Remembering War, Resisting Myth: Veteran Autobiographies and the Great War in the Twenty-first Century

Trott, Vincent Andrew (2013). Remembering War, Resisting Myth: Veteran Autobiographies and the Great War in the Twenty-first Century. Journal of War & Culture Studies, 6(4) pp. 328–342.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1179/1752628013Y.0000000003

Abstract

This article examines the reconstruction of the First World War in the autobiographies of Harry Patch and Henry Allingham. As two of the last surviving veterans in Britain, these men assumed a powerful symbolic role, and, with the help of collaborators, both committed their memories to paper shortly before their deaths in 2009. By this stage many scholars agreed that the First World War had been reduced to a set of popular myths which conditioned cultural representations of the conflict, and this remains a pressing concern for many historians as the centenary of the war approaches. With this in mind, this article assesses the extent to which Patch's and Allingham's accounts reinforce or resist mythic narratives of the war, and by exploring the critical and popular reception of their works, it interrogates the notion of a hegemonic and homogenous mythology of the conflict.

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