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Title: A comparison of some French and English literary responses to the 1914-1918 War
Author: Kerr, Douglas
ISNI:       0000 0001 3597 6167
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1978
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This thesis proposes a comparative study of some imaginative responses to the Great War in English and French writing. The principal works discussed range from Peguy's anticipation of the war in his poem Eve (1913) to David Jones's recreative memory of it in his poem In Parenthesis (1937). The survey is limited to British and French works, and does not include American and colonial contributions, or the war-writings of other combatant countries. The thesis examines the various ways in which twelve authors - six English and six French - developed and expressed their individual response to the Great War. It is not based on an imaginary anthology of the dozen best war-writings. The twelve examples have been chosen to illustrate and cover as wide a range as possible of the ways the historical experience could be met and interpreted in literature. They include writings by civilians, and by commissioned and non-commissioned soldiers; narrative and discursive prose, essays, letters, and verse. The first chapter considers the war-writings of Rupert Brooke, H. G. Wells and T. E. Hulme; and the second chapter discusses the work of Charles Peguy, Henri Barbusse and Jacques Vache. Chapter 3 is concerned with three novels, by Jean Cocteau, Richard Aldington, and Proust. In the second half of the work, a chapter each is given to Wilfred Owen, Guillaume Apollinaire and David Jones. War-writings by definition include history, and even those most innocent of a propaganda intention are likely to betray an interpretation of history, as well as having some documentary value and, at a less visible level, enacting a private drama. The literature of the Great War, considered as a sub-genre, is the product both of shared and of individual, intimate experience. The purpose of this study has been to suggest the variety of possible literary responses to the Great War; to discover what these responses are likely to have in common, and thus to offer a sketch-map of the topography of the 1914-1918 war in English and French writing; and, by locating these works in a context of European literature as well as of world history, to allow each text discussed reciprocally to illuminate and criticise the others.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: D501 World War I ; PQ Romance literatures ; PR English literature