When I was a kid in the mid 60s, we lived near Verdun (Etain), and it still
a weird, spooky atmosphere: churches with bullet holes, stone outer walls of
blown-out farm houses, wrecked 'pill-box' machine-gun nests, and
multi-lingual signs to not go into the woods because there are still
unexploded ordinances. The sense of meaninglessness in the battle of Verdun
(where it really wasn't a strategy to go to Paris, just to siphon off French
manpower from other areas on the front) seems to be a microcosm of WWI in
general (where there wasn't a clash of ideologies so much as slippery slope
of alliances which none of the world leaders could or would stop).
From: Carrol Cox [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Saturday, February 22, 2003 3:04 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Do I dare disturb the universe
Nancy Gish wrote:
> Re: Waste Land and war--soldiers like Stetson and Lil's husband, rats
> alley (a term apparently for the trenches), dead bodies, the song about
> Mrs. Porter, which was apparently sung by Australian troops. . . .
It was apparently difficult even for contemporaries to grasp the deep
horrors of World War I. (All wars have their horrors, but World War 1
seems to have been in some ways unique.) Responses from participants in
the Battle of Verdun can give some distant sense of it. (The URL for
this was posted on another list in response to some offensive posts on
French courage.) Some of these excerpts provide a gloss on "dead bodies"
which the phrase alone cannot carry.
I am not a pacifist, but how people can lightly be cheerleaders for war,
as some on this list are, is beyond my powers of imagination.