen at his best — an expensive but thrilling characteristic ’ . 54 An entire chapter is devoted to ‘ Recreations for those who have lost limbs ’ , and includes bicycling, riding, boxing and bil- liards for the one-armed. Those who were ‘ sick ’ (physically or mentally) had to live with the suspicion of malingering. The ‘ wounded ’ , however, bore the visible proof of their valour and sacrifice. 55 There is a paradox here. As Mary Guyatt points out, amputation was ‘ one of the most visible reminders of war ’ . Only by concealing the loss could the country ‘ begin to move forward seemingly cleansed and guilt-free ’ . 56 And yet, looking through the press clippings from Roehampton hospital, one is struck by the lack of con- cealment of absent and artificial limbs in comparison to facial disfigurement. Artificial legs in particular were presented as objects of superior craftsmanship as well as utility in much of the trade literature Guyatt considers; what is perhaps more surprising is the visual display of bodily reconstruction in the illustrated press. In two photographs published in the Illustrated London News in October 1915, we see the final adjustments being made to a full-length, polished and ready-shod wooden leg (Figures 4 and 5). The recipi- ent looks on, his empty trouser leg folded loosely at the hip ready for the limb to be fitted. In the second image, another young man stands confidently — almost defiantly — without support, his trousers rolled above the knee to reveal a pair of brand new artificial legs.
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Combat Resilience in the First World War – a Historiographical Review

Combat Resilience in the First World War – a Historiographical Review

evidence illuminates the sexual role of women in contact with the British Expeditionary Force in France and Flanders.(26) Gibson persuasively argues two points that challenge orthodoxy in viewing sex during the First World War. First, non-combatant troops did not ‘monopolize’ women at the front. Second, homo-erotic or homosexual relationships were exceptional and ‘over-emphasized’ by scholars like Fussell and Niall Ferguson, while ignoring the abundant literature recording heterosexual relationships.(27) Gibson wishes to redress the balance by refuting the pervasive trend propagated by Fussell and others. He tackles Fussell’s contention squarely: ‘Despite the claim that officers reveled in a tightly knit, masculine community and that the comradeship of the trenches was an extension of the homoeroticism of the public school, most of them were as interested in the local women as their men were’.(28) But there were serious time-constraints that left little leisure time to enjoy women. ‘Troops coming out of the line needed sleep, food, and women, in that order’.(29) As Niall Ferguson notes in The Pity of War, it was a semblance of home-life that soldiers longed to recreate in this hellhole.(30) These sentiments are evident in a Canadian Private’s reminiscences which juxtaposed sex and home-baked goods as treats to be enjoyed. It was not ordinary milk but ‘a big bowl of warm cow’s milk.’ Not just a piece of bread but ‘freshly baked brick-oven bread’.(31) This soldier savored every essence that reflected a deep appreciation of creature-comforts like those taken for granted back home. At the front, anything that reminded a soldier of home and normality was seized upon. Sex features prominently in studies of combat performance and its constituent parts, discipline and morale, for instance in Kaushik Roy’s recent article seeking to explain the dramatic turn-around of the Colonial armies in Southeast Asia after suffering horrendous losses during the Second World War.(32) A resurgence in scholarly literature encompassing both World Wars gives special attention to sex as a legitimate but overlooked factor that impacted morale. More studies following Roy’s example would be welcome in Europe and the Pacific.
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Shell shocked: trauma, the emotions and the First World War

Shell shocked: trauma, the emotions and the First World War

These criticisms suggest a lack of sympathy for the aims of historical fiction, which are not the aims of history. Barker uses historical fiction in a now well-established way, drawing on the exoticism of the past and attempting to balance it with an appeal to the apparently universal aspects of the human psyche, and alternately using this foreignness as a vehicle for greater understanding of the present. Regeneration is a literary work about literary figures (Sassoon, Owen, Graves) from a war which has always been approached by general readers through its poetry and fiction as much, if not more than, through its histories. It appeals to those who enjoy reading the poems, novels, and memoirs of the First World War, as well as to historians interested in the shaping and re-shaping of the memory of the war in literature and popular culture. It helps, of course, that the tale of Sassoon’s protest is a cracking story even without the intervention of the novelist; it was a staple of histories of shell shock before Regeneration was published. For all its literariness, though, Regeneration is also a novel which asks questions which are both ethical and historical. As Barker dissects and probes the ethical issues raised by Sassoon’s protest, the reader is forced to engage with a number of very big questions around the ‘justified’ costs of war, the rights of the soldier to protest, and the purpose of military psychiatry, These were all issues which were definitely on the liberal-left agenda in the late 1980s and 1990s, but strangely enough also caused soul-searching among those involved in waging a world war. Long before Barker came along, Freud described military doctors as ‘like machine guns’ driving fugitives back to the front.(5) OK, Regeneration isn’t A. J. P. Taylor, but it’s not Georgette Heyer either.
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The French Army and the First World War

