Deutschland, Österreich, Osteuropa, England, Belgien und Frankreich
Edited By Hans-Heino Ewers-Uhlmann
The First World War becomes History. Strategies of War Remembrance in 1920s British School Novels
While the British children’s war story of the inter-war year and its ways of remembering the Great War has been examined in several recent studies (see Paris 2000 & 2004; Flothow 2007), little attention has so far been paid to the school stories of the early 1920s. Nevertheless, several of these texts provided their readers with very direct and didactic role models on how the British school child and the British school should remember the war’s casualties and sacrifices. Placing these texts both in the context of generic developments of the school story and in the much contested memorial culture of the early 1920s, this article argues that these stories present another instance of how popular culture used generic models to console its readers with the past and to conceal the changes in modern warfare.
In an unprecedented way, the First World War involved not only European armies but also European civil societies. Even children and young people were affected by this ‘total war’: they suffered from food rationings, air raids and the deaths of fathers and brothers (see Audoin-Rouzeau 2003). Rather than being a harmless form of entertainment only, children’s literature of the war years therefore served as a form of war propaganda that attempted to enlist the readers’ support for the respective country’s cause.1 In their thrilling stories, British children’s writers such as Herbert Strang, Percy Westerman or Bessie Marchant therefore praised the British soldiers and condemned the German foe; they presented...
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