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Modern nostalgia - Robert Hemmings

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Modern nostalgia - Siegfried Sassoon, trauma and the Second World War
Robert Hemmings
Edinburgh University Press
UK Publication Date

This book explores Siegfried Sassoon's writing of the twenties, thirties and forties, demonstrating the connections between trauma and nostalgia in a culture saturated with the anxieties of war. Informed by the texts of Freud, W.H.R. Rivers and other psychological writers of the early twentieth century, as well as contemporary theorists of nostalgia and trauma, this book examines the pathology of nostalgia conveyed in Sassoon's unpublished poems, letters and journals, together with his published work. It situates his ongoing anxiety about 'Englishness', modernity, and his relation to modernist aesthetics, within the context of other literary responses to the legacy of war, and the threat of war's return, by writers including Edmund Blunden, Robert Graves and T. E. Lawrence. This study teases out the relationship between nostalgia, trauma and autobiography, and forges connections between the literatures of the two world wars. As a case study of modern nostalgia, this book offers an alternative to the perception that Sassoon's historical and cultural relevance touches the First World War only.Key Features*Provides the most thorough, eloquently crafted and focused revisionist study of Siegfried Sassoon to date*Sets Sassoon's work in new contexts and offers Sassoon as a case study for new ways of remembering war*Taps into current theories of trauma, nostalgia and memory*Establishes continuities between the literary culture of the First and Second World Wars

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Modern Nostalgia is a fascinating inquiry into the relation between nostalgia and trauma...In its range and precision, in its imagination and suggestiveness, Hemmings's outstanding book is a tour de force.
Paul Stevens, Professor and Canada Research Chair in English Literature, University of Toronto

In examining the ways in which Sassoon adopted and adapted Rivers's theories, Hemmings places Sassoon's turn inwards in a variety of contexts: literary, historical, and as part of the history of attempts to understand and cure war trauma. As a result this fascinating study deserves close attention from literary scholars of the inter-war period, while the connections it explores between nostalgia and war trauma also lend it an interest that transcends disciplinary boundaries. Modern Nostalgia sheds light both on a neglected and maligned part of Sassoon's oeuvre and on a fascinating strand of medical history.
Modern Language Review

Keyword Index
Psychic trauma in literature.|Nostalgia in literature.|World War, 1939-1945 - Literature and the war.
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