World War I

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World War I

  1. 1. World War I:<br />The “Trench Poets”<br />
  2. 2. World War I<br />a rupture with the past. <br />The multiplying technological, artistic, and social changes at the turn of the twentieth century<br />no event so graphically suggested that human history had "changed, changed utterly," as World War I - "the Great War." <br />
  3. 3. World War I<br />Great Britain& Germany,:<br />entered the war with idealistic aims. <br />Prime Minister H. H. Asquith put the justice of the British case this way in a speech to the House of Commons on 7 August 1914: <br />"I do not think any nation ever entered into a great conflict (and this is one of the greatest that history will ever know) with a clearer conscience or stronger conviction that it is fighting not for aggression, not for the maintenance of its own selfish world." <br />But cynicism set in quickly:<br />first among ground troops on the Western Front<br />dug into trenches and watching "progress" that could only be measured in yards per day. <br />
  4. 4. World War I – Turns Sour<br />Soon the British public became disillusioned with the war effort, <br />partly as a result of technological advances in the news media. <br />Daily papers in England carried photographs from the front<br />editorial policy generally supported the British government and printed heroic images of the fighting<br />this sanitized version of the war was largely offset by the long published lists of casualties<br />Britain, which in the previous century had fought substantially smaller wars with a compact professional volunteer army, <br />found this force drastically depleted within the first years of World War One,<br />necessitating the instatement of a draft<br />during the four years and three months that Britain was involved in the war:<br /> more than a million British troops -- an average of fifteen hundred per day, were killed in action.<br />contributed to the eventual loss of nearly a generation of young men.<br />http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SIBKtFfOR3I&feature=related<br />
  5. 5. World War I – Lasting Legacy<br />lasting legacy:<br />a sense of bitterly rebuffed idealism, <br />a suspicion of progress, technology, government:<br /> bureaucracy, nationalism, and conventional morality<br />themes probed in new ways by the period's writers. <br />Just as the war had involved radically new strategies and new technologies, <br />writers intensified their search for new forms and modes of expression as they and their compatriots found themselves in the midst of a conflict unlike anything previously known in the annals of history.<br />
  6. 6. The Trench Poets<br />Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg, et al:<br /> are often spoken of together as "the war poets." <br />Although they are stylistically very different <br />Sassoon's bitterly ironic poems often break into black humor<br />Owen is at once disciplined and deeply moving<br />all respond to the unprecedented and traumatic experience of trench warfare with poetry that breaks with earlier conventions. <br />Just as the experience of no previous war could be compared to the monstrous insanity of World War I:<br />nothing in previous English poetry could prepare readers for the passionate, angry, and disturbing verse that flowed from the pens of poets at the front. <br />
  7. 7. Trench Poets<br />Creative minds searching for new modes of expression in the midst of an unprecedented crisis. <br />Blueprint: <br />The modes of expression pioneered in the atmosphere of doubt, anxiety and instability of the late Victorian era<br />this generation of writers began to comprehend the unparalleled scope of the conflict<br />urgency forced them to create their own innovations in form and perspective.<br />
  8. 8. Trench Poets<br />A new graphic realism sprang from the need to bring home vividly to an uninformed public that this was a different kind of war<br />one without room for traditional heroism or blind patriotism. <br />Biting irony grew from the sundering of ennobling military ideals from reality<br />new poetic form evolved from the need to echo the asynchronous rhythms of a long and complicated conflict:<br />a fresh, intensely empathetic but anti-heroic way of looking at the warrior’s lot <br />came out of the contrast between what the conscript was led to expect:<br />while on native soil <br />and his actual, ever-worsening plight on the stalemated European front line.<br />During the war, the work of the poets served as a wake-up call and a warning to the civilian population back home<br />in the great conflict’s immediate aftermath, the writings of the memoirists joined with the poetry in carrying on the anti-war mission to forestall such an event from ever happening again.<br />
  9. 9. Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918)<br />1890 in Bristol, England. <br />His father and mother, had recently arrived from Russia and settled in London's Jewish ghetto. <br />Father spent the remainder of his life as an itinerant peddler. <br />Isaac grew up in extreme poverty and worked in the afternoons as an apprentice engraver. <br />In the evening, however, he pursued art and by 1907 he had enrolled in night classes at Birkbeck College. <br />Showed talent as a painter <br /> number of student awards <br />allowed him in 1911 to receive a sponsorship for the Slade School, <br />an important center for English painting.<br />