The French Army and the First World War

Greenhalgh to pose the question of what exactly constitutes mutiny, as in her eyes, what transpired in the French Army in 1917 was nothing out of the ordinary. In her words: ‘The various incidents were so disparate in type, extent and duration that it has proved hard to define precisely what constituted the 1917 “mutiny”’. Do drunken groups of soldiers proclaiming anti-war sentiments? Does the reading of pacifist literature handed out en route home? Does one or two men slipping away but returning to their units a few days later? If so, is there a figure that has to be attained in order to alter the nature of the case from an individual’s misdemeanour to a full-scale mutiny? (p. 220) These are all valid questions asked by Greenhalgh; though somewhat superfluous when it is considered that an alternative definition is not forthcoming and the terms ‘mutiny’ and ‘mutineers’ are readily used in the ensuing discussion of events. Perhaps something akin to David Englander’s use of the term ‘strike’ might have provided a useful working definition in order to distance the events from the violent term mutiny, in favour of more peaceful demonstrations.(5)
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Mapping the First World War Using Interactive Streamgraphs

Mapping the First World War Using Interactive Streamgraphs

Named Entity Recognition (NER) is a task of information extraction that aims to identify in-text references to concepts such as people, locations and organizations, mainly in unstructured natural-language text. NER is very useful for text indexing, text summarization, question answering and several other tasks that enhance the experience between humans and literature. Furthermore, advanced NER and disambiguation techniques are capable of dealing with noise

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Shell Shock and Medical Culture in First World War Britain

Shell Shock and Medical Culture in First World War Britain

remarkable because shell shock was a highly gendered (the published literature only considered soldiers, which is why we know so little about the traumatic reactions of nurses) and classed (there were separate treatment facilities for officers and men, and there were clear differences in the diagnostic labels used by doctors for soldiers of different ranks) concept. There was a tradition of separating functional disorders into male and female affections even if, in their clinical presentation, they were quite similar. Traumatic neuroses – hysterical symptoms typically developing after industrial accidents and thus largely observed in men – were the first point of reference for doctors trying to understand the newly emerging phenomenon of shell shock. With the extension of this pre-war concept, male hysteria moved from the industrial world into the combat zone, both masculine environments, taking over gender and class stereotypes (working class men, p. 128). Like traumatic neurosis, shell shock was never fully integrated into models of functional disorders. Despite an increased awareness of male hysteria in the early 20th century, it was only accepted in two particular contexts – the modern industrial environment and the warzone.
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The British Centennial Commemoration of the First World War

The British Centennial Commemoration of the First World War

This article reviews the course and development of British planning to commemorate the First World War. It highlights the fact that any commentary on that war in Britain has to take ac- count of the prevailing cultural norms. These norms have evolved through much of the poetry, literature, theatre and film of the past century, and have come to represent the war as essen- tially futile, with an horrendous loss of life, best commemorated through the annual acts of remembrance for the fallen. As this national memory paid scant attention to the many works of revisionist military history written over the last generation, military historians were among the more sceptical when the UK government belatedly announced plans (and derisory levels of go- vernment funding) to commemorate the First World War. However, the Heritage Lottery Fund has filled the funding gap with £57 million, enabling all manner of projects to flourish whether of national, regional or local significance. By 4-5 August 2014, over 2,330 events, including 519 exhibitions, had been held, and numerous events marked the outbreak of the war. Poppies were again to the fore, most notably the 800,000 ceramic poppies, one for each fallen serviceman, at the Tower of London.
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Conrad and the First World War

Conrad and the First World War

During the First World War, Conrad believed himself peripheral to a transitional historical moment. In November 1914, he wrote : ‘ the thoughts of this war sit on one’s chest like a nightmare. I am painfully aware of being crippled, of being idle, of being useless with a sort of absurd anxiety’ (CL 5, 427). In August 1915, Conrad felt the ‘world of 15 years ago is gone to pieces; what will come in its place God knows, but I imagine doesn’t care’ (CL 5, 503). The political forces of nineteenth-century Europe that had fashioned Conrad’s literature, notably imperialism and nationalism, were undermined and unleashed anew by the violence of the Great War and the uncertain legacy of the conflict. Conrad closely observed Poland’s fate throughout the war in his relationship with Polish activist Józef Retinger, which inspired ‘A Note on the Polish Problem’ (1916) and ‘The Crime of Partition’ (1919). While 1918 saw the political rebirth of Poland, antagonisms provoked by the redrawing of Europe’s historical boundaries made Conrad uneasy. On Armistice Day, he wrote: ‘The great sacrifice is consummated – and what will come of it to the nations of the earth the future will show. I can not confess to an easy mind. Great and very blind forces are set free catastrophically all over the world’ (CL 6, 302).
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Panic over the pub : drink and the First World War

