By Susan Kingsley Kent
This booklet examines the effect of collective trauma coming up out of the good struggle at the politics of the Twenties in Britain. Aftershocks stories how meanings of shellshock and imagery proposing the traumatized psyche as shattered contributed to Britons understandings in their political selves within the Nineteen 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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Additional resources for Aftershocks: The Politics of Trauma in Britain, 1918-1931
39 In part because they feared the nightmares that would follow sleep, insomnia haunted returning veterans. Some succumbed to amnesia— bouts of blackouts usually followed Graves’ flashbacks. R. Ackerley felt enormous guilt that he had survived the war when his brother, Peter, had not. He found that he could not remember anything about the weeks he shared with his brother in the same battalion; his memory of other events and people was so bad, he allowed, that he could not say with any confidence that he really cared about anyone.
As Aldington put it, “By writing Death of a Hero I purged my bosom of perilous stuff which had been poisoning me for a decade. ” The upheaval and possibility of flooding represented by a thunder storm gave way to clarity and calm. It appears to have taken about ten years for returning vets to compose the narrative that adequately gave meaning to their experiences: Graves “made several attempts during [the twenties] . . ” Goodbye to All That came out in 1929, part of that “flood of wartime reminiscences,” as Carrington described it, that inundated the reading public.
42 Veterans, men and women alike, found that the society to which they returned could not or would not embrace them with the respect and dignity they believed their sacrifices had earned them. 43 Out of work, finding it difficult to adapt to civilian life, these one-time heroes were now “returned soldiers,” “a problem to their country, if not a bore,” as Rathbone noted. ” Veterans especially resented the apparent failure of postwar society to appreciate the nature of those sacrifices, to ask them to go about their lives as if no traces of the wounds of war existed.
Aftershocks: The Politics of Trauma in Britain, 1918-1931 by Susan Kingsley Kent