War and the Children

Glenn Watkins

in Proof through the Night

Published by University of California Press

Published in print December 2002 | ISBN: 9780520231580
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520927896 | DOI:
War and the Children

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In wartime Paris, the offices of the various charities that registered and distributed tickets for food, clothing, and lodging were frequently manned by writers and artists. One of the most important of these charities, the Children of Flanders Rescue Committee, was organized in 1915 by Edith Wharton. Wharton's overall commitment and generosity were hardly to be questioned, and it was in order to sustain these charities through the winter of 1915–1916 that she determined to compile Le livre des sans-foyer (The Book of the Homeless). At about the same time as Wharton was compiling her anthology Claude Debussy, now ravaged with cancer, took up his pen once more to write the text and music of his last completed composition, “Noël des enfants qui n'ont plus de maisons.” Throughout the Great War, the effects of the conflict on children fostered a potent imagery, and numerous acts of heroism, both real and imagined, proliferated. During the war, France may have produced “the first grand moral and intellectual mobilisation of the concept of childhood in the field of European politics.”.

Keywords: France; children; Great War; charities; Edith Wharton; Claude Debussy; childhood; imagery; heroism

Chapter.  6694 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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