Beyond The Home Front: Women's Autobiographical Writing of the Two World Wars

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Few would argue that war has been a defining experience for people born in Europe and North America in the twentieth century. The degree to which war has been instrumental in improving women's social situation remains a vexed question, however. Conventional wisdom repeats the cliche that the Great War liberated women by allowing them to demonstrate their fitness for equality by recruiting them to work in men's jobs previously considered beyond their capabilities. In fact, their patriotic enthusiasm was used ...

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Overview

Few would argue that war has been a defining experience for people born in Europe and North America in the twentieth century. The degree to which war has been instrumental in improving women's social situation remains a vexed question, however. Conventional wisdom repeats the cliche that the Great War liberated women by allowing them to demonstrate their fitness for equality by recruiting them to work in men's jobs previously considered beyond their capabilities. In fact, their patriotic enthusiasm was used against them after the war, when they were seen to have profited from the deaths of the men they replaced. As Europe prepared for the Second World War, this resentment of women's perceived war-profiteering helped to smooth their transition from sacred, protected icon to target.

In Beyond The Home Front, Yvonne M. Klein provides selections from autobiographical writing by women in the two World Wars that illustrate the richness and complexity of women's war-time lives. Although women generally did not take up arms, this collection reminds us that their war stories are neither peripheral nor secondary to the battle stories of men. This volume helps to reclaim women's experience of war as part of the universal experience of the twentieth century, different from that of men, but not as different as might be thought.

Bringing together more than forty selections from the two wars, Beyond the Home Front includes the work, much of it long out of print, of a wide array of voices including Sylvia Pankhurst, Vera Brittain, Ida B. Wells-Barnett, Mary Lee Settle, Mary Borden, Gertrude Stein, and Joy Kogawa. The volume, which will appeal to the general reader as well as to the student of history and literature, includes contextual introductions as well as brief biographies of each of the writers.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814747025
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 6/1/1997
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 264
  • Product dimensions: 5.54 (w) x 8.48 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Yvonne M. Klein is Professor of English at Dawson College in Montreal, where she teaches courses in women's literature and Modernism. She is also a frequent translator of Quebec French feminist literature. Her translation of Jovette Marchessault's Lesbian Triptych was awarded the Governor General's Prize for best English translation.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
Introduction 1
from Miracles and Adventures 17
from The Home Front 22
from The Hard Way Up 27
from Round About Bar-le-Duc 30
from The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas 34
from An English Woman-Sergeant in the Serbian Army 40
from Nurse at the Russian Front: A Diary 1914-1918 45
from Testament of Youth 51
from A Diary Without Dates 61
from The Forbidden Zone 65
from Shadow Shapes: The Journal of a Wounded Woman 76
from Where There's Life 82
from We That Were Young 87
from But This Is Our War 91
from Crusade for Justice 99
from Two Colored Women with the A.E.F. 103
from World Without End 108
from One of These Fine Days 117
from Blockade: The Diary of an Austrian Middle-Class Woman 1914-1924 120
from Journey Down a Blind Alley 127
from England's Hour 131
from London Calling 137
from One Child's War 140
from Ladies May Now Leave Their Machines 146
from All the Brave Promises 151
'A Lesbian WAVE' 158
from Song from a Weary Throat 161
from Truth Will Out 165
from Siege and Survival 169
from An Interrupted Life: The Diaries of Etty Hillesum 175
from Auschwitz and After 183
from Forgive, But Do Not Forget 187
from Frauen, 'A Job in its own Category' 193
from Seed of Sarah 199
from Three Came Home 204
from Outwitting the Gestapo 210
from In the Eye of the Hurricane 217
from Wars I Have Seen 222
from A Model Childhood 226
from Surviving the Fire 231
from This Is My Own 238
from Obasan 242
Additional Reading 248
Index 251
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