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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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The Squadron of the Star: Catalan War Poetry

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1

A poetry of war? Could a war as inhuman as the Great War be capable of inspiring what we call poetry? The truth is that it led not just to a few poems, but to hundreds and thousands. Indeed, it should be no surprise that there was such an outpouring of words produced and reproduced in what were highly literate western European societies. From 1914 onwards, the French began writing at will. Four million letters were sent via military mail each day during 1915. During the course of the war, the figure would reach more than ten thousand million.2 On all sides, there was a storm of words. In the first month of the conflict, the daily London newspaper, The Times, received 100 poems per day; the Berliner Tageblatt, nearly 500. This is rightly spoken of as a genuine ‘poetic mobilization’ which, counting only those at the beginning of the call to arms, reached a million and a half compositions. Between 1914 and 1918, about 3,000 war poems were published in Britain, the work of 225 poets. During the same period, France recorded more than 2,120 poets, among combatants and residents à l’arrière.3

Once the first shots had been fired and the fronts had stabilized, the editorial writer of the Parisian Le Temps said that more rhymes than shells were being manufactured, that the new situation had recruited an army of lyrists. As a result of the exaltation of spirits raised by the...

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