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What Happened To The Writers Who Were In World War I

Itamar recently introduced me to Cat and Girl. I’ve added a permanent link under “Fellow Travellers,” but I thought I’d also specifically link to this thought about war that I haven’t seen elsewhere. (I know, I know… I said I was going to bed. but I wanted more Cat and Girl.)

3 Comments

  1. Roger wrote:

    There’s lots to say about this, but my nutshell version is: What the Girl says to the Cat about WWI and literature is just not true. Yes, Virginia Woolf was not a trench soldier (nor Eliot, nor Joyce) — that’s incontestable. But the poetry of WWI is pretty well established as part of “the Canon,” however you want to define and/or capitalize that. (I go by the Norton Anthology, which, if memory serves, has a special section dedicated to WWI poetry.) Wilfred Owen, Sassoon, et al are widely recognized as contributors to the birth of literary modernism, and the impact of the war on Eliot, for instance, among other members of the “Lost Generation,” is not in dispute (think of reading “The Waste Land” without any reference to the war — it would be incomprehensible).

    Yes, Sassoon et al. were always concerned with the war in their work — but so were the noncombatant “great” modernists, who equally “were never quite able to write about anything else.”

    I don’t know what she means by “The literary was secondary to the historical, and they couldn’t escape it.” But any sense I can make of that seems equally true for (a) the non-combatant modernists and (b) us now or (c) anybody anytime.

    Maybe I’m being pedantic, but I don’t think that account of literary history holds water — if I want to get history from a comic strip, I stick to Tom Tomorrow.

    Tuesday, February 18, 2003 at 2:41 pm | Permalink
  2. Roger wrote:

    (Or Art Spiegelman and “Maus.” Or David Rees and “Get Your War On.” Et cetera. No sleight to other comics with political-historical content.)

    Tuesday, February 18, 2003 at 2:43 pm | Permalink
  3. gus wrote:

    Thank you. We have been duly “taken to school.” :)

    Thursday, February 20, 2003 at 10:41 am | Permalink

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