The Embattled Self: French Soldiers' Testimony of the Great War

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9780801445231: The Embattled Self: French Soldiers' Testimony of the Great War

How did the soldiers in the trenches of the Great War understand and explain battlefield experience, and themselves through that experience? Situated at the intersection of military history and cultural history, The Embattled Self draws on the testimony of French combatants to explore how combatants came to terms with the war. In order to do so, they used a variety of narrative tools at hand―rites of passage, mastery, a character of the soldier as a consenting citizen of the Republic. None of the resulting versions of the story provided a completely consistent narrative, and all raised more questions about the "truth" of experience than they answered. Eventually, a story revolving around tragedy and the soldier as victim came to dominate―even to silence―other types of accounts. In thematic chapters, Leonard V. Smith explains why the novel structured by a specific notion of trauma prevailed by the 1930s.

Smith canvasses the vast literature of nonfictional and fictional testimony from French soldiers to understand how and why the "embattled self" changed over time. In the process, he undermines the conventional understanding of the war as tragedy and its soldiers as victims, a view that has dominated both scholarly and popular opinion since the interwar period. The book is important reading not only for traditional historians of warfare but also for scholars in a variety of fields who think critically about trauma and the use of personal testimony in literary and historical studies.

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From the Back Cover:

"This is an excellent book. In The Embattled Self, Leonard Smith makes three convincing points: war testimonies written at the time of the Great War or in its immediate aftermath told stories of consent; wartime testimonies strove for a documentary realism by using narrative strategies that gave rise to much of their persuasive power; these strategies didn't always work because they failed to suppress feelings--whether of vengeance or bloodlust--deemed out of bounds or imposed false closure on experiences of arbitrary and terrifying violence. The simplicity and verbal economy of Smith's prose in some respects replicates the style of the testimonies he is analyzing."--Philip Nord, Princeton University, author of Impressionists and Politics: Art and Democracy in the Nineteenth Century

"The Embattled Self is an important statement by a scholar at the forefront of his subject. Leonard Smith's subject is how we are to approach the testimony of soldiers who wrote about their experience of the trenches in the Great War. He argues for an approach grounded in narrative theory, which posits that 'experience becomes experience through narrative.' The result is a challenging and stimulating engagement with both well-known and obscure works of fiction and nonfiction."--James McMillan, Richard Pares Professor of History and Director of the Centre for the Study of the Two World Wars, University of Edinburgh

About the Author:

Leonard V. Smith is Frederick B. Artz Professor of History at Oberlin College. He is the author of Between Mutiny and Obedience: The Case of the French Fifth Infantry Division during World War I, coauthor of France and the Great War, 1914–1918, and coeditor of France at War: Vichy and the Historians.

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Book Description Cornell University Press, United States, 2007. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. How did the soldiers in the trenches of the Great War understand and explain battlefield experience, and themselves through that experience? Situated at the intersection of military history and cultural history, The Embattled Self draws on the testimony of French combatants to explore how combatants came to terms with the war. In order to do so, they used a variety of narrative tools at hand--rites of passage, mastery, a character of the soldier as a consenting citizen of the Republic. None of the resulting versions of the story provided a completely consistent narrative, and all raised more questions about the truth of experience than they answered. Eventually, a story revolving around tragedy and the soldier as victim came to dominate--even to silence--other types of accounts. In thematic chapters, Leonard V. Smith explains why the novel structured by a specific notion of trauma prevailed by the 1930s. Smith canvasses the vast literature of nonfictional and fictional testimony from French soldiers to understand how and why the embattled self changed over time. In the process, he undermines the conventional understanding of the war as tragedy and its soldiers as victims, a view that has dominated both scholarly and popular opinion since the interwar period. The book is important reading not only for traditional historians of warfare but also for scholars in a variety of fields who think critically about trauma and the use of personal testimony in literary and historical studies. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780801445231

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Book Description Cornell University Press, United States, 2007. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****.How did the soldiers in the trenches of the Great War understand and explain battlefield experience, and themselves through that experience? Situated at the intersection of military history and cultural history, The Embattled Self draws on the testimony of French combatants to explore how combatants came to terms with the war. In order to do so, they used a variety of narrative tools at hand--rites of passage, mastery, a character of the soldier as a consenting citizen of the Republic. None of the resulting versions of the story provided a completely consistent narrative, and all raised more questions about the truth of experience than they answered. Eventually, a story revolving around tragedy and the soldier as victim came to dominate--even to silence--other types of accounts. In thematic chapters, Leonard V. Smith explains why the novel structured by a specific notion of trauma prevailed by the 1930s. Smith canvasses the vast literature of nonfictional and fictional testimony from French soldiers to understand how and why the embattled self changed over time. In the process, he undermines the conventional understanding of the war as tragedy and its soldiers as victims, a view that has dominated both scholarly and popular opinion since the interwar period. The book is important reading not only for traditional historians of warfare but also for scholars in a variety of fields who think critically about trauma and the use of personal testimony in literary and historical studies. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780801445231

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Book Description Cornell University Press. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Hardcover. 232 pages. Dimensions: 9.0in. x 6.1in. x 0.9in.How did the soldiers in the trenches of the Great War understand and explain battlefield experience, and themselves through that experience Situated at the intersection of military history and cultural history, The Embattled Self draws on the testimony of French combatants to explore how combatants came to terms with the war. In order to do so, they used a variety of narrative tools at handrites of passage, mastery, a character of the soldier as a consenting citizen of the Republic. None of the resulting versions of the story provided a completely consistent narrative, and all raised more questions about the truth of experience than they answered. Eventually, a story revolving around tragedy and the soldier as victim came to dominateeven to silenceother types of accounts. In thematic chapters, Leonard V. Smith explains why the novel structured by a specific notion of trauma prevailed by the 1930s. Smith canvasses the vast literature of nonfictional and fictional testimony from French soldiers to understand how and why the embattled self changed over time. In the process, he undermines the conventional understanding of the war as tragedy and its soldiers as victims, a view that has dominated both scholarly and popular opinion since the interwar period. The book is important reading not only for traditional historians of warfare but also for scholars in a variety of fields who think critically about trauma and the use of personal testimony in literary and historical studies. This item ships from multiple locations. Your book may arrive from Roseburg,OR, La Vergne,TN. Hardcover. Bookseller Inventory # 9780801445231

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