Writers in uniform

Jonathan Atkin

in A War of Individuals

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780719060700
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781700105 | DOI:
Writers in uniform

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In our search for reflections of aesthetic response to the Great War across barriers of experience, the soldier, poet and author Richard Aldington is a good example of John Galsworthy's identification of the human spirit under the pressure of a seemingly mechanised military existence (the ‘herd of life’). He introduces a series of creative men who actually donned a uniform at some stage (though not always willingly) and fought at the front. Gerald Brenan was another fledgling writer in uniform who, like Aldington, felt his soul threatened by the strictures of war. Unlike Brenan, the poet Max Plowman declared his anti-war feelings and suffered a court martial. For Plowman and others, the experience of being within the war machine acted both as a compass towards and a justification of his later anti-war stance. Two further examples of this process concerned possibly the most celebrated poets of the war: Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. Robert Graves's concern was with the outward effect of an anti-war protest on the very individuals whom Siegfried Sassoon was supposedly trying to influence.

Keywords: Great War; Richard Aldington; poets; anti-war protest; Gerald Brenan; Siegfried Sassoon; Wilfred Owen; Robert Graves; Max Plowman; John Galsworthy

Chapter.  16189 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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