Susie Wilde's Reviews > The Great War and Modern Memory

The Great War and Modern Memory by Paul Fussell
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Jul 24, 09

bookshelves: would-love-to-re-read
Read in January, 1983

I learnt more about WW1 from this book than almost any other. Fussell charts the war's progress via language use. There was a huge shift away from the heroic, used as a tool to lure thousands to their death. For example, 'the fallen' quickly became 'the dead', 'chargers' became 'horses', clearly showing the men's utter disillusionment and contempt for euphemism. Their new way of speaking made it impossible for them to talk candidily when they returned home. It was a literal, as well as ideological, shift.

There's lots more but I must re-read the book to elaborate. I last read it about 1983, so you can see how powerfully it has affected me. The sad thing is, I have noticed that the outpouring of grief on every news bulletin now refers to the dead soldiers as 'the fallen' in Afghanistan. This worries me.
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