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A Civil War of Words

The Cultural Impact of the Great War in Catalonia, Spain, Europe and a Glance at Latin America

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Edited By Xavier Pla, Maximiliano Fuentes and Francesc Montero

The Great War did not only mark the history of the twentieth century: to a large extent, the conflict also affected culture and literature in Europe and the rest of the world. This collection of essays aims to provide the reader with a broad and transdisciplinary perspective on the cultural and political impact of the Great War. Using a comparative approach and focusing on Catalonia and Spain, this volume reflects the enormous variety of representations of the ‘theatre of war’ in both neutral and belligerent countries, causing a significant rejuvenation in fiction and journalistic genres in the subsequent decades.
This book features essays by some of the most important specialists in the First World War from Spain, Italy, Portugal, the United Kingdom and Latin America, who, in the centenary of the conflict, provide an innovative critical approach to this crucial event in contemporary history.
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Toward a Pro-Ally Collective Imagination: Spanish Writers in the Face of the Great War

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1

We will begin by stating the obvious: every war has its corresponding symbolic representation. Every encounter on the battlefield is accompanied by another kind of conflict, no doubt less bloody yet perhaps no less fierce, and which is fought as a war of discourse. This is none other than the open pitched battle between representations and interpretations, and which is ever-present in times of war. Social discourse in its many expressions – both verbal and non-verbal – broaches the subject of war in an effort to describe it, analyse it, justify it or insult it, turning the very exercise of discourse into yet another chapter of the actual conflict. As Antonio Monegal pointed out, ‘la representación también forma parte de cómo se lucha’ [‘representation also forms part of how the battle is fought’].2 War therefore feeds to a large extent on the discourse that builds it and reproduces it symbolically. This well-known fact, which has been studied from a general or theoretical perspective as well as for the particular case of numerous specific conflicts, is thus both logical and to be expected, as is the fact that the discursive response to war often transcends the opposing armies – whether these be nations, peoples or civil factions contained in a single country. War is fought within a more or less well-defined physical space, yet is projected in symbolic echoes that reach beyond geographical ← 285 | 286 → and political borders. This makes war a phenomenon whose frontiers or limits...

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