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The Last War: The Legacy Of The First World War In 1940s British Fiction

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Chapter Summary

Whilst the period between 1929 and 1933 is often seen as the high-water mark for the appearance of depictions of the First World War in British writing, the outbreak of a new war did not completely obfuscate the earlier conflict. This chapter examines how the relationship between the personal histories of different generations in the same family was used by authors to facilitate the identification of either the disjunctions between or the commonalities shared by the two wars. It shows how attitudes towards the First World War as both a historical event and a literary trope developed during the 1940s. Issues including the conduct of the military campaign, the involvement of non-combatants, and the re-absorption of ex-servicemen into civilian life are then emphasised in different ways over the course of the decade.

Keywords: British writing; civilian life; ex-servicemen; First World War; military campaign; non-combatants

10.1163/ej.9789004166585.i-383.66
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