‘Between the Bullet and the Lie’

Patricia Rae

in The Oxford Handbook of the Elegy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199228133
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

 ‘Between the Bullet and the Lie’

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This article states that the inter-war poets were determined to stake their place in history, positively to document their self-consciousness about elegiac writing with a steely determination to enter a history reflectively recognized as historic. The elegies considered belong to an interval whose place was felt even as it was being lived. The article also explores how some representative examples negotiate the choices of elegiac discourse then available to them. It outlines some of the distinctive characteristics of the two inherited strains of elegy, since these form the raw materials for the interwar elegists' bricolage. George Orwell's elegy, like Tom Wintringham's ‘Monument’ and W. H. Auden's famous elegy for Yeats, is a memorial with a more general warning about the dangers of memorializing embedded within it. George Barker's resolution for himself is to repudiate transcendent language of all kinds.

Keywords: British elegy; elegiac writing; George Orwell; Tom Wintringham; W. H. Auden; George Barker; war

Article.  8733 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (20th Century onwards) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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