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Topic: A Long, Long Way: Echoes of the Great War

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Subject: A Long, Long Way: Echoes of the Great War
Date Posted: 12/13/2014 2:42 PM ET
Member Since: 10/17/2006
Posts: 1,427
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One of my alma maters has a Center of Excellence in Collaborative Education, Leadership, and Innovation in the Arts, or CELIA   It currently has five faculty members (a professor of history, a senior lecturer in history, a Ph. D. professor of English, and two members of the faculty and a lot of vocal students in the College's School of Music) involved in a major project to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I.   In the spring there will be a full staging of Benjamin Britten's War Requiem with guest conductor Keith Lockhart of the Boston Pops.  Britten wrote the requiem in the early 1960s, but set the traditional Roman Catholic Mass for the Dead with poems about war by Wilfred Owen, who was killed in World War I.

The project will continue for the next few years, with a documentary film on the U.S. during the war.  The film, which the history professor will write, will examine the war through the local community here, which he ways is a "great representative of middle America in 1917, 1918."   Also planned is an exhibit, Dayton in the Great War, to open at the local Historical Park in 2016.

I'm so glad that I read John Dos Passos' trilogy about that time period in our U.S. history.  It is composed of The 42nd Parallel, 1919, and The Big Money,  Those three volumes give the reader a better understanding of that period marked by America's first venture as a world power, and the first time the United States fought a foreign enemy on foreign soil.  The history professor on the CELIA project says: "No two-year period in American history is so transformative.....America is a fundamentally different place in 1919 from what it had been in 1917."

Last Edited on: 12/13/14 2:43 PM ET - Total times edited: 2
Date Posted: 12/14/2014 10:16 PM ET
Member Since: 1/10/2007
Posts: 2,255
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I just ordered The 42nd Parallel from the library..  I've read a lot of Hemingway and Fitzgerald, but have never read Dos Passos.  Here is  another member of the Lost Generation.  Isn't it interesting that WWI is coming under renewed study at this time?

Thank you for the recommendation!

Date Posted: 12/16/2014 3:10 PM ET
Member Since: 9/25/2006
Posts: 316
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Dos Passos' 1921 novel Three Soldiers profiles three soldiers of WWI. The focus is on their different strategies to deal with the tyranny of army discipline, dirt, stupidity, brutality, boredom, monotonous diet, repetitive labor, and utter lack of privacy. The three soldiers exemplify the strategies of moving toward authority (cringing servility), moving away (desertion), and moving against (murder). When this book was first published it caused a sensation. The right denounced the book as radical, socialistic, anti-American, and anti-army. The left defended it as a portrayal of how some men – not all – dealt with the stern demands of army life and organized, industrial butchery. This book has never been out of print. One of the few books by Dos Passos still read in our time, it is the American anti-war novel to come out of WWI, after Dalton Trumbo's Johnny Got His Gun.

Date Posted: 12/16/2014 3:22 PM ET
Member Since: 6/30/2008
Posts: 4,173
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Johnny Got His Gun was too gruesome for me. I think I read about half of it and couldn't take any more.