  10. 10. Rosenberg<br />Slade School, <br />Rosenberg's interests gravitated increasingly towards poetry. <br />began to send his poems to editors and journals<br />1912 at his own expense he published Night and Day. <br />This twenty-four-page pamphlet showed a strong Romantic influence:<br /> particularly from the poems of Keats and Shelley.<br />In 1913 Rosenberg's health began to fail<br />spent the following year in Cape Town, South Africa. <br />He returned to England in 1915 and again self-published a pamphlet of the poems he had written in the preceding two years. <br />This pamphlet, entitled shows Rosenberg developing a more distinctive and mature style. <br />
  11. 11. Rosenberg<br />Lacking any job prospects and with the war in Germany heating up, Rosenberg decided to enlist <br />He was sent to the Western Front in 1916, and would never rise above the rank of Private.<br />Rosenberg was a delicate and small man in poor health and found himself in an army rife with anti-Semitism.<br /> Ironically, he developed under these circumstances into one of the finest poets of his generation. <br />His poems from this time rival those of England's most famous "trench poets"—Wilfred Owen, Robert Graves, and Rupert Brooke. <br />On April 1, 1918, while on night patrol<br />Rosenberg was killed in battle. His body was never found. <br />His poems were posthumously collected and published in London in 1922.<br />In 1979 all of his work was gathered and published in The Collected Works of Isaac Rosenberg: Poetry, Prose, Letters, Painting, and Drawings (Oxford University Press).<br />
  12. 12. Isaac Rosenberg<br />“Break of Day in the Trenches”<br />Themes: <br />War reduces civilization to a subhuman level,<br /> soldiers from opposing sides share common experience<br />war is the enemy.<br />
  13. 13. “Break of Day…”<br />rapid staccato bursts <br />images are introduced in at the beginning of the poem: <br />dissolving darkness<br />the universe’s endless time<br />yanked poppy. <br />a “queer sardonic rat” <br />what effect does this unexpected form produce?<br />British and German soldiers are not mortal enemies, <br />but men who share the indignities and dangers of war. <br />Physically connected by this lowly creature, the soldiers are confined to their respective holes, <br />ignominiously “[s]prawled in the bowels of the earth” while the rat runs free (line 17). <br />Rather than displaying manly heroism, the men endure the passive victimhood<br />
  14. 14. “Break of Day…” The Rat <br />Exhausted and paralyzed by fear as the “shrieking iron and flame” of shells sail over their heads (line 20)<br />the men “quaver,” each with a “heart aghast” (line 22)<br />vivid contrast to the idealized picture of war. <br />The words applied to the rat, moreover—”sardonic,” “droll,” “cosmopolitan”—besides signaling the attitude of the poem as a whole, suggest something else. <br />Just as his plague-carrying ancestors came to be seen as malevolent symbols of pestilence and death,<br /> the sardonic, disinterested rat too may signify the presence of death.<br />Imagining the rat’s eye view, with its knowing “[inward] grin,” the poet goes beyond the exposition of a single event and seems to capture a general, comprehensive view of the essence of the Great War<br />not a view of glorious martial tableaux <br />but of all participants being eyed and taken note of by Death (line 13).<br />In the company of beings, flesh and vegetable, doomed to “Drop, and . . . ever dropping,” the rat is truly the only “a live thing” on the scene (lines 24, 33).<br />
  15. 15. Break of Day…creepy video<br />http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zcpoAYNfhsE<br />
  16. 16. Wilfred Owen<br />1893-1918<br />Owen is arguably the most famous English war poet.<br />Born at Oswestry in Shropshire of mixed English and Welsh ancestry, <br />he was well-educated, and worked as a private tutor in France prior to the outbreak of the World War I. <br />In 1915, he enlisted in the Artists' Rifles, but, after some traumatic experiences, was diagnosed as suffering from shell shock<br />sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh for treatment.<br /> There he met Siegfried Sassoon, who encouraged him and helped with stylistic problems, <br />the result being that Owen's poetry would eventually be more widely acclaimed than that of his mentor<br />
  17. 17. Wilfred Owen<br />He was devastated by Sassoon's departure from Craiglockhart. <br />After leaving the hospital himself, he associated with members of the artistic circle into which Sassoon had introduced him, including Robert Ross and Robert Graves. <br />In 1918, after a period of recuperation, Owen returned to active service in France. <br />Irony: he was killed during the crossing of the Sambre-Oise Canal, only a week before the end of the war. <br />His mother received the telegram informing her of his death on Armistice Day. <br />
