No, I haven’t yet abandoned this blog/review project

Although this site has been dormant for the past six months (and barely active before then) due to a few review projects I had undertaken elsewhere, I do plan on writing about at least 50 essays on various novels, non-fiction, poetry, art, and cinema that touch upon the Great War/World War I.   One of the first things I will review is Erwin Mortier’s 2008 book, While the Gods Were Sleeping, the English translation of which will be published in the US in February.  I also plan to discuss the Library of America edition Barbara Tuchman’s The Guns of August and The Proud Tower, in part to examine how a mid-20th century classic stands up in the light of newer research.

Since the War was written about from the perspectives of participants of divers languages and cultures, I also hope in the coming weeks and months to discuss some of the non-English literature on the war.  Croat writer Miroslav Krleža’s Hrvatski Bog Mars (Croatian God Mars)’s component stories will be reviewed individually as I slowly continue my reading of the text (my knowledge of Serbo-Croatian is limited, so I have to look up a lot of words, but this has its benefits when it comes to a close reading of the text).  There will be other stories, novel and short story length, if not poetry as well, presented from the French, German, Italian, and Romanian sides as well, with possibly translations of Russian writers included as well in the years to come.

But I am in danger of putting the cart before the horse by listing what I hope to read and review before I actually begin this undertaking.  Hopefully by year’s end, World War I Literature, Art, and Cinema will begin to look more like the comprehensive survey of World War I material culture that I had envisioned when I began this blog nearly a year ago.

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Anna Hope, Wake (2014)

WakeAlthough there had been earlier wars, some of which spanned multiple continents and spread beyond the confines of the battlefields, World War I is the first “total war” that went global.  While young farmhands and factory workers bled on the killing grounds of the Somme and Ypres, hundreds of miles away, their families endured rationing of goods so that “their boys” could enjoy even a modicum of comfort in the trenches.  After four years and tens of millions dead or wounded, the horrors of World War I did not end with the November 11, 1918 armistice or the June 1919 Treaty of Versailles.  For those who had worked in munitions plants while their lovers rotted in No Man’s Land, the war still continued to take its terrible toll on their lives.

In her debut novel, Wake, British writer Anna Hope looks at the lives of three women during the five days in November 1920 between the disinterment of four “unknown soldiers” from battlefield cemeteries in France and Belgium, where the British Army had fought for possible future selection as the representative for the collective British dead, and the chosen corpse’s burial in Westminster.  Wake is a snapshot of immediate postwar life in Great Britain and the experiences of the three women, Ada, Evelyn, and Hettie, represent the spectrum of grief, frustration, and vague unease that a great many British women felt during the war and its immediate aftermath.

Wake is divided into five sections to match the five days leading up to the November 11, 1920 entombment of the “unknown soldier.”  Hope moves quickly between the three characters, developing their personalities in piecemeal fashion.  Ada, the oldest, is about to celebrate her 25th wedding anniversary, but she and her husband are still grieving over the death of their son.  The world has become a bitter place, tasting of ashes, and she wanders in a daze through large stretches of the novel, still unable to come to terms with her son’s death.  Evelyn, a 30 year-old spinster who lost her beau during the fighting, is perhaps the most intriguing of the three women.  Born into a wealthy family, she nonetheless goes to work in a munitions plant before obtaining work in pensions administration.  She is sharp, rather bristly on occasion, and in her can be seen a fount of hidden rage and frustration with the endemic sexism of early 20th century British society.  Hettie, the youngest at 19, has lost her father to the Spanish Influenza outbreak of 1918-1919.  She earns a pittance instructing men on how to dance and she is perhaps the most naïve, or maybe relentlessly optimistic would be a better descriptor.  Yet despite their very different social stations and attitudes toward life, each character is developed well.  Take for instance Evelyn’s observation of wounded veterans who plead for more assistance:

