English / How Ww1 Changed British Literature

How Ww1 Changed British Literature

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Autor:  anton  30 September 2010
Tags:  Changed,  British,  Literature
Words: 1954   |   Pages: 8
Views: 641

World War One began on July 28, 1914 and ended with the signing of the armistice on November 11, 1918. The war cost a total of one hundred eighty-six billion dollars. The total casualties of the war were thirty-seven million, with another eleven million civilian casualties. The British Empire alone lost over three million people in the war. (English) World War One effected the whole world- the heartache and bloodshed changed politics, economics, and public opinion. This war changed people's lives, but it also changes their way of thinking and their way of writing. After World War One British literature was changed from simple stories to a more realistic and meaningful approach to life.

Nineteenth century England is what most historians call the Victorian age, which is how British literature got started. It was during the Victorian age that people began to learn how to read and write. “In 1837 about half of the adult male population could read and write; by the end of the century, literacy was almost universal.” (Abrams) The novel became the most popular form of literature during this time period in England. “Victorian novels seek to represent a large and comprehensive social world, with the variety of classes and social settings that constitute a community.” (Abrams) The authors of these novels tried to make the reader feel like the characters and the events that take place in the novel seem so realistic that they could see it happening in real life.

The novels were written about concerns, or issues, that the everyday person went through. The novels usually dealt with experiences with the relationship in the middle-class or inter-class relationships. Life during the Victorian age is explained in The Norton Anthology as, “a society where the material conditions of life indicate social position, where money defines opportunity, where social class enforces a powerful sense of stratification, yet where chances for class mobility exist.” (Abrams) Victorian novels usually were focused on a persons struggle to find his or herself in the cruel world of social classes. These types of novels were often written during the Victorian age, in fact Charles Dickens wrote a novel called Great Expectations in 1861, which dealt with a boy named Pip and how he finds his place in the world.

There were many good writers during that time period. Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy and H. G. Wells all wrote novels during the Victorian age and they all have a different style about them that makes them worth noting. Charles Dickens was the reason that the new spirit of realism came along in the nineteenth century. Dickens's novels of contemporary life exhibit an amazing ability to create living characters. Also, Dickens is known for his different style of humor and parody. Thomas Hardy wrote about other people’s encounters with fate and circumstances, his outlook on life seems pessimistic when you read most of his novels. “Wells's novels often seem to be sociological investigations of the ills of modern civilization rather than self-contained stories.” (English) H.G. Wells wrote novels based on his experiences in life, he wrote about what he thought would go wrong or what was wrong with the society that he was surrounded by.

Poets of the nineteenth century tried to tell stories through poetry. They also experimented with perspective and character. “‘Amours de Voyage’ is a long epistolary poem that tells the story of a failed romance through letters written by various characters.” (Abrams) “Amours de Voyage” is an example of how Victorian poets tried to play with their characters. Victorian poets tried to make their story come alive by using great detail, this way the reader could draw a visual picture from the words on the paper. This picture that the author creates carries the emotion of the entire poem. The sound that a poem had during this time made all the difference. The way that a poet used alliteration, emphasis and different vowel sounds changed the flow of the poem. The poet could either have the poem flow smooth or rough. Many poets tried to capture these aspects, but only a few did it well.

The three notable poets of the Victorian age became similarly absorbed in social

issues. Beginning as a poet of pure romantic escapism, Alfred, Lord Tennyson,

soon moved on to problems of religious faith, social change, and political power.

All the characteristic moods of his poetry, from brooding splendor to lyrical

sweetness, are expressed with smooth technical mastery. His style, as well as his

peculiarly English conservatism, stands in some contrast to the intellectuality and

bracing harshness of the poetry of Robert Browning. Matthew Arnold, the third of

these mid-Victorian poets, stands apart from them as a more subtle and balanced

thinker- his literary criticism is the most remarkable written in Victorian times. His

poetry displays a sorrowful, disillusioned pessimism over the human plight in

rapidly changing times, a pessimism countered, however, by a strong sense of duty.

