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Don't Eat With Your Mouth Full

Where can we live but days?

steepholm steepholm
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When the War was Over
My Awfully Big Blog Adventure post today is on the books that got written on the world wars, and the ones that didn't.
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Well, there were significant prose works written about the Great War while it was still being fought, but they've been pushed a little to one side.

H.G. Wells' Mr Britling sees it through deals mainly with the home front- including the aftermath of a Zeppelin attack- but also with the trenches. It was a best seller at the time and has been unfairly forgotten.

Then there are several stories by Kipling- including the horrific and extraordinary "Mary Postgate".

Oh, yes, I know and really like 'Mary Postgate'! I've not read the Wells, though I've heard of it.

Wells wrote an enormous number of books and only a handful of the early ones are still read. It's a shame. Some of the later ones are terrific.

The blogpost has reminded me that my paper for my undergraduate course on Gender and War was on representations of 20th century women's war services in children's fiction. Happy to email if you'd be interested to see bibliography etc.

Oh yes, I'd definitely like to see it - thanks!

This is a side-issue to your specific point, but two things come to mind:

1) Tom Shippey's point that The Lord of the Rings is a very, very long-delayed literary response to WW1.

2) Kingsley Amis's observation that the reason there were better war poets in WW1 than WW2 is that most of the better young poets weren't in military service. (I think they were a little less desperate for medically-dubious cannon fodder in the second war.) He's thinking particularly of Larkin and Wain; but Amis himself did serve.

I'm sure that's right about LotR. No doubt such experiences find indirect expression in genres other than memoir and realist fiction, but of course the cases aren't usually quite as clear cut.

Keith Douglas is the only significant WWII poet I can even think of, which I'm sure is an injustice to many others. Larkin's myopia would surely have kept him out of all but the unfussiest armies: instead, he went to Wellington spent the last of his war years mooning about with my aunt.

I suppose that Amis's lack of consideration as a WW2 poet is probably due to his lack of specifically war poems. Though in the Army, he wasn't directly in combat, as far as I recall.

Wain wasn't drafted because he was basically blind in one eye.

Then there were the rather older, but still of military age, "Pylon poets." But I don't think any of them were in the military during the war.