Women's Poetry and the First World War (1914-1918)

TitleWomen's Poetry and the First World War (1914-1918)
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsBanerjee, Argha
Number of Pages524
CityNew Delhi

There is a strong tradition of women's poetry written in response to the events of the First World War. Many of these poems depict direct experiences of the processes of war, including making weapons, nursing the wounded, and the loss of brothers, sons, or lovers in the trenches by women who were on active service in the battle areas as well as by women involved in the war effort at home. The range of this poetry is very wide. From elegiac renderings and articulation of diverse forms of work experience on the one hand, to the political rhetoric of pre-war suffrage, patriotism, pacifism, and propaganda on the other, poems written by women during the years of the war provide an absorbing literary and socio-political study of the time. By critically exploring diverse forms of women's poetry, including jingles, lyrics and parodies of contemporary popular culture and working-class poetry, this book not only broadens the horizons of earlier bibliographical and critical research, but also vindicates the unique cultural relevance of such renderings in a war-torn society. While some women poets used traditional forms of expression, others challenged such conventional allegiance to fashion a poetic discourse and critique the patriarchal ideology of violence and war. While aesthetics serve as a yardstick for critical evaluation in certain cases, in others, socio-political and historical documentation affirms the validity of chronicling these testimonies in verse. In assimilating women's responses, while critically examining the pastoral theme in Great War poetry, this book initiates and advocates the idea of an integrated critical approach in exploration of broad themes of war poetry. Thereby, it discards the earlier male centred and one-dimensional approach undertaken by prior critics of war poetry. 

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