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H. G. Wells and the Wartime Imagination

H. G. Wells and the Wartime Imagination <jats:p> No figure is more powerful as a symbol of mass warfare in the twentieth century than the civilian, whose vulnerability on a world scale challenges the moral life of our societies. The story of the civilian has recently become the focus of scholarship on the First World War. This paper discusses some of the wartime writings of H. G. Wells – arguably the most influential and widely-read civilian writer during and immediately after the war, who has been completely overlooked by literary critics and war scholars – to argue that in several wartime works with huge readerships, Wells took up the position of civilian in new and activist terms, first, as a matter of imagination, and second, as a matter of responsibility. Wells's textual efforts intersect in intriguing ways with more familiar war writings, but also depart quite radically from them, as he boldly assigns the role of world pacifist to those at home – out of combat, but sharing with soldiers a sense of rage and frustration, and a belief that such violence must not become the world's norm. </jats:p> http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Modernist Cultures Edinburgh University Press

H. G. Wells and the Wartime Imagination

Modernist Cultures , Volume 12 (1): 16 – Mar 1, 2017

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Publisher
Edinburgh University Press
Copyright
© Edinburgh University Press 2017
Subject
Articles; Film, Media and Cultural Studies
ISSN
2041-1022
eISSN
1753-8629
DOI
10.3366/mod.2017.0154
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

<jats:p> No figure is more powerful as a symbol of mass warfare in the twentieth century than the civilian, whose vulnerability on a world scale challenges the moral life of our societies. The story of the civilian has recently become the focus of scholarship on the First World War. This paper discusses some of the wartime writings of H. G. Wells – arguably the most influential and widely-read civilian writer during and immediately after the war, who has been completely overlooked by literary critics and war scholars – to argue that in several wartime works with huge readerships, Wells took up the position of civilian in new and activist terms, first, as a matter of imagination, and second, as a matter of responsibility. Wells's textual efforts intersect in intriguing ways with more familiar war writings, but also depart quite radically from them, as he boldly assigns the role of world pacifist to those at home – out of combat, but sharing with soldiers a sense of rage and frustration, and a belief that such violence must not become the world's norm. </jats:p>

Journal

Modernist CulturesEdinburgh University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2017

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