Panic over the pub : drink and the First World War

In a world in which a perversion of social darwinism predominated, concerns regarding national efficiency and racial degeneration were all the more pertinent leading to a reinterpretation of the necessity of social reform in the face of mass insecurity. These social anxieties, shared by both the political left and right, were increased by new international trade and political competition from America and Germany, intensified by a slow population growth in comparison with these nations, and by the debacle of the Boer War, which seemed to prove the inadequacy of the British working class lifestyle, particularly of those living in urban environments, which was later confirmed by official government inquiries. 40 These inquiries drew attention to the fact that society’s failures could no longer remain hidden within the public house if British superiority was to be guaranteed. Drastic social reform based upon good housing, public health measures, education, clean air and water, and an adequate wage, were believed to be the necessary foundations for the creation of a renewed populace of sufficient manpower to maintain the industry and armies of Empire. As the universal appreciation of self-disciplined individuals grew, it is unsurprising that anti-drink thought assumed a newfound credibility. In this context, as R.B. Weir argues, the drunkard ‘was the worst enemy which the trade has to fight and the best weapon possessed by the temperance orator’. 41
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British Diplomacy on Albania during the First World War

British Diplomacy on Albania during the First World War

Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs had considered that this Serbian representation had been exaggerated and warned Serbia and Montenegro not to begin any expedition in Albania (TNA: FO 371/2258, p 21). France, like its ally Russia, considered that the situation of Esat Pasha had been exaggerated in the Serbian representation and thus Delcassé advised Serbian Government not to take action in Albania (TNA: FO 371/2258, p 26). The British minister in Serbia (Nish) Sir Charles des Graz as well had been given instructions from the Foreign Office to advise Serbian Government that it would be wiser for the not to take any action in Albania (TNA: FO 371/2258, p 23). With learning by Italian ambassador about the advancement of a considerable number of Serbian forces toward Albanian frontier, the Foreign Office had instructed Sir Des Graz to persuade Serbian Government to avoid any movement against Albania (TNA: FO 371/2258, p 36). While Lord Kitchener from War Office, on the preparations that the Serbian Government was making for the advance towards Durazzo, had instructed Colonel Harrison in Kraguyevac, to inform the General Staff that such movements were objectionable for political and strategic reasons. He stressed that "[…] Military situation demands that Serbs should keep all available forces for employment against Austrians with a view to securing Bosnia, Herzegovina and access to the Adriatic by co-operating with Russians and Italians. […]” (TNA: FO 371/2258, p 37).
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A Terrible Beauty: British Artists in the First World War

A Terrible Beauty: British Artists in the First World War

hiding such images from the public eye, arguing that it was an odd state of affairs ‘which sheds a curious light on the official mind when one remembers the grim films that have been exhibited and the books of horrible photographs that have been published.’ (78) It is true that dead British soldiers were to be viewed in such films as ‘The Battle of the Somme’, which went on widespread British release in late summer 1916. But by late 1917 there was a ban on the depiction of corpses in official films, photographs and art. Token injuries such as bandaged headwounds or arms in a (preferably clean) sling were acceptable and this convention is evident in much of the work produced towards the end of the war, from the conservative figuration of Beadle’s The Breaking of the Hindenberg Line, to Henry Tonks’ An Advanced Dressing Station, which despite its dank grimness and the whiff of fetid air is reassuring in its care for the injured. Maimed limbs are well-concealed under the cover of thick blankets: melodramatic postures are preferred over damaged flesh. (79) The formula for representing British and Allied wounded and dead did not extend to the enemy: both Nevinson and Orpen depicted German corpses, Orpen’s rendition of an emaciated body in his fiercely frank canvas Dead Germans in a Trench, first shown in public in May 1918, is unflinching in its portrayal of disfigurement, the bodies contorted and bent, their flesh grey- green and ghastly. Compare the rigor mortis in this canvas and in Nevinson’s vast Dante-esque panorama The Harvest of Battle, with the decorous wounds described by Gilbert Rogers in his large canvas Stretcher Bearers after the Battle of Messines, where the British wounded appear to suffer only minor injuries and are whole in body and limb, while the German copses are scattered fragments strewn around the edges of the painting. However, the protocols on depicting the dead were relaxed after the Armistice. John Nash’s painting ‘Over the top: 1 st Artist’s Rifles at Marcoing, December 30 th 1917’,
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First World War

