Question Of The Week: "The Great War And Modern Memory"

by Conor Friedersdorf

A reader writes:

In "The Great War and Modern Memory," Fussell demonstrates how the cataclysm of World War I actually changed the consciousness of the poets and writers who experienced, which in turn changed their writing, which in turn changed how our culture sees the world.  A culture that seemed as fixed as the physical laws of the universe was upended in the space of four years.  He also rails against what he calls, if I recall correctly, "the habit of gross dichotomization," the bad habit, also a product of the Great War, as seeing every question as having an either/or answer.  There are few such answers; in fact, the most important questions don't even have answers, just more questions.