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The Myth of War in British and Polish Poetry

1939-1945

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Marzena Sokolowska-Paryz

In recent decades, there has been a marked tendency to look at war literature from a perspective that reaches beyond the experiences of particular nations. Characteristically, though poetry and prose from Poland, Hungary and former Czechoslovakia are included in multi-national anthologies, the war literatures of Eastern Europe seem to have been ignored in critical studies. The Myth of War in British and Polish Poetry. 1939-1945 aims to fill in this critical vacuum. This study concentrates on the processes through which British and Polish poetry contributed to the shaping of myths of war, each offering creative interpretations of historical facts and developments. Both poetic traditions are analysed in the context of their national literary heritage and historical background in order to explain the discrepancies characterising these imaginative versions of war. Yet, the ultimate objective is to discover spheres of convergence within a network of differences. This comparative analysis of British and Polish war poetry paves the way for discussions about the relationships between national and individual experiences of history, inviting consideration of how seemingly unsurpassable borders can be crossed.
Contents: Survey of the developments in British and Polish poetry of the First World War – The creation of national myths of war and their impact on post-1918 literature – British and Polish poetry of the Second World War – The myth of war and the myth of the wartime generation – The impact of the British and Polish myths of war on post-1945 poetry.