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Valar Qringaomis

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Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Confusing Literary Truth with Real Truth: the Horrors of the First World War

Morality of Remembrance - Moral Maze, 06/11/2013

"I was interested in Michael Montperlego (sp?) saying, you know, go to the words of the people who were there. I've actually done quite a bit of this at the Imperial War Museum, going through people's diaries and so on. The Owen-Sassoon view of the war - powerful, amazingly powerful though their poetry - Owen's particularly was, was exceptional, actually. Because if you read most of the diaries, there's a much more upbeat, robust, patriotic - an entirely different mindset than what we impose on them..."

"Over the years, it does begin in the 1930s, when people can see there's going to be a Second World War, which makes the First World War appear more futile than it did before. But then very much in the 60s, with What Lovely War and so on... there has been, you know, a revision of the way that war is seen. That is to say it is seen differently from the way it was seen by most people at the time. And therefore I entirely agree with Hugh Straughn (sp?) that the next 5 years is an opportunity to get some balance into the way that we look at the war"

"I think it is true as well that a lot of children - I love Wilfred Owen, and I know, English teacher I've done the First World War poetry lessons like everyone else and had them crying in the aisles as they say. And it's beautiful. And poignant, and you feel it does make young people understand something about the things that we can do to each other. But, I've also got to say that there wasn't many mutinies in the British Army, I have to admit. I do feel uncomfortable. But it's almost like the only version. And although I am an anti-Imperialist, I would've opposed the war. I don't want us to have a kind of soft soaped, one-dimensional view of it"

"And I suppose we ought to remember that the most popular war poet until about 1930 was Rupert Brooke"

***


If I should die, think only this of me;
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.

--- The Soldier / Rupert Brooke (1914)
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