In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

ELT 48 : 3 2005 fenses of the war and high modern aesthetics. Asserting that there were "provocations" which led to modernist language, Sherry finds the relationship in the "consistency" of the aesthetic response. But his subject matter resists him, for Sherry takes as his subject writers for whom the war did not loom large in their explicit statements, writers who additionally —unlike Owen, Sassoon, and Rosenberg—did not go to war. As a consequence, the effects of the war on the high moderns are not obvious, and in his attempt to posit the war as the cause for high modern style, Sherry does not find the necessary smoking gun. Sherry is very good on showing a homologous relationship between liberal language and modernist aesthetics. Yet while he describes the similar properties of language quite well, Sherry is not completely convincing on establishing a causal connection. I found myself not accepting the strong version of his argument, but a weaker version. The strong version is clearly articulated : for example, Sherry argues that I. A. Richards's linguistic theories were formulated in response to the linguistic conditions of liberal responses to the war, and that Pound saw the language of the war as a provocation to which his own writing responded: "The inventiveness reaches to a degree commensurate with the scale of the provocation." But I find resemblances and echoes, not causes and effects. This difference may simply be the result of a weakness that all cultural arguments have in establishing causes and effects. In any case, even with this weakness Sherry has written an excellent book, one that describes an aspect of modern writing that has homologies with, and achieves some of its aesthetic heft from, Liberal wartime speech. LEONARD DIEPEVEEN Dalhousie University Modernity & Male Friendship in WWI Sarah Cole. Modernism, Male Friendship, and the First World War. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003. vii + 297 pp. $60.00 EARLY ON in this study (its title misleading since the terrain is modernity rather than modernism), Cole puts paid to any hasty claim for queer politics as she takes her distance from the contention that male friendship is a cover for homosexuality or a pretext to sentimentalize adolescence. Rather than being a "voluntary relation, governed by personal sentiment and easy communion," friendship, she maintains, possesses "its own conventions and institutional affinities" and is thus "shot through with social meaning." This reconceptualization allows for 342 BOOK REVIEWS a compelling argument, which has important ramifications for an understanding both of the literary texts and of the culture that shaped and was in turn shaped by them. In her balanced contribution to the scholarship of the Great War, Cole though not subscribing to "the narrative of war-as-watershed" doesn't dismiss the work of critics such as Fussell and Gilbert and Gubar, but provides a more nuanced assessment of the impact of war on the literary and cultural landscape of Britain. She adds to the insights of Elaine Scarry, Stephen Ward, and Joanna Bourke and other recent war scholars apropos the alleged reluctance of the alienated ex-combatant to resume civilian life, the relevance of the notion of a lost generation, and the way in which the privileging of shell-shock in critical discourse has overshadowed the import for civilian contemporaries of the spectacle of physical injury, thus further complicating the role of war in shaping modernity . Rather than endorsing the well-established notion that the war provided a unique opportunity for male intimacy—a claim that has long been unchallenged and has been reaffirmed in fiction by Pat Barker's successful trilogy—Cole, while affirming that in "the West the story of war is almost always a story of male bonds," is more interested in examining how "one of the basic facts of the war is that it destroyed friendship " and in arguing that far from being a site of great intimacy, "the war fostered distance and self-protectiveness." Against the generally held assumption that comradeship and friendship are interchangeable conditions , capable of overpowering and containing class conflict, Cole calls attention to the anxiety about class unrest generated by the perceived potential for revolt of returning combatants and distinguishes between "comradeship" (a group commitment...


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 342-345
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Archive Status
Ceased Publication
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.