A Muse of Fire: Literature, Art and War

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Hambledon Press, 1998 - Literary Criticism - 326 pages
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This is the first book to relate to the literature and art of the First World War to the literature and art produced by the Second World War and by earlier wars. A Muse of Fire is also the first serious attempt to examine the whole range of war poetry and war fiction in English in its relation to the work of German, French, Italian and - to a lesser extent - Russian, Danish, and Hungarian authors.

Before 1914 few authors wrote about or experienced war. War, especially its reality, was not the proper subject of literature; while writers seldom served in the armed forces and were almost never in battle.

More than half this book deals with the First World War. In successive chapters A.D. Harvey discusses what sort of people, in what sort of physical and psychological conditions, wrote about the war; or painted it; how they handled the challenge of describing their experiences with complete honesty; what literary and artistic techniques they employed; how other forms of creative talent were fostered by the war; and how far memoirs of the war prepared the way for the next one.

The account given of the Second World War in the final section, like the chapters on pre-1914 war literature, provides far more than simply an introduction and conclusion to the central part of the book. It is an important contribution to an understanding of how literature and art relate to the psychological and social structures of the communities within which they are produced.
This is the first book to relate to the literature and art of the First World War to the literature and art produced by the Second World War and by earlier wars. A Muse of Fire is also the first serious attempt to examine the whole range of war poetry and war fiction in English in its relation to the work of German, French, Italian and - to a lesser extent - Russian, Danish, and Hungarian authors.

Before 1914 few authors wrote about or experienced war. War, especially its reality, was not the proper subject of literature; while writers seldom served in the armed forces and were almost never in battle.

More than half this book deals with the First World War. In successive chapters A.D. Harvey discusses what sort of people, in what sort of physical and psychological conditions, wrote about the war; or painted it; how they handled the challenge of describing their experiences with complete honesty; what literary and artistic techniques they employed; how other forms of creative talent were fostered by the war; and how far memoirs of the war prepared the way for the next one.

The account given of the Second World War in the final section, like the chapters on pre-1914 war literature, provides far more than simply an introduction and conclusion to the central part of the book. It is an important contribution to an understanding of how literature and art relate to the psychological and social structures of the communities within which they are produced.

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About the author (1998)

A.D. Harvey is well known to the readers of leading American, British, French, Dutch, German, Italian, Hungarian, Italian, Russian and Swiss scholarly quarterlies. This is his first novel.

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