“Mr. Britling Sees It Through”(1916) was called by him “the history of his own concern”. The responsibility of everyone for the war. It is autobiographical. Tried to write about the evolution of consciousness of his contemporaries. Concentrates on the inner life of his heroes. Fantasy & reality mingles here. As to the reasons of the war – he brings his heroes to the conclusion that wars are inherited in human nature. He started as an optimistic liberalist but as he lived on he was very much disappointed.
“You Fools” is his last word to humanity.
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There are many novels & poetry about war. These writers are known as “lost generation” writers. The term was introduced by Gertrude Stein. She uses it metaphorically: old values & beliefs were lost in the war but unfortunately new moral values were not formed yet. Majority of these writers went through the war themselves.
This was a certain tendency in poetry – Trench poetry. They wrote about war. Young people who served as soldiers expressed their outcry: Wilfred Owen ”Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori”, Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg. Many of the poems have pacifist character. They were among the first to create the true picture of trench life. They gave rather naturalistic pictures, the imagery was very vivid & appalling, scenes of massacre, they wrote about the smell of the corpses, heavy job, gas attacks, deaths of young & promising people. They created the image of war as very ugly & senseless deed. Other writers responded to that huge catastrophe.
The classical example of novel about lost generation is “The Death of a Hero” by R. Aldington.
Richard Aldington (1892-1962)
He started as a poet close to decadence, aestheticism, he belonged to imagist poets (formalism). He published “Old & New Images”- his first collection of poems. He propagated the doctrine escapism – movement to escape in to the world of beauty (in Ellinism) from the ugliness of the world. This ideal world was shattered by the WWI. He came from it another man, he broke with imagists & continued to work in realistic trend.
In 1929 “The Death of a Hero” was published. The novel was started after the war but had not been completed until 15 years later. It’s a social novel disclosing tragic consequence & reasons of war. He made readers see that the war was inevitable. But the protagonist tries to find the answer for the question – who is responsible for that? Everybody was! Everybody is guilty for the rivers of spilt human blood. This book is a cry for redemption for the writer.
It is a novel of big generalization. There are many autobiographical touches in the book. He starts farther in the war to unmask the hypocrisy of the English society, respected English families. Aldington wants to show that this is a pack of lies that the war is a noble deed, a salvation. He tries to show that lies started much earlier. His ideals are truth & beauty. Aldington says that this generation was lost before the war started. War was not the source of the tragedy but rather result of it.
The life story of George Winterborne is given in a reverse order. We see Winterborne family in which all relations are based on deceit & lies. Later we see George at school where he is supposed to develop into a strong & aggressive individual, the defender of imperialism. He tries to escape from the influence of society & turns to art in search of his place under the sun. He moves to London but among “intellectual” people he found only hypocrisy. He is inherently lonely, his ideas of truth & beauty are frustrated by snobs, who pretended to be leaders of artistic movement. He sees all their cynicism. In that period of his London life he still shows his early tendency to resist to circumstances. He expresses his disillusionment in angry talks but he cannot achieve peace. He remains passive.
Much is said about his love because love was the only harbour for other “lost generation” heroes. It is not so for G.Winterborne. These relations are coloured with cynicism (realization of Freud’s ideas of free love between George’s wife & her lover). When he tried to put these ideas into practice, he faced with constant quarrels & was eventually turned down by both his women. Then the war starts. He volunteers to the front. War becomes a period of his maturity. He finds himself side by side with common soldiers & this confrontation with simple people makes him aware of real human values – those of courage, friendship, support. Nothing can be more precious than pure trust in man. Life in the trenches makes him think about life in general & he started to ask questions. How does it happen that government finds huge amount of money to kill Germans in the war but cannot find it to fight poverty in London. He becomes aware of social contradiction & antagonism. He thought that social hostility broke through in the outburst of hatred. He still feels very much lonely & isolated. He feels that he differs from others, he is very much of an individual soul. He doesn’t belong to the soldiers, their roughness makes him feel very uncomfortable. He is completely lost. With all these problems he doesn’t see any way out but to terminate his life by his own free will (he commits a suicide). By all the narration Aldington makes us see that this way is the logical ending for the person who was lost before the war started.
Ðåôåðàò îïóáëèêîâàí: 31/01/2010