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Jonathan Atkin

conflict. Now it is perhaps appropriate that some attention is drawn to contemporary newspapers and periodicals – journalistic reactions fully exposed to public scrutiny and in contrast to the enclosed world of intimate diaries and letters. In summing up one of the main themes of humanistic and aesthetic opposition to the Great War – the friction that existed between the structure of the war-state with its resultant ‘herd instinct’ and notions of the sacredness of the individual – there is perhaps no more apposite personal example than that of Gilbert Cannan, an

in A war of individuals
Open Access (free)
Jonathan Atkin

of the front came to comprehend an altered moral climate, such as Colonel Hanbury-Sparrow’s claim that Passchendalele shattered the force of any moral argument for war. Some men, such as E.P. Southall at his court martial, declared an exemption from the war on specifically moral grounds and, as in Southall’s case, displayed a recognition that the strictures of the war-state could only ‘crush moral liberty’. The ‘coarseness and cruelty of mind’ and resultant mental degradation that war correspondent Philip Gibbs identified could be said to be similar to the metaphor

in A war of individuals
Jonathan Atkin

there was a moral disintegration, both of troops and civilians …’24 Chapman placed this disintegration of moral values higher than the sacrifice of a generation in his personal scale of the effects of the war and their relative gravitas. In this, he echoed the view of the author R.H. Mottram who, when he examined the post-war state of things in Three Personal Records of the War, counted the ‘moral exhaustion of civilised peoples’ as ‘most serious of all’ of the resulting problems that he could identify.25 Chapman pointed out that war altered the routine of life

in A war of individuals
Open Access (free)
Jonathan Atkin

that of men – even when sharing an enlightened, liberal background with them, as within Bloomsbury and its circle. But women emerged from a range of backgrounds and contexts – including that of political agitation linked to specific political aims – whose motivation towards protest, when confronted by the specifics of war, became more individualistic in character and less a part of an organised ‘movement’ or liable to be led by the propaganda of the war-state. Many women in the period leading up to the outbreak of the conflict could lay claim to a history of

in A war of individuals
Open Access (free)
Jonathan Atkin

– By a Fellow of Trinity’, which he believed would have ‘immense sale’ in intellectual circles, Strachey was equally practical, knitting mufflers for soldiers, learning German and considering the position of intellectuals in the war, concluding that ‘We’re all far too weak physically to be of any use at all. If we weren’t we’d still be too intelligent to be thrown away in some really not essential expedition.’41 The natural place for intellectuals, thought Strachey – if they must be incorporated into the war-state – was, perhaps not surprisingly, in the National

in A war of individuals