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Dbq Regarding the Literary Responses to World War 1 from 1914 to 1928 Essay

Historical Context:
World War 1 (1914-1918) was a war that was inevitable, but almost entirely underestimated. As the war dragged on for four years and millions of lives were expended in the name of victory, many were greatly impacted culturally, mainly Europeans and Americans. In what was known as the lost generation, many poets and writers developed new forms of literature in response to the devastating consequences of the war.

DBQ Prompt: Identify and analyze the various European and American literary responses to World War 1 created during the war and in the decade after the end of World War 1.

Document #1
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Source: Paul Valéry, French poet and critic, “The Crisis of the Mind,” evaluation of European mind and civilization (1920). ————————————————-

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The storm has died away, and still we are restless, uneasy, as if the storm were about to break. Almost all the affairs of men remain in a terrible uncertainty. We think of what has disappeared, and we are almost destroyed by what has been destroyed; we do not know what will be born, and we fear the future, not without reason… Doubt and disorder are in us and with us. There is no thinking man, however shrewd or learned he may be, who can hope to dominate this anxiety, to escape from, this impression of darkness. ————————————————-

Document #2
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Source: Roland Leighton, British soldier serving in France, letter to fiancé Vera Brittain (1915). ————————————————-

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Among this chaos of twisted iron and splintered timber and shapeless earth are the fleshless, blackened bones of simple men who poured out their red, sweet wine of youth unknowing, for nothing more tangible than Honour or their Country’s Glory or another’s Lust of Power.

Let him who thinks that war is a glorious golden thing, who loves to roll forth stirring words of exhortation, invoking Honour and Praise and Valour and Love of Country. Let him look at a little pile of sodden grey rags that cover half a skull and a shine bone and what might have been its ribs, or at this skeleton lying on its side, resting half-crouching as it fell, supported on one arm, perfect but that it is headless, and with the tattered clothing still draped around it; and let him realise how grand and glorious a thing it is to have distilled all Youth and Joy and Life into a foetid heap of hideous putrescence. ————————————————-

Document #3
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Source: Ernest Hemingway, American author and expatriate, “The Sun Also Rises,” expatriate character adventure (1926). ————————————————-

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You’re an expatriate. You’ve lost touch with the soil. You get precious. Fake European standards have ruined you. You drink yourself to death. You become obsessed with sex. You spend all your time talking, not working. You are an expatriate, see? You hang around cafes. ————————————————-

Document #4
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Source: F. Scott Fitzergerald, American writer, “This Side of Paradise,” examines post-war morality with fictional love plot (1920).

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I simply state that I’m a product of a versatile mind in a restless generation-with every reason to throw my mind and pen in with the radicals. Even if, deep in my heart, I thought we were all blind atoms in a world as limited as a stroke of a pendulum, I and my sort would struggle against tradition; try, at least, to displace old cants with new ones. I’ve thought I was right about life at various times, but faith is difficult. One thing I know. If living isn’t seeking for the grail it may be a damned amusing game. ————————————————-

Document #5
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Source: Eleanor Chaffer, French woman, poem “Lost Generation” published in a newspaper (1921). ————————————————-

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Look not for the flower of innocence in these eyes,
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Gravely and silently they have looked on death,
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Seen terror rain down from unfriendly skies,
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Learned while yet infants how frail is man’s breath.
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They have turned from a landscape where the ground
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Is poisoned and destroyed: give them a toy
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And it is held in their hands with no sound
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Of childish mirth. This solemn-faced small boy
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Is older than his father: in his face,
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Wisdom is the ghost that will not leave;
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The world to him is a wild and dangerous place;
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No covert here where he may hide and grieve.
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Look well on these, and on the world we made
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As heritage for them — and be afraid!

Document #6
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Source: Wilfred Owen, English poet and soldier, Dulce et Decorum Est, addressed to his mother, written 1917, published later (1920) ————————————————-

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If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,

My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory
That old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori
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Document #7
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Source: D.H. Lawrence, English novelist and poet, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, fictional protagonist has a love affair, examines structural morale (1928). ————————————————-

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Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is
now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen. ————————————————-

Document #8
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Source: Kathe Kollwitz, German expressionist artist, The Survivors (1922), by Kathe Kollwitz

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