First World War

The new weapons and tactics of World War I led to horrific injuries and hazards. The fighting men were surrounded by filth, lice, rats, and polluted water that caused dysentery. They inhaled poison gas and smelled the stench of decaying bodies. They suffered from lack of sleep. Constant bombardments and other expe- riences often led to battle fatigue and “shell shock,” a term coined during World War I to describe a complete emotional collapse from which many never recovered. Physical problems included a disease called trench foot, caused by standing in cold wet trenches for long periods of time without changing into dry socks or boots. First the toes would turn red or blue, then they would become numb, and finally they would start to rot. The only solution was to amputate the toes, and in some cases the entire foot. A painful infection of the gums and throat, called trench mouth, was also common among the soldiers.
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Art from the First World War Review Article

Art from the First World War Review Article

Go and paint the men Orpen did. The women too, although one portrait, now entitled ‘The Refugee’ (1918) is evidence that an Orpen portrait, intelligently pursued as in Upstone and Weight, can yield fascinating evidence as to how one official war artist operated, none of it evident from Orpen’s own text. Angela Weight’s commentary tells us that Orpen painted and submitted to the authorities two versions of ‘The Refugee’, now in the IWM collection as ‘Refugee (A)’ and ‘Refugee (B)’, both of which he initially entitled ‘The Spy’. On p. 156, we are shown ‘Refugee A)’. This rosy-cheeked young woman with what used to be called ‘bedroom eyes’ is Yvonne Aubic (189?–1973), subject of at least six other Orpen studies.‘Refugee’ from her native Lille Mlle Aubic may have been, but she was no ‘spy’. What she was was one of Orpen’s mistresses. Mlle Aubicq was working for the Red Cross when he met her, Weight observing that at this time Orpen often sought medical help for what Orpen terms in his text ‘blood poisoning’. Upstone suggests that in Orpen’s case the condition might more accurately be categorized as ‘syphilis’. Orpen’s ‘spy’ later married Orpen’s chauffeur, became a dog breeder and then a judge at Cruft’s.
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Re evaluating syndicalist opposition to the First World War

Re evaluating syndicalist opposition to the First World War

existing state structure. 48 Both the Socialist Party and its union confederation had declared themselves to be neutralist, adopting the formula of ‘né aderire, né sabotare’ - refusing to either support the war or sabotage it (for fear disruption would only aid the enemy’s ruling class). As a result they refused to work directly with the USI, but likewise the USI was not prepared to work with the Socialist Party, even after the latter had threatened to call a general strike if Italy did not remain neutral. The USI could not accept the fact that the Socialist Party would have political control in calling such protest action, since this would amount to a repudiation of their past stance against reformism. Thus, almost from the war’s inception, the USI found itself shut off from the main segment of the neutralist movement. Such isolation inevitably weakened its position, already undermined by the internal split with the interventionists. 49
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Calvary Or Catastrophe? French Catholicism's First World War

Calvary Or Catastrophe? French Catholicism's First World War

The battlefield crucifixes that lined the Western Front powerfully connected industrialized warfare with the Christian past. This elision of the bloody corporeality of the crucifixion with the bodily suffering wrought by industrial warfare forged a connection between religious belief and modern reality that lies at the heart of my dissertation. Through the poignancy of Christ’s suffering, French Catholics found an explanatory tool for the devastation of the Great War, affirming that the blood of the French dead would soon blossom in rich harvest. This dissertation argues that the story of French Catholicism and the Great War uncovers a complex and often dissonant understanding of the conflict that has become obscured in the uniform narrative of disillusionment and vain sacrifice to emerge in the last century. Considering the thought to emerge from the French renouveau catholique from 1910 up to 1920, I argue that far from symbolizing the modernist era of nihilism, the war in fact created meaning in a world that had lost touch with its God. At the same time, my reasoning is sensitive to the manner in which the application of Catholic dogma to modern war constituted a form of resistance to the encroaching secularization of French society following the separation of the French state and the Catholic Church in 1905. Through a survey of the major authors associated with the French Catholic revival – Ernest Psichari, Francois Mauriac, L � on Bloy, Paul Claudel and Henri Massis to name but a few – this dissertation aims to recover a different account of the war in the French tradition than the now canonical visions of the conflict inspired by the novels of Barbusse, Cendrars and C � line. In particular, this study aims to question why the major players of the French Catholic revival have fallen so dramatically from the canon given the radical nature of their postulations at the beginning of the twentieth century. More broadly, it seeks to probe the persistence of the vision of the Great War held in the collective imaginary, asking why this myth repeatedly rejects alternative narratives of the conflict. In foregrounding the resurgence of faith, I suggest that French Catholicism allows us to climb out of the trenches to see an altogether different war.
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Domestic factors in Italian intervention in the First World War