As her first man makes his way over toward her desk she gives him a swift look.  Amputee.  From the way his right trouser leg is pinned it looks as if it has been taken off all the way to the hip.  There’s no false leg; the stump was probably too small to fit against.  He takes his place on the seat before her.  It’s a game with her, to guess a man’s rank before he speaks.  In this post-khaki world, the extremes at either end of the scale are easy to spot, and have remained, so far as she can see, as rigid as they ever were, but the middle ground is different; it has not yet settled.  The temporary gentlemen are the trickiest:  those who were promoted from the ranks for their service in the field and are now stuck between society’s strata.  Temporary gentlemen:  such a mean-spirited little phrase; still, it just about sums it up.  This one, she is sure, is no gentlemen, temporary or otherwise; from his dress and bearing, he is a private through and through. (p. 83, iPad iBooks e-edition)

Evelyn’s job, evaluating the claims of disabled vets, forces her to view these former soldiers with suspicion, as it is her duty to force them to take as little pension as possible.  This shoddy treatment of returning veterans has parallels with the broken promises in other countries, such as the “Bonus Army” of 1932-1933 in the United States.  Hope’s introduction of this sad historical moment into her novel is understated but no less powerful for it not being a focal point of the novel.  What is also interesting is to see how casually social status matters.  Although mostly a foreign concept to Americans such as myself, social class certainly plays a role in how these women deal with the aftermath of their losses.  Whether it is a former second lieutenant berating Evelyn because his benefits were lowered after three years or another expressing surprise when she bought him a drink, these social differences make for some interesting character interactions.

Yet despite the often-wonderful character descriptions, Wake suffers from some curious weaknesses.  Although each character for the most part has a full character arc, there were times that the transitions between each woman felt disjointed, jolting me out of a few thematic reveries that I had about the nature of loss and suffering during war.  This is especially true toward the end, as the chosen exhumed body finally comes to rest.  These scenes of transportation, set off from the main narrative by italics, feel estranged.  Their serious, morose actions, however, do not receive quite the depth of scene development as those directly involving the three women.  Furthermore, as the body is led to its final resting place and the three women are in its proximity, there is little actual interaction, literal and metaphorical alike, between the women who are witnessing the arrival of the body.  In the end, these are three tales of postwar grief that remain too separated for their full range of emotion to have its full effect.

Despite these shortcomings, Wake manages to be a fast-paced, absorbing, character-centered novel whose explorations of the effects of World War I on the lives of three British women bring to life the “Home Front” accounts of a century ago.  It may not be a perfect novel, but even in its flaws, there is much to recommend it to readers, particularly those curious about the Home Front of World War I.

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Max Brooks, The Harlem Hellfighters (2014)

The Harlem HellfightersToo often those who did not participate in the fighting of World War I tried to sanitize it, make it something grander than tens of millions groveling in the mud, piss, and shit of the trenches of the Western and Southern European fronts or forcing their way through the woods of the Eastern Front.  Ideals such as “making the world safe for democracy” were often fed to the Doughboys, the raw American recruits who began arriving in France in late 1917 after the United States entered the war on the side of the Allies.  The books and movies that follow often would juxtapose this naive idealism with the shell bursts and splattered limbs of blasted soldiers.  But the front-line struggles often felt clichéd, something to be overcome on the way to victory than something that became an intrinsic part of a soldier’s life.

For African American soldiers, World War I took on a different face than that their white comrades saw.  If this were indeed a war to spread democracy, then what about the endemic racism that they experienced each and every day?  From the South’s segregation to the North and Midwest’s politer forms of discrimination, black enlistees into the American Expeditionary Force were reminded daily of the differences between being “free” and “equal”:  substandard food; poorer housing,; lack of basic supplies for their units; segregated units; having to use broomsticks instead of actual guns – each of these added to the staggering number of abuses and insults that these soldiers faced even before they boarded (segregated, of course) ship for France.

Yet despite all of this, African American soldiers acquitted themselves admirably in World War I.  One particular unit, the 369th Infantry Regiment, gained particular glory as they, fighting under French command, gained such a reputation that the Germans simply referred to them as “the Harlem Hellfighters.”  They were the first Allied unit of any nation or color to reach the Rhine River, and while they received a parade in February 1919 upon their return home to New York, their legacy has faded somewhat, due to greater emphasis placed on the individual heroism of soldiers like Alvin C. York as well as the still-entrenched racism of the time.

