Winner of both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award and named by the Modern Library one of the twentieth century's 100 Best Non-Fiction Books, Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory was universally acclaimed on publication in 1970. Today, Fussell's landmark study remains as original and gripping as ever: a literate, literary, and unapologetic account of the Great War, the war that changed a generation, ushered in the modern era, and revolutionized how we see the world.
This brilliant work illuminates the trauma and tragedy of modern warfare in fresh, revelatory ways. Exploring the work of Siegfried Sassoon, Robert Graves, Edmund Blunden, David Jones, Isaac Rosenberg, and Wilfred Owen, Fussell supplies contexts, both actual and literary, for those writers who--with conspicuous imaginative and artistic meaning--most effectively memorialized World War I as an historical experience. Dispensing with literary theory and elevated rhetoric, Fussell grounds literary texts in the mud and trenches of World War I and shows how these poems, diaries, novels, and letters reflected the massive changes--in every area, including language itself--brought about by the cataclysm of the Great War. For generations of readers, this work has represented and embodied a model of accessible scholarship, huge ambition, hard-minded research, and haunting detail.
Restored and updated, this new edition includes an introduction by historian Jay Winter that takes into account the legacy and literary career of Paul Fussell, who died in May 2012.
Paul Fussell was an American cultural and literary historian and critic. He is the author of over 20 works and winner of the National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award.
"One of the best nonfiction works I've ever read. I'm a huge fan of virtually everything Fussell has ever done, but this unique book, which uses literature and social history to examine World War I, may be his best. Unflinching."--James Gray, The Week
"Literary and historical materials, in themselves not unfamiliar, are brought together in a probing, sympathetic, and finally illuminating fashion. It is difficult to think of a scholarly work in recent years that has more deeply engaged the reader at both the intellectual and emotional level." --The New Republic
"Skillful, compassionate.... An important contribution to our understanding of how we came to make World War I part of our minds." --Frank Kermode, The New York Times Book Review
"A learned book that is also bright and sensitive." --The New Yorker
"An original and brilliant piece of cultural history and one of the most deeply moving books I have read in a long time." --Lionel Trilling
"Paul Fussell's The Great War and Modern Memory
introduced an entirely new and creative way of writing both about war and the literature it generates. It has been a profound influence on historians and literary critics alike." --John Kegan