Domestic factors in Italian intervention in the First World War

et al, Correspondence, 1897-1938 Paris 1952 Colombo, G., Fatti economici: le grandi banche in Italia nel 1915 Rome 1916 Conti, £• , Dal taccuino di un borghese Milan 1946 Coppola, F,, La[r]

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Aftershocks: Violence in Dissolving Empires after the First World War

Aftershocks: Violence in Dissolving Empires after the First World War

the long-term effects and significance of this alliance between criminal gangs and Turkish nationalists long outlasted the post-war, post-imperial period, as prominent individuals and groups in the Istanbul underworld continued to wield influence and authority long after the cessation of violence. Gingeras shows how the ‘aftershocks’ period in Anatolia, while an important historical turning point, needs to be related to the larger context of what the author terms ‘the Young Turk period’ in Anatolian history, which spanned the first half of the twentieth century. His article also calls for a more global perspective in the study of gangs and paramilitary groups and their role in the formation of modern states. While the authority of Ibraham’s clan and Ikhsan Sekban, two of Gingeras’s examples, was ultimately subordinate to the authority of the nationalists, it is clear that the phenomenon of paramilitary violence in modern state formation across the globe is a topic that requires further research.
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Masculinity, Shell Shock, and Emotional Survival in the First World War

Masculinity, Shell Shock, and Emotional Survival in the First World War

masculinities. Meyer’s Men of War: Masculinity and the First World War in Britain (2009) examines a range of ‘personal narratives’ – letters home from the front, wartime diaries, letters of condolence, letters from disabled servicemen to the Ministry of Pensions, and post-war memoirs – to explore ‘how British serviceman who fought in the First World War used their experience to define themselves as men, both in relation to other men and to women’ (p. 2). She argues that two identities emerge most clearly as masculine ideals in these texts, the domestic and the heroic, and that these identities were central to social definitions of appropriate masculinity during and after the war although they were also fraught with tension for individual men. Her focus is therefore on the construction of male identities in different narrative forms, including the different ways in which the expression of these identities was affected by the audience being addressed. Although Meyer only makes a few explicit comments on his work, Michael Roper is one of the historians who have done most to establish and invigorate the modern history of masculinities in Britain. The volume of essays he co-edited in 1991 with John Tosh, Manful Assertions: masculinities in Britain since 1800 was an important text in confirming within the mainstream of historical thought the notion of masculinity as historically and culturally constructed. Now Roper is once again at the forefront of his field in moving beyond cultural construction. Since the beginning of the decade, he has published a series of articles on the First World War and memory, masculinity, and subjectivity which have explored the immediate and lasting emotional and psychological repercussions of the war for individuals and their families.(16) The Secret Battle: emotional survival in the Great War (2009) extends and deepens this research.
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The First World War Centenary in the UK: ‘A Truly National Commemoration’?

The First World War Centenary in the UK: ‘A Truly National Commemoration’?

the First World War, the position of historians as the primary mediators of nationhood through the articulation of national history has been gradually superseded by at least two ‘memory booms’ widely embraced by nation-states and their citizens alike. Emergent memory cultures have stimulated public discourse and transformed how past events are remembered, interpreted and articulated. Winter argues the initial ‘memory boom’ was a response to the trauma of the First World War and sought to fortify and elevate national identities in an imperial age through war commemoration projects. However he believes that a second ‘memory boom’ emerged in late 1960s, founded on revisionist approaches that fractured national ideological and cultural frameworks of collective war remembrance. Winter’s ‘memory boom’ thesis is important in developing understanding of the centrality of the First World War in shaping contemporary approaches to war commemoration. As ‘collective’ national forms of memory are intimately connected with the present, they are susceptible to instrumentalisation, manipulation and politicisation. This is, according to Pierre Nora (2011), increasingly realised through on-going public debate about the content and purpose of history in which historians have been peripheralised. While history was once a political activity that supported the nation, it has become politicised in sustaining divergent ideological constructions of the present. These so-called ‘history’ or ‘memory’ wars have become a persistent feature of public discourse in many states including the UK, and are typically linked to broader politicised debates about political, social, economic and cultural citizenship and identity. They reveal a shared belief amongst protagonists that states have the potential to articulate and inculcate homogenous collective identities founded on particularistic interpretations of the national past.
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