Tuesday, July 24, 2012

World War I Plays To Receive First Revival

Probably better reflections of public perceptions than reading the poets.

In association with Twisted Events Theatre Company, the University of Hertfordshire presents the first professional revival of the World War I plays ‘For My Country’ by Berte Thomas (1917) and ‘The Pacifist’ by John Brandon (1918).


These short plays, which have not been seen since they were first performed in London theatres during the First World War, will re-introduce the audience to a missing dimension of life on the Home Front.

The production is part of the project Staging World War I, run from the School of Humanities at the University of Hertfordshire. Led by Dr Andrew Maunder, the project will take forgotten World War I plays into schools and the local community.

Dr Andrew Maunder said: “We tend to forget that in 1914-18 more people went to the theatre than read poetry but it’s the poetry which has been remembered. The plays, though, give us a real sense of how the War was presented to people and the issues at stake. They’re powerful pieces of theatre designed to move an audience but also to scare them, exploiting fears about spies, traitors and the enemy within.”

Brought back to life as the centenary of the War approaches, the plays offer another perspective on the War to that of well-known poets such as Rupert Brooke, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen.

World War I Plays To Receive First Revival | Cision Wire

Monday, July 16, 2012

‘Touch and Intimacy in First World War Literature’ « Amitav Ghosh

From a review of an unusual book,

First World War writing is an old interest of mine so when I came upon a book with the intriguing title

‘Touch and Intimacy in the First World War I picked it up at once.

The writer had an Indian-sounding name, Santanu Das, but I had never heard of him before.

The book’s first chapter is called ‘Slimescapes’ and it is about the ways in which First World War writers dealt with the tactile experience of trench warfare. ‘In everyday trench life, the boundaries of the body can no longer be policed, as bodily fluids are perpetually on the brink of spillage. In Blasting and Bombardiering, the officer breaks wind at the sound of shelling; men vomit as they collect corpses in Graves’s Goodbye to All That and Cloete’s A Victorian Son. Winterbourne defecates in his trousers in Death of a Hero, as does the young boy in Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front.  Just as bodily fluids leak out, similarly mud and slime seep in: CĂ©line speaks of ‘eating Flanders mud, my whole mouth full of it, fuller than full’; in ‘A Night of Horror’, the narrator writes: ‘The suffocating mud and slime/ Were trickling down my throat’. Remarque, towards the end of his novel, observes: ‘Our hands are earth, our bodies mud and our eyes puddles of rain.’ Membrances have become permeable: the skin can no longer separate the inside and outside, the self and the world.’ (p. 52)

I read the book at a stretch, finishing it in a couple of sittings (I don’t think this has ever happened to me before with a book of literary criticism). But one thing puzzled me: if the writer was Indian, as his name suggested, why had he made no reference to the one million Indians who were on the Western front during the First World War? Was this deliberate and if so why?

‘Touch and Intimacy in First World War Literature’ « Amitav Ghosh

Michigan War Studies Review of Sean McMeekin’s: The Russian Origins of the First World War

Opening paragraph to a wonderful review of a must read book.

To judge by the passionate intensity of his writing, Sean McMeekin means not only to restore analytical balance to the long neglected question of Russia's role in the First World War, but also to remedy what he sees as a moral outrage—namely, the historical free pass given the Russian statesmen who (as he sees it) unleashed the violence of the war, the brutalities of the Russian Revolution, and the heavy historical shadow cast by Nazi Germany having led generations of indulgent historians to overlook the blood on Russian hands. Though prone to overstating his case, McMeekin has produced a beautifully written book based on an extraordinary range of sources in several languages. It deserves a wide readership.

Michigan War Studies Review - book reviews, literature surveys, original essays, and commentary in the field of military studies