Oxford's Literary War: Oxford University's servicemen and the Great War


By Dr Stephen M. Cullen, published 11th August 2011

The last two decades have seen a slow shift in the academic understanding of the impact of the Great War on interwar Britain. The work of a small group of cultural historians has challenged strongly held pre-existing interpretations of the cultural impact of the Great War. However, there is still a popular perception that the war was characterised by the innocent generation of 1914 marching from an Edwardian summer into an Armageddon which killed most of them, and left the survivors bitter and disenchanted, regretting their participation in a futile conflict, and languishing in the inter-war period, deeply marked by this failure.

Yet this is not a view of the war that many of its combatant veterans would have recognised, and, in particular, a productive and influential group of literary veterans, all with connections to Oxford University, who were engaged, in the 1920s and 1930s in writing a different representation of the meaning and experience of the Great War.

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