Acclaimed graphic novelist Max Brooks (World War Z) in his latest graphic novel, The Harlem Hellfighters, brings to life the experiences of the New York 369th.  Although many of the characters are fictionalized, several are based on historical figures who did serve in the US Army.  When the April 1917 call for volunteers went out, men of all backgrounds and origins answered the call.  Lawyers, ministers, bricklayers, recent immigrants from the Caribbean.  Each of them were united only by the color (or shades of color) of their skin.  They experienced hardships in camp and more when on leave during training in South Carolina.  Brooks and the illustrator Caanan White show these trials in concise yet memorable detail:

Harlem Hellfighters1The page image to the left is taken from p. 34.  Here we see the 369th lined up, but they have no uniforms; they are forced to train in their civilian clothes.  As the firearms are distributed to white soldiers, broomsticks are passed out to the regiment.  Even worse, the regiment has been warned about how to comport themselves when they go on leave from their training base in Spartanburg, South Carolina.  Another all-black unit recently got into a race riot in Texas and thirteen soldiers were hung for mutiny as a result.  Brooks and White tell this story of racist abuse leading to murderous violence straightforwardly, with the images of sneering Southerners inflaming the soldiers to violence in order to make a point about the perilous position of African American soldiers in 1917:  are you damned any which way you do it, but acting out makes you dead quicker.

The story quickly shifts to the 369th’s departure for France and the ignoble tasks that await them there until they are transferred to French command.  Brooks skimps on the details behind that transfer, making it seem that it might be part and parcel with the discriminatory actions taken against all-black units, but there are records that hint that this transfer might have been due more to manpower needs and less due to separating black and white American soldiers.  This is one of a few occasions where Brooks simplifies the order of events in order to make his narrative stronger.  This is not a condemnation of doing this, but rather a reminder that despite the heavy doses of historical fact and detail here, there is some necessary artistic license done in order to make the action hotter and heavier.

Harlem Hellfighters2The illustrations of the actual fighting convey well the confusion and violence of trench warfare.  The choice of illustrating everything in black and white does, however, make it difficult to discern characters from shell fire explosions, and there are times where the gore is perhaps too well-illustrated, as images of blown-up bodies take on a cartoonish quality on occasion.  This is perhaps the worst criticism that can be made of the illustrations, as for the most part, White’s illustrations add a sense of gravitas to the story that Brooks is telling.

Brooks on the whole does an outstanding job of creating memorable characters, even if some of these appear only on a handful of pages.  He shows their drive and determination in the midst of hatred and denial, but he does not reduce his characters, real and fictional alike, to mere archetypes.  He shows how class and regional differences do affect viewpoints and while he does not directly state it, he does hint that some of these characters go on to play important roles in the 1920s and 1930s Harlem Renaissance.  It is a powerful set of tales contained within the larger narrative of the 369th Infantry Regiment and it helps bolster the heroic qualities of “the Harlem Hellfighters.”  The Harlem Hellfighters might be in places “too Hollywood” for the actual historical unit, with occasionally graphic scenes of death and fighting, but for the most part, it is a lovingly-rendered fictionalization of an oft-overshadowed World War I American unit and as such, it is worth reading as a testimony to the lives of those who fought even when others within the country would rather forget that they ever existed.  One of the best historically-based graphic novels I have ever read.

