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World War I from Local Perspectives: History, Literature and Visual Arts

Austria, Britain, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Poland and the United States

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Edited By Mirosława Buchholtz and Grzegorz Koneczniak

The volume explores the ways in which the Great War has been remembered and imaged in various local accounts. It provides careful readings of a wide range of sources: letters exchanged by Henry James and Burgess Noakes, spoken accounts of the Old Believers of the Russian Orthodox Church, historical documents concerning Eastern Europe and the United States, travel writings by Fritz Wertheimer, Hermann Struck, and Herbert Eulenberg, literary texts by Lord Dunsany, Miroslav Krleža, and Gustav Meyrink, theater performances in Italy and Ireland and visual arts: masks for facially disfigured soldiers made by Francis Derwent Wood and Anna Coleman Ladd.
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Lord Dunsany’s War Tales: Realism and Fantasy

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Among the testimonial documents on World War I and their literary interpretation in English letters, the Anglo-Irish fantasist Lord Dunsany has left a number of peculiar stories that literary scholars have often overlooked for various reasons. Lord Dunsany, a peer of the crown, a great huntsman and a lover of tall tales, had started a career in writing at the time of the Irish Revival without clearly adhering to the cultural movement. Most readers of his prose came under the spell of his tales of wonder, which he published mainly before the war in a gamut of famous magazines before gradually collecting them in book form, mainly in The Tales of Wonder or A Dreamer’s Tales among many others. But most readers did not know – or did not care – that he fought in the First World War after being shortly involved (and wounded) by accident rather than by choice in the Irish uprising of 1916.

Those stories or transient testimonies, sometimes short notes scattered in various papers, hardly meet the expected anecdotic memories of dramatic war times, but they build up a near dirge of sad glimpses. In 1916 Dunsany joined the War Office and the department of propaganda, the M.I.7 B. The Foreign Office resorting to writers as a way of boosting morale and asserting a moral cause was not exceptional, and Alfred Noyse, John Buchan or Arthur Machen did participate. Hence, the repetitive demonization of the arrogant Kaiser as a raging “homicidal maniac” by...

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