Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning: The Great War in European Cultural History / Edition 1

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Jay Winter's powerful and substantial new study of the "collective remembrance" of the Great War offers a major reassessment of one of the critical episodes in the cultural history of the twentieth century. Using a wide variety of literary, artistic and architectural evidence, Dr. Winter looks anew at the ways, many of them highly traditional, in which communities endeavored to find collective solace after the carnage of the First World War. The result is a profound and moving book, of seminal importance for the attempt to understand the course of European history during the first half of the twentieth century.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"...represents an audacious and persuasive reassessment of the cultural history of the Great War. Winter has seriously undermined the credibility of the standard shibboleths about the death of traditional European civilization and the birth of 'modern memory' amid the bloodshed of 1914-18." William R. Keylor, Boston University, H-Net France

" engaging, even compelling, exploration of the comparative impact of 'mass death' on European culture....[a] nuanced study of the meaning of death and consolation. An erudite piece of scholarship that will certainly set the standard for future studies of its kind, this book is essential reading for anyone interested in the cultural history of the Great War." Choice

"Jay Winter has enlarged the frame of cultural history and enriched its texture. He transforms our understanding of World War One as a cataclysmic event in the experience of European peoples. With learning, imagination and compassion he musters many voices, familiar and unfamiliar, to demonstrate unexpected and even astonishing continuities between traditional and modern perceptions of death and destiny." Kenneth S. Inglis, Emeritus Professor at the Australian National University

"From now on this book will be indispensable to our understanding of the Great War. The most recent scholarship has been taken into account, but, above all, Jay Winter gives us crucial new insights into the war's meaning from the process of mourning for the fallen to apocalyptic literature." George L. Mosse, University of Wisconsin-Madison and author of Fallen Soldiers

"A profound and moving exploration of the search for solace amongst the bewildered 'communities of the bereaved' after the Great War. Here is a historian who has neighboured with the dead to remarkable effect. His grasp of the meanings placed upon loss will place all historians of the First World War in his debt." Keith Robbins, Vice-Chancellor of Saint David's University College, Lampeter

"...the study is beautifully and sensitively written and adds new interpretations to our knowledge of the deeply felt need to memorialize the horrendous human losses of World War I....The volume will appeal to historians, psychologists, literature and art students who study the two World Wars." Agnes Peterson, History

"Otto Dix, he [Winter] tells us, carried both Nietzsche and the bible to the Front after he volunteered for the Imperial German armies, and that bitter image of the war (and society) which he would construct both during and after the conflict would be inspired by an intermingling of modern and ancient ideas. Dix's memory and that of most others would look both forward and back. The greatest strength in Winter's account lies in these moments of detailed reconstruction." International History Review

"Winter's study is an important one. It will form the basis of a reassessment of facile arguments about the nature of cultural change in the twentieth century, and it opens up new areas to examination." Military History

" single book can definitively explain the Great War in terms of its terrible reality or its impact on the social, political, and spiritual constructs of civilization, European or otherwise, but Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning is certainly a significant chapter in the chronicle of that war." Newstead

"In this ambitious study, Jay Winter challenges key distinctions prevalent in scholarly writing on the cultural consequences of the Great War." Sarah Farmer, Journal of Social History

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Product Details

Table of Contents

Introduction: Sites of Memory; Part I. Catostrophe and consolation: 1. Homecomings: the return of the dead; 2. Communities in mourning; 3. Spiritualism and the 'Lost Generation' 4. War memorials and the mourning process; Part II. Cultural codes and languages of mourning: 5. Mythologies of war: films, popular religion, and the business of the sacred; 6. The apocalytic imagination in art: from anticipation to allegory; 7. The apocalytic imagination in war literature; 8. War poetry, romanticism, and the return of the sacred; 9. Conclusion.
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2005

    The Great War in Retrospect

    There are many reasons why World War I has been labeled THE GREAT WAR: it was the war to end all wars in the minds of those who lived through it, who were directly and indirectly affected by it, who continue to reference it as the war with the most emotional cost. In times when wars seems to constantly queue since that inception of world war, wars spreading from WW II, through Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf, Balkans, Eastern Europe, Spain, Africa, Iraq, Afghanistan, South America and on, taking a long hard look at the Great War will hopefully center our attention on a past time that can be analyzed and from which we can hopefully learn. Now that Jay Winters' brilliant book 'Sites of Memory, Sites of Mourning : The Great War in European Cultural History' is available/affordable in paperback, every household should have a copy as children grow into the years of this century. Winters' examination of the devastation of WW I and the ways in which it informed all of the arts, the architecture, the literature, films, memorials - the people of the globe - is a mighty assignment and he is more than successful in humanizing his message. This book overflows with photographs of places, faces, bodies alive and dead, paintings, sculptures, film stills - each of which drives home Winters' powerful message. Sad though it may be to admit, war is a part of life on this abused planet: the more we study it the more we hopefully will reduce it. Winters wants to make sure that we remember, that we read, view, walk through, see, hear, and listen to the remnants the Great War left behind. This is a powerful, necessary book and should be required reading and viewing for us all. Highly recommended. Grady Harp

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