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Greg King and Sue Woolmans, The Assassination of the Archduke: Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance That Changed the World (2013)

The Assassination of the ArchdukeToday it is easy to look back upon the years before 1914 with a kind of gauzy, romantic nostalgia.  It seems a simpler time, when innovation enthralled and peace predominated.  The truth, though, was somewhat different.  All major powers had fought in at least one war since 1860, usually several, and the modern arms race had begun in earnest; incursion, revolution, revolt, and repression were rife.  The fifty years preceding that golden summer of 1914 witnessed constant violence.  Assassination was common:  The sultan of Turkey was killed in 1876; American President Garfield and Tsar Alexander II of Russia in 1881; President Sadi Carnot of France in 1894; the shah of Persia in 1896; the prime minister of Spain in 1897; the empress of Austria in 1898; King Umberto of Italy in 1900; American President William McKinley in 1901; King Alexander and Queen Draga of Serbia in 1903; Grand Duke Sergei Alexandrovich of Russia in 1905; King Carlos of Portugal and his son Crown Prince Luis Felipe in 1908; Russian prime minister Peter Stolypin in 1911; and King George of Greece in 1913.  Royalty and politicians alike fell in precipitous numbers to bombs, bullets, and knives in these “golden” years of peace. (Introduction, p. 21, iPad iBooks e-edition)

June 28, 2014 marks the centenary of the fateful assassination of Austrian heir Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie in Sarajevo, Bosnia.  This event, long considered to be the flash point that triggered the horrific violence of World War I, did not actually generate as much initial attention as the events that followed in July 1914.  After all, tragic as the event was, it was for some at the time yet another assassination, one that removed a troublesome heir and this removal could potentially reap benefits for the Austrian crown.  For others, with their deaths, the hope for a federalization of the Habsburg-Lorraine realms crashed with the report of Gavrilo Princip’s bullets.  For most of the past century, historians have focused more on the events surrounding the assassination and on the social and political pressures present on the eve of the assassination than on the actual killing of the Archduke and his wife.  In the wake of tens of millions dead, wounded, or displaced, those two initial deaths meant little more than just the beginning of this massive wave of deaths.  But what is the story behind their arrival in Sarajevo?  Is there something to be gleaned from their lives that would make their deaths worth considering in a context other than the beginning of a deluge of war-caused deaths?

In their 2013 book, The Assassination of the Archduke:  Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance That Changed the World, Greg King and Sue Woolmans take a close look at the doomed couple, seeing in their controversial romance and marriage, as well as their deaths and its aftermath, the clash of an old and new Europe, a conflict destined to engulf millions.  Theirs was a marriage of unequals, at least in the eyes of the Austrian court.  The future heir to the Habsburg-Lorraine possessions, consorting with a minor Bohemian countess?  Even though there had been some liberalization of attitudes during the 19th century, the marriage of a royal heir to a member of the lower nobility was considered to be scandalous.  The aged Emperor Franz Joseph refused to recognize Countess Sophie as equal to his nephew and despite his and the court’s every attempt to split the couple, the court finally agreed to allow the two to marry, but only through what is known as a morganatic marriage, in which Sophie could not receive the traditional title’s of the royal Archduke’s consort and any children of hers would be barred from the line of succession.  The litany of petty snubs and insults is strange to contemplate a century later:

This set the tone for the rules Montenuovo laid down governing Sophie’s life.  As a morganatic spouse, she was excluded from nearly every privilege enjoyed by other Habsburg wives; on the rare occasions when concessions were made, they were done in such a way as to ensure that her unequal position was reinforced.  Sophie was not allowed to appear with her husband in public.  If he attended a race, opened a museum, toured a factory, or dedicated a school, she had to remain at home or linger in the distant shadows, unacknowledged.  If an honor guard saluted Franz Ferdinand, she had to leave, for as a morganatic wife she was not entitled to receive the salutes meant for a Habsburg.  If the national anthem greeted the archduke, she had to withdraw, as she was not a member of the imperial family.  If officials made a formal welcoming address or presentation, she was not allowed to stand near her husband and give the impression that she in any way warranted official recognition.  Franz Ferdinand was forbidden from ever mentioning his wife in any official speech.  Sophie could not even accompany Franz Ferdinand to the races, for she was deemed unfit to share his place in the imperial box. (pp. 82-83, Ch. 5)