(English)

World War One was an event that changed literature throughout England and the world. People felt lost, broken and disheveled after the war. This is obvious when you see the change in literature after the war. Literature after the war, or post-war literature, is different from the literature during the Victorian age. “The optimism of previous decades was abandoned and a bleak, pessimistic outlook on life was adopted after people had experienced the brutality of warfare.” (Karpilovsky) The traditional values of Western civilization, which the Victorians had only begun to question, came to be questioned seriously by a number of new writers, who saw society breaking down around them. Traditional literary forms were often discarded, and new ones succeeded, as writers sought fresher ways of expressing themselves and their experiences.

“Aldous Huxley best expressed the sense of disillusionment and hopelessness in the period after World War one in his Point Counter Point (1928). This novel is composed in such a way that the events of the plot form a contrapuntal pattern that is a departure from the straightforward storytelling technique of the realistic novel.” (Clayton) Other authors tried to get away from pessimistic thinking and wrote what they had always been writing, like D. H. Lawrence. D. H. Lawrence wrote with obvious symbolism and straightforward preaching. His message broke the bonds of realism and replaced them with his own creative ideas.

There were many other excellent novelists that became famous during the period of post-war literature. James Joyce was an author that used an unorthodox and an unprecedented style when he wrote many of his novels. In his novel Ulysses he focused on the events of a single day and related them to one another in thematic patterns based on Greek mythology. James Joyce came to be known for using all different types of myths and traditions in his stories; this original style of writing is sometimes compared to the writing of Virginia Woolf. Virginia Woolf used a different technique than Joyce; she used a technique that has now been called stream-of consciousness. She imitated in her stories the experience of moment to moment action.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow / Between the crosses, row on row, / That mark

our place; and in the sky / The larks, still bravely singing, fly / Scarce heard amid

the guns below. / We are the Dead. Short days ago / We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset

glow, / Loved and were loved, and now we lie, / In Flanders fields. / Take up our

quarrel with the foe: / To you from failing hands we throw / The torch; be yours to

hold it high. / If ye break faith with us who die / We shall not sleep, though poppies

grow / In Flanders fields. (McCrae)

John McCrae wrote this poem, which is one of the most memorable war poems ever written in May of 1915, called “In Flanders Field.” He wrote this poem after a battle had taken place on a field and the field was run down and full of bodies. The picture that the poem paints for someone that did not participate in the war is a realistic but bloody one. Everything on the field was dead and the only things that were alive were the poppy plants. The significance of the poppies makes the poem what it is today. Poppy only grows in a field, but not just a field, a field with nothing but dirt and space. Everything that was living on that field, that day had died, which enabled the poppy plants to grow. This is a perfect example of a poem written by a person that was involved with World War One that describes the absolute horror of a battlefield.

George Orwell was an author that wrote about the fate of society, which was usually located in his nonfiction books. Orwell also wrote a book on the life in the coal-mining regions of northern England during the Great Depression called The Road to Wigan Pier. The poetry of this time period changed dramatically from what was written in past years.

Poetry became morbid and full of sadness, although it was the reality of the time. After the war depression struck most of the globe and this is evident in the poetry that was written. “The brutal turn poetry would take in the works of [Wilfred] Owen and [Siegfred] Sassoon.” (Rubert) Much of the harsh, gruesome poetry came from Owen and Sassoon, who were actually, interestingly enough, bedmates at a hospital during the war. The reason their poetry was so unbelievably moving was the fact that both of them were in the war and they saw the mayhem firsthand. (Wilfred) “An officer in World War One, he [Sassoon] expressed his conviction of the brutality and waste of war in grim, forceful, realistic verse.” (Siegfred) These two poets alone changed British literature, but they couldn’t have done that without World War One and the pain and suffering, which all people felt.

A world war and a depression can put any one down, but what the writer of the twentieth century did was turn that anger, that hate around into realistic, hard-hitting writing. No one likes to remember World War One and the killing that went on, however people always want to talk about the writings of Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence and H. G. Wells. These writers were so successful at what they did because they wrote down on paper what everyone was feeling in the world, whether it was anger or sorrow. Even though World War One was a gruesome event it caused people to question their opinions and made for great literature.



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