The Legacy of War
January 9, 2013
Some of the most powerful stories explore how the public image of a proud tour of duty grates against the realities of war, giving us the opportunity to find empathy and understanding for those who have sacrificed so much.
In the second series of “Downton Abbey” Mary asks Matthew about the war he has just returned from and he answers that it is something he cannot talk about. Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks and its TV series adaptation reiterates this dilemma in civilian life and relationships. Faulks pulls us into the nightmare of a soldier’s reality and the surreal impact of returning to a homeland where the atrocities they have witnessed and experienced cannot be talked of for fear of shattering the myths and beliefs of courage that help all endure the deprivations of war.
All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria Remarque and the poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon are strong portrayals of the degrading conditions at the Front during WW1. Till I end my Song: a gathering of last poems gives Owen’s impressions of his service experience, and the Study guide of Wilfred Owen’s work by Margaret Berg adds more context to his life. Siegfried Sassoon: a biography by Max Egremont gives us a personal view of a man who questioned the war politically and through his words.
The Regeneration Trilogy - “Regeneration”, “The Eye in the Door” and “The Ghost Road” by Pat Barker combines details from the literary papers and service records of Owen and Sassoon, the research and records of their doctor W.H. Rivers and fictional characters into a riveting story about the cultural, psychological and physical legacy of armed conflict. Though we understand how the book is unfolding, the storylines are so masterfully developed that the crime of war in all its elements still culminates into a surprising and shocking finale.
Are there stories about the impact of war that you have read and appreciated?
Written by Lisa