In several chapters, King and Woolmans juxtapose this ill-treatment with the Archduke’s fondness for his wife and young children.  The Franz Ferdinand that they depict is a person of contrasts, a stern, aloof figure in public who was a loving husband and father in private.  Utilizing several letters that the couple’s descendents lent to them, King and Woolmans make the case for the Archduke being, if not quite a liberal, someone who considered a federal model, based on that of the United States (which the Archduke had toured in the 1890s), as a possible solution for the growing radical nationalist organizations in various parts of the Dual Monarchy.  He particularly saw the fissioning of Hungary into Magyar, Ruthenian, and South Slav constituencies as a way of lessening the power of the landed Hungarian nobility. (p. 130, Ch. 10)

Unfortunately, King and Woolmans do not devote much space to exploring the possibilities that these proposed policies could have had on future imperial politics, as this could have illustrated more strongly their thesis that the Archduke could have been a good ruler who might have staved off some of the nationalistic excesses that took place in 1918 and afterward.  In addition, the relative lack of opposing sources to contest their portrayal of Franz Ferdinand makes it hard at times to contrast their rosy image of the assassinated heir with contemporary accounts of his demeanor and actions.  Their use of the Archduke’s preserved communications with his wife and others is valuable, but at times it appears that they rely too much on them, risking a distorted image of Franz Ferdinand in their attempt to show him and his wife as tragic figures in the conflagration to come.

The events in Sarajevo in June 1914 are perhaps the most arresting of the book.  The efforts the authors make in establishing the characters of the Archduke and his wife pay off in how the Archduke’s conflicts with his military staff and his taking advantage of a situation to have his wife travel openly with him in a public, official position led directly to their deaths on June 28, 1914.  King and Woolmans also utilize recently-released records to show that there seem to be very strong connections between the Serbian nationalist group the Black Hand, Serbia, and through Serbia to Russia.  The conspirators’ origins and planning are laid out in clear, concise fashion, with enough detail to make the reader curious to know more.  This paragraph in particular is intriguing:

If Austria attacked Serbia, Artamanov assured Dimitrijević, “you are not going to be alone.”  This is what Dimitrijević said he was told.  Was this Russian sanction for the assassination?  Or was it merely some vague diplomatic assurance that the Tsarist empire would stand by its Balkan ally?  The answer depends on what Artamanov told St. Petersburg.  A veil of plausible deniability cloaked everyone involved.  Official Russian documents concerning the buildup to World War I were later falsified before publication or disappeared altogether.  On balance, it is not unlikely that Dimitrijević told Artamanov of the plot.  Nor is it unlikely that Artamanov shared this information with others.  However, the murky connections and destruction of official papers makes it impossible to offer any definitive evidence on this critical question. (p. 165, Ch. 14)

King and Woolmans’ discussion of the immediate aftermath makes quite clear that the assassination was not necessarily viewed then as a casus belli:

Then suddenly the music ceased as word of the assassination spread.  Many people, believing the worst about Franz Ferdinand, reacted with relief.  “There was,” recalled Stefan Zweig, “no special shock or dismay to be seen on the faces of the crowd, for the Heir to the Throne had not by any means been popular.”  Theatrical performances were canceled and shops closed to maintain the mood of mourning, but many Austrians almost welcomed the news.  “The town takes it all very quietly,” noted Sir Maurice de Bunsen.  “There is not a sign of emotion anywhere.  They must be a very apathetic people.”  In the Prater, one man saw “no mood of mourning” as the round of festivities continued.  “God meant to be kind to Austria,” recorded famed diarist Josef Redlich, “by saving it from this Emperor.”  In many political and official court circles, Eisenmenger said, word of the assassination “was received with ill-concealed satisfaction.  They were relieved to be rid of so powerful and dangerous an opponent.”  One courtier greeted the news with the simple “The ogre is dead.” (p. 188, Ch. 17)

The authors immediately contrast this seeming apathy in Vienna with violent street fights in Sarajevo, as Turks and Croatians carried black-ribboned mourning pictures of the Emperor and began looting the houses of Serbs, treating them all as complicit in the assassination. (p. 190)  The investigation into the murders led to the arrests of most of the conspirators.  Mounting evidence indicted that the Serbian government in some fashion either knew beforehand of the assassination attempt or they may have actively aided and abetted the conspirators.  Although King and Woolmans make a compelling case for this, the paucity of discussion prior to the final few chapters serves more here to create an intruding discussion into the main narrative regarding the warm relationship between the Archduke and his wife.  It is not an unwelcome intrusion, but nonetheless, it does feel foreign to the narrative they had established for the previous four-fifths of the book.

