Tag Archives: World War One

A Belated but Necessary Witness to Devastation: Joe Sacco’s “The Great War”

In a 1917 appraisal of Siegfried Sassoon’s first collection of war poems, The Huntsman, Virginia Woolf lauded the poet for revealing all those things about the present war that are “sordid and horrible.” To Woolf, Sassoon’s poetry surpassed mere reportage to offer civic value by underlining the tacit complicity of a silent British home front. Sassoon is able to produce in his poems, Woolf writes, “an uneasy desire to leave our place in the audience.” Pity, it would seem, is what Woolf admires in Sassoon’s war realism; pity is the impetus of this “uneasy desire” to leave the audience. Wilfred …Continue reading

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History Repeats and Repeats and Repeats: Will Self’s ‘Umbrella’

Will Self’s new novel, Umbrella (Grove Press, 397 pages), is a whirlwind journey through the lives of four characters living in three different eras. A Modernist novel featuring frenetic stream of consciousness writing, Self defies convention and digs deep into the social issues plaguing the 20th century. Audrey Death matures in London at the turn of the century, when underground railroads and automobiles were changing the landscape of the city. Following World War I, which splits Audrey from her brothers Albert and Stanley, she suffers a mental breakdown. Later diagnosed with encephalities lethargica, Audrey is stashed away in Friern Mental …Continue reading

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