Touch and Intimacy in First World War Literature by Santanu DasWar writing is haunted by experiences of physical contact: from the muddy realities of the front to the emotional intensity of trench life. Through extensive archival and historical research, analyzing previously unknown letters and diaries alongside literary writings by figures such as Owen and Brittain, Santanu Das recovers the sensuous world of the First World War trenches and hospitals. This original and evocative study alters our understanding of the period as well as of the body at war, and illuminates the perilous intimacy between sense experience, emotion and language as we try to make meaning in times of crisis.
Touch and Intimacy in First World War Literature
Review of the hardback: ' Methodologically, it makes use of a sophisticated and erudite mix of theory Introduction: 'Touch is the spirit and rule of all'; Part I. Mud: 1. Muddy narratives; Part II. Intimacies: 3.
Categories : Body and Mind. In the trenches of World War I, the norms of tactile contact between men changed profoundly. Mutilation and mortality, loneliness and boredom, the strain of constant bombardment, the breakdown of language and the sense of alienation from home led to a new level of intimacy and intensity under which the carefully constructed mores of civilian society broke down. As historian Joanna Bourke has documented in her exciting work on First World War and masculinity, men nursed and fed their friends when ill; they bathed together; they held each other as they danced, and during the long winter months, wrapped blankets around each other. These moments were often grounded in experiential reality, the nature of these encounters — men on the verge of death, under fire, or being ill — giving them an emotional nakedness and intensity that not only outlive their contingent nature but that continue to grow in emotional value and resonance.
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Chrestomather July 2, in Uncategorized Comments 1. First World War writing is an old interest of mine so when I came upon a book with the intriguing title. But one thing puzzled me: if the writer was Indian, as his name suggested, why had he made no reference to the one million Indians who were on the Western front during the First World War? Was this deliberate and if so why? I went to the Net and googled Santanu Das.
In contrast to the leg of the player about to kick the ball in the army match, the third soldier lifts his foot far higher than is needed as he tries to negotiate the duckboard: blindness is inscribed most powerfully at a point where touch is anticipated as collision but is actually absent. The exaggerated gesture dramatises the disjunction between our optical sense of space and the soldiers' tactile perception. Figure John Singer Sargent, Gassed , Imperial War Museum, London. They sat or lay down on the grass, there must have been several hundred.