This was another fun cultural survey by the women who wrote the marvellous You’re a brick, Angela! (which I wrote about very briefly a couple of years ago). This time they were looking at literature written for women and children about war, starting with the first World War up to the contemporary literature (well, seventies) about the second World War. This was interesting and funny (not as funny as YABA but the material doesn’t have such a wonderfully camp ghastliness about it).
The difference between the overt jingoism of the first world war and the contemporary books about the horror of war is very interesting, as is the way the second world war is approached at the time: there’s far more jolly whimsical stuff about blackouts and Home Guard japes than there is serious stuff about people actually in the war on the continent. The Holocaust barely seems to feature as a subject for fiction until the 1960s.
They miss out a good example of WW1 jingoism, though – Rilla of Ingleside (the chronological last of the Anne of Green Gables books) is really fascinating, especially given that it’s set in Canada. The deeply unpleasant characterisation of the ‘pacifist’ of the village is particularly interesting for what it says about the attitudes of the time.