  18. 18. Wilfred Owen- “Strange Meeting”<br />Themes: <br />War’s savage ironies<br />the pity of war<br />the poet’s role in society<br />war is killing the poets<br />the soldier’s real enemy is not his counterpart on the other side of no man’s land, <br />but war itself.<br />
  19. 19. “Strange Meeting”<br />perfected the blend of realistic imagery and savage irony<br />introduced into war poetry by his friend Siegfried Sassoon, <br />Owen also declares the importance of a theme that will mark all war poetry after him<br />the unheroic, unglamorous “pity of War” <br />To Sassoon’s black satire Owen adds something more: <br />an attempt at a new kind of war poetry in which compassion mingles with tragedy. <br />“Strange Meeting” alludes to this approach when the ghostly enemy<br />poet, like Owen—laments his own death because he will not be able to impart his message<br />will instead leave “the truth untold, / The pity of war, the pity war distilled” <br />Note that Owen’s view of the common soldier stresses his victimhood<br />rather than the heroic attributes that earlier writers often stressed in military-themed poetry. <br />There is no place in Owen’s world for Victorian ideals:<br />the glory of individual sacrifice or the nobility of war.<br />
  20. 20. “Strange Meeting”<br />In the dissonant language of his mature poetry, Owen also diverges from his mentor Sassoon’s reliance on imagery as the foremost mode of anti-war critique<br />adding specific techniques of form and sound to express the unique horror of World War I. <br />Owen uses rhyme schemes that introduce a note of discord to frustrate the pleasures gained from the harmonious lyricism of traditional romantic elegy forms.<br />Owen’s use of pararhyme, a form of consonance in which identical consonant sounds precede and follow different vowels of which the second usually has a deeper tone. <br />Examples such as hall-Hell, groined-groaned, grained-ground, and moan-mourn add to the poem’s sense of discordance and incongruity. <br />Owen was an inspiration to later twentieth-century poets who sought new methods to express the turbulence of the period.<br />
  21. 21. “Dulce et Decorum Est…”<br />http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c49tRplMh-Y<br />
  22. 22. Siegfried Sassoon<br />September 8, 1886 - September 1, 1967<br />British poet and author. <br />became known as a writer of satirical anti-war verse during World War I, <br />later won acclaim for his prose work. <br />born in Matfield, Kent, to a Jewish father and English mother. <br />His father, Alfred, one of the wealthy Sassoon merchant family, was disinherited for marrying outside the faith<br />
  23. 23. Sassoon<br />Studied law and history from<br />dropped out of university without a degree, <br />and spent the next few years hunting, playing cricket, and privately publishing a few volumes of not very highly acclaimed poetry<br />At the beginning of the war, Sassoon rushed into service but was injured and put out of action before even leaving England. <br />In 1916, he joined the Royal Welch Fusiliers as a commissioned officer, <br />and was thus brought into contact with Robert Graves. <br />He soon became horrified by the realities of war, and the tone of his writing changed completely, partly under Graves' influence. <br />
  24. 24. Sassoon<br />brief periods of duty on the Western Front were marked by recklessly courageous actions, <br />including the single-handed capture of a German trench. <br />Despite having been decorated for bravery, he decided, in 1917, to make a stand against the conduct of the war. <br />
  25. 25. Sassoon<br />Military Cross into the river Mersey at the end of a spell of convalescent leave, <br />Sassoon declined to return to duty. <br />Instead, encouraged by pacifist friends such as Bertrand Russell and Lady Ottoline Morrell, he sent a letter to his commanding officer, which was forwarded to the press and read out in Parliament by a sympathetic MP.<br /> Rather than court-martial Sassoon, the military authorities decided that he was unfit for service, and sent him to Craiglockhart War Hospital near Edinburgh, where he was treated for war "neurosis" by psychiatrists. <br />The novel, Regeneration, by Pat Barker, is a fictionalised account of this period in Sassoon's life, and was made into a film starring Jonathan Pryce as W. H. R. Rivers, the psychiatrist responsible for Sassoon's recovery. <br />Rivers became a kind of surrogate father to the troubled young man, and his sudden death in 1922 was a major blow to Sassoon. <br />At Craiglockhart, Sassoon met Wilfred Owen, another poet who was eventually to exceed him in fame. It was thanks to Sassoon that Owen persevered in his ambition to write better poetry<br />
  26. 26. Sassoon<br />In 1933, to many people's surprise, <br />he married Hester Gatty, <br />who was many years his junior; <br />this action eventually brought him the status of parent which he had long craved. <br />Their only child, George, was born in 1936. <br />However, the marriage broke down after World War II. <br />Separated from his wife in 1945, Sassoon lived in seclusion at Heytesbury in Wiltshire. <br />
