A War Imagined: The First World War And English Culture

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A War Imagined: The First World War And English Culture

By Samuel Hynes
Atheneum, 1991
512 pp. $27.50

A well-known scholar tackles one of the major themes of the century: How was the Great War-unprecedented in its grimness-perceived, understood and remembered? Hynes has written a sensitive study of British responses to the war and presents a successful blend of literary and historical scholarship largely based on a comprehensive reading of the vast literary and artistic representations created during and after the war. The government's efforts at control and propaganda are depicted, and the significance of the monuments that commemorated the fallen are discussed as well. He richly documents what was generally known: thoughts of the war divided and transformed British culture and, by the end of the 1920s, the war's mythical memory induced a pacifistic, skeptical mood in a country deeply wounded and about to face another of the war's consequences-Hitler's determination to reverse the verdict of that war by waging yet another.

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