The Assassination of the Archduke is one of those historical books that contains a wealth of sources and footnotes, yet is more accessible for the general layperson who might not be familiar with current research.  Certainly King and Woolmans do a good job in presenting a different side to the long-reviled Archduke, but there are times that they come across more as advocates for his defense than as historians writing a historical biography.  Leaving this aside, this book is valuable not just for its portrayals of the doomed couple, but also for its cogent presentation in the concluding chapters of possible factors that led to the Austrian government using an ultimatum to Serbia, an ultimatum that was not met and one that led to the catastrophe of World War I.  It may not be the best-argued and presented book on the Sarajevo assassination, but it certainly is one that adds to our collective understanding of the people who died there a century ago.

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Why write about the literature surrounding World War I?

The centenary of World War I, in the minds of most, begins with the assassination of Austrian Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophia in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, but as is the case with most beginnings, there are antecedents that are much more difficult to place.  Why did Gavrilo Princip and his associates conduct the assassination?  What was the state of affairs in the Dual Monarchy in 1914?  Are there shifts in attitude, ranging from the nationalist to the internationalist, that led to that explosion known as the August Madness?

These questions are but the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to examining this military/cultural/social/political phenomenon we call either World War I or the Great War.  While relatively obscured by its bloodier sequel, World War I is fascinating for historians and literary scholars (and of course, the general public) because so much creativity came into existence around the war, within the war, and through the consequences of the war.  The Edwardian era in Anglo-American literature lurches suddenly into something less pastoral, less concerned with niceties, more discontented, more dangerous to the accepted order (although one could argue that the rise of anarchistic movements in the 1880s presages the war and supplies some of the rhetoric employed during and after the global conflict).  Outside of the Anglophone sphere, similar developments, albeit with some different elements, were transpiring in the French colonial empire, in Central Europe, and in the regions most directly affected by the new imperialism of the 1870s-1890s.

In creating this site, I want to explore how these divers regions and their diverse reactions (and perhaps proactive responses?) to the war generated the postwar developments of the 20th and early 21st centuries.  This blog over the next few years will try to explore further responses to the questions listed above and to others not yet formulated.  With the possible exception of the 16th and 17th century Wars of Religion, no singular conflict has had such a profound cultural impact on modern European history (and to a lesser extent, global history) than the Great War/World War I.  It is this perpetual question of “why?” that drives my curiosity.  Why were so many writers, but not by any means all, so anti-war by the end of the conflict?  How does this contrast with the jingoism of June-August 1914?  How did perceptions of war on the Eastern/Southern/African fronts differ from those of soldiers on the Western Front?

In exploring these questions, I will not limit myself to just the usual Anglo-French-German perspectives, as seen through their writers and historians, of the war.  Instead, as is fitting for such a global conflict, there will be efforts made to discuss perspectives of soldiers and civilians from all across the world.  If World War I involved “total war,” then this will mean an examination of the “home front,” or the internalization of war in the larger societies than those created in the army groups and trenches.  Too often, the effects of war on women and their “place” in society are just relegated to a few pithy diary accounts and propaganda pieces on female workers in the factories.  This site will endeavor to explore the myriad ways in which women and others who did not fire shots affected the war and came to integrate the war into their own lives.

In addition, while the majority of the poems, movies, novels, short stories, memoirs, and histories will be primary sources from the war years, there will be pieces devoted to how later generations utilized World War I to create fictions and histories that affect us even today.  There will not be a linear discussion of the war; I will not start with 1914 and proceed in order to 1918.  Instead, there will be a mixture of contemporary and much more recent fictions, dependent on what is read next.  There will be some common themes, however, that will be explored in these pieces, whether they be just a few short lines devoted to a singular poem or thousands of words on a particular battle.  When I finish this project, likely in 2018 or 2019, I want to revisit this post and see just what I’ve learned about the war and its influences on the writers reviewed here.  I suspect that just as the poetry of Sassoon and Owen changed dramatically from 1914 to 1918, there will be a shift of understanding here as well.  I am looking forward to see what comes of this.

