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Literature after WWI

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Megan Dempsey

on 6 May 2014

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Transcript of Literature after WWI

Literature after WWI
Megan Dempsey
literature began to evolve after and during WWI with:
beginning stages of the war:
british poets such as Rudyard Kipling, Robert Bridges, John Masefield. With poems such as, For all we have and are, August 1914, and Wake up, England!.
Such poems expressed the desperation and grief present in the war, but all in different styles and ways.
outlook of perseverance during the war.
showed the heartache and sorrow present in the war.
showed happiness and determination for the end of the war, giving drive and endurance to the people.
World War I, more than any other war is closely related and associated with poetry. During this time, many authors began to evolve and become inspired by the horror and brutality of the war.
"The Happy Warrior", by Herbert Read:

His wild heart beats with painful sobs,
His strin'd hands clench an ice-cold rifle,
His aching jaws grip a hot parch'd tongue,
His wide eyes search unconsciously.

He cannot shriek.

Bloody saliva
Dribbles down his shapeless jacket.

I saw him stab
And stab again
A well-killed Boche.

This is the happy warrior,
This is he...
"Back" by Wilfred Gibson:

They ask me where I've been,
And what I've done and seen.
But what can I reply
Who know it wasn't I,
But someone just like me,
Who went across the sea
And with my head and hands
Killed men in foreign lands...
Though I must bear the blame,
Because he bore my name.
"This book is not about heroes. English poetry is not yet fit to speak of them. Nor is it about deeds, or lands, nor anything about glory, honor, might, majesty, dominion, or power, except War. Above all I am not concerned with Poetry. My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity. "
-Wilfred Owen
Literature began evolving and changing during and after WWI into the type of novels, poetry and fame associated with these, we know today. Many of the authors of the time became disillusioned by the war and it's aftermath, this destroyed their view and belief in traditional values. As a form of expressing this disillusionment, they broke new literary ground. Authors took advantage of the grief and despair within the war, and used it as a guide into this new world of literature.
T.S. Eliot's poems, "The Waste Land" and "The Hollow Men" expressed a sense of despair about life, using a patchwork style, using many different literary, religious, and historical references.

During this time, not only the emotion and feeling present in the poems and novels changed, but also writers of the time began experimenting with new literary techniques.
German Novelist Thomas Mann
Czech Novelist Franz Kafka
British Novelist Virginia Woolf

In terms of style and content, these writers showed and represented a sharp break in the literature of the past, and began the type of literature we see today.
In the aftermath of the war many participants published their personal diaries and memoirs.
The war had a big affect on the genre and style of novels that became published. Most of what was published then was about the war and it's affects.
Novels conveyed the authors concern of the horror of the war and the hopelessness of society.
The sharp break which happened with the style of poetry also happened with novels, romantic clichés were abandoned and became replaced by the truthful, real, styles of war and desperation.
The style of extreme realism, or very complex symbolism.
Markedly different styles were developed by American Authors:
Ernest Hemingway: Lean, straightforward style in "The Sun Also Rises"
Fitzgerald: elaborate, poetic style in "The Great Gatsby".

Years before, James Joyce marked the period of changing literary styles with "Ulysses", which served as a landmark in the development of what we call the modern novel. With the influence of Freud, Joyce developed a style which is known as "stream of consciousness", which showed not only the external actions of the characters, but also the inner thoughts.
Today, literature is a totally different concept in society than it was in the past. Today, an author can become famous for something they write, and many authors and book series even have fan-bases. In the past, literature and writing was something that did not bring fame or fortune, and the authors of the past could lead normal lives, without having the "responsibilities" the authors of today have, such as interviews, book signings, book tours, movie deals, etc. One of the very first authors that became famous because of his books was J.D. Salinger. He hated his fame, and hid himself in his apartment after society started to know his name and he started to become famous.

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