Unquiet on the home front : Scottish popular fiction and the truth of war

Goldie, David; Rennie, David, ed. (2020) Unquiet on the home front : Scottish popular fiction and the truth of war. In: Scottish Literature and World War One. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, pp. 62-80. ISBN 9781474454599

[thumbnail of Goldie-EUP-2020-Unquiet-on-the-home-front]
Text. Filename: Goldie_EUP_2020_Unquiet_on_the_home_front.pdf
Accepted Author Manuscript

Download (581kB)| Preview


Ever since C. E. Montague’s account of wartime disillusionment, Disenchantment (1922), it has been common to believe that the popular press in the First World War played a part in effectively silencing soldiers: representing the actions in which they were involved in vague euphemistic terms; relying heavily either on outright lies or an outdated and inappropriate vocabulary of heroism, glory, and honour to render the experience of wartime unrecognisable to the soldiers themselves; forcing a cognitive chasm between servicemen and credulous civilians across which meaningful communication was no longer possible. These are the arguments that underpin Paul Fussell’s analysis of the corrosive ubiquity of wartime euphemism in The Great War and Modern Memory. They underline, too, Samuel Hynes’s diagnosis of an ‘unbridgeable gap’ between soldier and civilian with its consequent debauching of the currency of language, and contribute to Randall Stevenson’s characterisation of the First World War as an ‘unspeakable war’.