The literary works of the First World War are one of the richest sources we have for understanding one of the twentieth century’s most significant conflicts. Not only do many of them have historical merit, but some were critically acclaimed by both contemporaries and subsequent scholars. For example, Henri Barbusse’s Under Fire, one of the earliest novels of the war, won accolades in France and the respect of war poets Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen as well as novelists Erich Maria Remarque and Ernest Hemingway.
This book examines these works and those of war poets Rupert Brooke and John McCrae and others, providing context as well as opportunities to explore thematic elements with primary source documents, such as diaries, letters, memoirs, newspaper and journal articles, speeches, and government publications. It is unique in its use of literary and historical sources as mediums by which to both better understand the literature of the war and use literature to better understand the war itself.
- Provides an overview of the First World War on the Western and Southern Fronts, allowing for a general understanding of the war and its effects on governments, armies, soldiers, and civilians
- Explores historical topics ranging from the challenges of waging and sustaining the war to the nature and strains of trench and attritional warfare to the "lived experiences" of soldiers, volunteers, and civilian populations and the ways in which the war was memorialized
- Discusses the significance of novels and poetry as a means to understand the war's challenges and complexities
- Examines one of the earliest and most important war novels (Henri Barbusse's Under Fire), a work that influenced more well-known classics by Erich Maria Remarque and Ernest Hemingway, and the war poetry of Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, also examined in this volume
- Includes primary sources from some of the war's most significant writers, such as Vera Brittain, Rebecca West, Ernst Jünger, and Bertrand Russell as well as government documents, war propaganda, and material from some of the physicians who treated shell shock