  27. 27. Robert Graves (1895-1985)<br />born in Wimbledon<br />received his early education at Charterhouse School and won a scholarship to Oxford University (St John's College). <br />With the outbreak of World War I he enlisted with the Royal Welch Fusiliers (RWF). <br />
  28. 28. Graves<br />The horror of his wartime experiences had a profound effect upon him<br />published his first volume of poems in 1916<br />later tried to suppress his war poetry. <br />At the Battle of the Somme in 1916 he received such serious injuries that his family were informed of his death. <br />However, he recovered, at the cost of permanent damage to his lungs, <br />spent the remainder of the war in England - despite his efforts to return to the front.<br />
  29. 29. Graves<br />In 1917, Graves played an important part in saving his fellow poet, Siegfried Sassoon, from a court martial<br />The two officers had become firm friends while serving with the RWF. <br />Through Sassoon, Graves encountered Wilfred Owen, whose talent he recognized. <br />Owen attended Graves's wedding to Nancy Nicholson in 1918. <br />
  30. 30. Graves<br />Following his marriage, Graves entered the University of Oxford, <br />attempted to make a living by running a small shop<br />the business soon failed. <br />In 1926 he took up a post at the University of Cairo<br />He founded the Seizin Press <br />In 1929 he moved with Riding to Deya, Majorca (Spain)<br />forced to leave in 1936 due to the Spanish Civil War. <br />He wrote his autobiography, Goodbye to All That (1929, revised by him and republished in 1957)<br />it proved a success but cost him many of his friends. <br />
  31. 31. Graves<br />In 1934 Graves published his most successful work, I, Claudius: <br />Using classical sources he constructed a complex and compelling tale of the life of the Roman emperor Claudius, <br />extended in the sequel Claudius the God (1943). <br />In 1939 Graves returned to England <br />In 1961 he became Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford, a post he held until 1966. <br />
  32. 32. Goodbye to All That<br />landmark anti-war memoir of life in the trenches during World War I. <br />Graves' disillusionment in the existence of traditional, stable values in European and English society. <br />He devotes a large part of the book to his experiences of the First World War, <br />where he gives a detailed description of trench warfare, including the tragic incompetence of the Battle of Loos. <br />secondhand description of the killing of German prisoners of war by British, Canadian and Australian troops. <br />he had not witnessed any incidents himself and knew of no large-scale massacres, <br />he knew of a number of incidents where prisoners had been killed individually or in small groups, <br />he believed that a large proportion of Germans who surrendered never made it to prisoner-of-war camps.<br />Graves was severely traumatized by his war experience. <br />After he was wounded, he endured a five day train journey amid squalor and unchanged bandages<br />The trench telephone scared him such that he never lived with the technology for the rest of his life (he received an electric shock because the line was struck by lightning). <br />Upon his return home, he describes being haunted by ghosts and nightmares. Laura Riding, Graves' lover, is credited with being a "spiritual and intellectual midwife" to the work, which made him famous.[2]<br />Graves heavily revised his book and re-published it in 1957 with many significant events and figures either excised or added.<br />
  33. 33. Goodbye<br />The primary themes :<br />coming of age<br />war and the military<br />the importance of class in British life, <br />the individual's quest for meaning in life.<br />When the War came, it proved more terrible, more dehumanizing than any dystopian fantasy, more damaging to the European political and social order than any prediction. <br />The writers who were to record it, found that they had to forgo all lyricism, sentimentality or romanticism. <br />The war was a crisis not simply for the subject matter of fiction - heroism and bravery, the value of the individual life and social history - but for its very power of representation.<br />
  34. 34. Goodbye<br />By the end of the decade, it had become clearer how little the war had achieved in creating European stability or worthwhile social change, <br />the climate of historical dismay, impotent outrage and anxious pessimism amongst Graves and his war contemporaries had greatly increased. <br />all the war had done was to leave its survivors and successors in a shattered, unmanageable, directionless world.<br />Graves himself describes his own shattered state on his return to civilian life:<br />“ I was still mentally and nervously organized for war; shells used to come bursting on my bed at midnight, even when Nancy was sharing it with me; strangers in day-time would assume the faces of friends who had been killed ... I was very thin, very nervous and had about four years' loss of sleep to make up ...if I saw more than two new people in a single day it prevented me from sleeping. I was ashamed of myself as a drag on Nancy ... I knew that it would be years before I was fit for anything besides a quiet country life.[1]<br />

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