Literature, World War I - Research Article from Americans at War

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Literature, World War I

The literature of war of the 1920s and 1930s revealed unprecedented disillusionment and pessimism in America's best young writers. The wartime experiences of this "Lost Generation" shattered their faith in society, in the value of idealism, and in the significance of the individual life. The powerful antiwar books of the 1920s and 1930s helped encourage pacifism and isolationism in the years before Pearl Harbor.

With the striking exceptions of Ezra Pound's "Hugh Selwyn Mauberly" (1920) and T. S. Eliot's "The Wasteland" (1922), most American poetry about the war employs stale diction to uphold platitudes about heroism, patriotism, and sacrifice. (Alan Seeger's popular "A Rendezvous with Death" [1915] rises somewhat above the general level.) Marxist periodicals printed strident anti-war verse during the period of American neutrality.

Mainstream war writing published in 1917–1918 was strongly conventional and propagandistic. Writers romanticized the war as an opportunity to cultivate...

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This section contains 1,178 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Literature, World War I Encyclopedia Article
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Americans at War
Literature, World War I from Americans at War. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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