As we approach the 100 year anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, the debate about the enduring legacy of the war and its aftermath has already begun. As someone fascinated by the mythology of the so-called Golden Age that preceded this war, I'm just as interested in the parallels of the Edwardian era to our own as I am with the indelible impact The Great War continues to have on our own collective consciousness.
The outbreak of war in August 1914 is, in many ways, the dividing line between the 'modern' and the 'old' era of empires, and yet it also denotes the gulf between the innocence of the 'before' and the trauma of the 'after'. In countless ways this trauma continues even today in the wars fought over boundaries and enmities established in the aftermath of the First World War.
I've been reading with interest a number of newspaper articles on the enduring impact of the First World War and find the collective soul-searching on the anniversary of the war's outbreak, provides valuable insight into not only our own current global situation but also our understanding of the Edwardian age and its horrific descent into war.
After reading an article in the New York Times (A War to End all Innocence) I found myself revisiting Paul Fussell's book 'The Great War and Modern Memory' and his terrific synthesis of the lasting cultural impact of the Great War. If you haven't read it I highly recommend it and his insight into the legacy of this war and its lasting impact on our society.