Aftershocks: Politics and Trauma in Britain, 1918-1931 by Susan Kingsley Kent

By Susan Kingsley Kent

This publication examines the effect of collective trauma bobbing up out of the nice struggle at the politics of the Nineteen Twenties in Britain. Aftershocks reports how meanings of shellshock and imagery featuring the traumatized psyche as shattered contributed to Britons understandings in their political selves within the Twenties. It connects the strength of feelings to the political tradition of a decade which observed amazing violence opposed to these considered as un-English.

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Extra resources for Aftershocks: Politics and Trauma in Britain, 1918-1931

Sample text

Goodbye to All That came out in 1929, part of that “flood of wartime reminiscences,” as Carrington described it, that inundated the reading public. ” For some, a single memoir would not do; Siegfried Sassoon, for example, as Paul Fussell has observed, obsessively perseverated over the war, producing account after account that failed to put things to rest. ”45 Just as the war memoirs served the needs of individuals to place themselves within a coherent narrative stream, the overwhelming assaults on the nation—defying narration, as we have seen in the denial of grief and the obliteration of the flu epidemic from memory—created a desperate demand for a national narrative of wholeness.

28 At the age of two, Anthony Burgess was found by his father lying on his cot in the same room where his mother and sister had lain dead for 24 Aftershocks an unknown period of time. In a passage recalling the gaps in memory opened up by traumatic events, Burgess remembered an early period of his life “sitting on a shoulder in Manchester’s Piccadilly while a flagwaving crowd cheers the Armistice. ” The death of his mother and sister remained blank in his mind, but he sometime later “came to full consciousness in a terraced house .

Bob Bushaway has argued that the Armistice Day celebrations did effect the national integration they sought to create, dulling incipient political conflicts and paving the way for the emergence of moderate conservatism under Stanley Baldwin. Adrian Gregory offers a corrective to this view, arguing instead that the rituals of memorialization on Armistice Day, while they may have contributed to visions of unity in the nation, also created their own divisions. For commemoration can actually foreclose the very work of reconciliation with loss it seeks to effect.

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