Grieving the ‘Good’ War

  • Carol Acton


The memoirs, diaries and letter exchanges discussed in Chapter 1 reveal the fallacy of defining war through the traditional boundaries and binaries of home and front, civilian and combatant, beginning and ending. At the same time, such boundaries still persist in delimiting spatial parameters and in creating a legitimacy surrounding voices that are given permission to speak and voices that are silenced. As both Damousi and Winter show, and as we have seen in the private writings of women such as Vera Brittain and Phyllis Kelly, the emotional history of war involves a particularly poignant collapsing of conventional boundaries of time and space, illustrating how the war experience extends long past its official ending not just in terms of public memory in the form of memorials, for example, but also in private struggles to deal with loss both emotionally and economically. The popular success of Sherriff’s play Journey’s End in 1929 and Brittain’s Testament of Youth in 1933 further testify to the need for a shared public expression of private anguish long after the official end of the war. To consider grief and loss in the First World War and Second World War as distinct would, therefore, be to ignore those voices of mourning from the First World War that extend to and then merge with grief as it is anticipated and experienced in the second.


Private Experience Family Story Fighter Pilot Life Magazine Private Feeling 
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Copyright information

© Carol Acton 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol Acton
    • 1
  1. 1.St Jerome’s UniversityCanada

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