Expect the first few commentaries in the next few weeks.

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A very partial list of works to be covered in coming months

Welcome to World War I Literature, Art, and Cinema.  Over the next few years the centenary of the 1914-1918 Great War/World War I will be marked by covering numerous histories, poems, novels, artwork, and cinemas that were either created during the war or were written in relation to that devastating world-wide conflict.  While the primary language of the writer (and possible contributors) is English, there will be attempts made to cover, either in translation or in the original idiom, works produced by people who spoke French, Italian, Spanish, German, Romanian, and other languages.  The list below, which is for now quite small, represents a smattering of the literature that will be reviewed in the coming months (starting in May-June 2014) and years:

Erich Maria Remarque, All Quiet on the Western Front (novel to be read in German and English and Spanish translations; 1930 cinema)

Modris Eksteins, Rites of Spring (cultural history)

Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August (history)

Ford Madox Ford, Parade’s End (novel trilogy)

Liviu Rebreanu, The Forest of the Hanged (cinema; novel will be read in Romanian)

Vicente Blasco Ibáñez, The Four Riders of the Apocalypse (novel)

Robert Graves, Goodbye to All That (memoir that in part covers his experiences in World War I)

Henri Barbusse, Under Fire (novel)

Jaroslav Hašek, The Good Soldier Svejk (novel)

John Dos Passos, The Three Soldiers (novel)

Dalton Trumbo, Johnny Got His Gun (novel)

Mario Rigoni Stern, Storia di Tönle/L’anno della vittoria (novels)

Mark Helprin, A Soldier of the Great War (novel)

Pat Barker, Regeneration trilogy (novels)

Wilfred Owen, “Anthem for Doomed Youth” (poetry – will cover his other major war poems as well)

Siegfried Sassoon, Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man (novel); The War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon (poetry)

Greg King and Sue Woolmans, The Assassination of the Archduke:  Sarajevo 1914 and the Romance That Changed the World (history)

R.C. Sherriff, Journey’s End (play)

Miroslav Krleža, Hrvatski Bog Mars (short stories; title translated from Serbo-Croatian is The Croatian God Mars)

Joseph Boyden, Three Day Road (novel)

Tim Cross (ed.), The Lost Voices of World War I:  An International Anthology of Writers, Poets & Playwrights (anthology)

Thomas M. Johnson, The Lost Battalion (history)

The Lost Battalion (1919 movie)

Sergeant York (movie)

H.G. Well, Mr. Britling Sees It Through (novel)

William Boyd, An Ice Cream War (novel); The New Confessions (novel)

Donald Jack, Three Cheers for Me

The African Queen (movie)

Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway (novel)

Romain Rolland, Clerambault (novel; reading in both French and English translation)

Raymond Radiguet, Le diable au corps (novel; French)

Ivo Andrić, The Bridge on the Drina (last part of novel is set in WWI; will read in both translation and the Serbian edition)

Stefan Sweig, “Buchmendel” (German short story)

L. Frank Baum, Aunt Jane’s Nieces in the Red Cross (1915 edition; novel)

Alexander Soltzhenitsyn, August 1914 (novel)

Alan Kramer, Dynamic of Destruction:  Culture and Mass Killing in the First World War (history)

C.S. Forester, Brown on Resolution (novel)

Jessica Gregson, The Angel Makers (novel)

Philippe Claudel, Les âmes grises (French; novel)

Arthur Machen, “The Bowmen” (short story, sometimes called “The Angel of Mons”)

In addition, there will be some discussion of some of the propaganda images taken from the war.  These will be interspersed among the literary reviews and essays.

Feel free to leave suggestions for other titles in the comments.  I will be updating this list frequently in the weeks to come.

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