Your cart is empty.
Battle Lines - Canadian Poetry in English and the First World War

Battle Lines

Canadian Poetry in English and the First World War

By Joel Baetz
Subjects Literary Criticism, Canadian Literature, Poetry, History, Canadian History, Military History
Hide Details
Hardcover : 9781771123198, 192 pages, May 2018
Paperback : 9781771123297, 192 pages, September 2018

Table of contents

Table of Contents

Introduction

1. War Is a Force that Brings Us Together: Douglas Leader Durkin’s Anthems, the Gender of War, and Helena Coleman’s Marching Men

2. We Are the Living: Rupert Brooke, John McCrae, and the Economy of Mourning

3. Dreaming about War: Robert Service’s War Journalism and Poetry

4. The Blunt Swords of Georgianism: Frank Prewett’s War Poetry

5. Battle Ground: Ross’s Wartime Modernism and Neo-Romantic Cliché

Conclusion

Description

For Canadians, the First World War was a dynamic period of literary activity. Almost every poet wrote about the war, critics made bold predictions about the legacy of the period’s poetry, and booksellers were told it was their duty to stock shelves with war poetry. Readers bought thousands of volumes of poetry. Twenty years later, by the time Canada went to war again, no one remembered any of it.

Battle Lines traces the rise and disappearance of Canadian First World War poetry, and offers a striking and comprehensive account of its varied and vexing poetic gestures. As eagerly as Canadians took to the streets to express their support for the war, poets turned to their notebooks, and shared their interpretations of the global conflict, repeating and reshaping popular notions of, among others, national obligation, gendered responsibility, aesthetic power, and deathly presence.

The book focuses on the poetic interpretations of the Canadian soldier. He emerges as a contentious poetic subject, a figure of battle romance, and an emblem of modernist fragmentation and fractiousness. Centring the work of five exemplary Canadian war poets (Helena Coleman, John McCrae, Robert Service, Frank Prewett, and W.W.E. Ross), the book reveals their latent faith in collective action as well as conflicting recognition of modernist subjectivities. Battle Lines identifies the Great War as a long-overlooked period of poetic ferment, experimentation, reluctance, and challenge.

Reviews

Battle Lines discusses the neglect of Canadian World War I literature, arguing that postwar dismissals of this work as “too patriotic” and simplistic have been uncritically reiterated. Such dismissals tell us less about the poetry and more about the relationship between literature and an emerging national critical tradition. Baetz’s study engages the recent outpouring of criticism on the subjects of World War I literature and Canadian modernism. Its insights and masterful readings of individual poems are supported by sound scholarship and deep archival research.

- Neta Gordon, Brock University, author of Catching the Torch: Contemporary Canadian Literary Responses to World War I (WLU Press, 2014)