French Lessons: Edith Wharton’s War Propaganda

Blazek, William (2008) French Lessons: Edith Wharton’s War Propaganda. Revue française d’études américaines, 115 (1). pp. 10-22. ISSN 0397-7870

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Edith Wharton wrote war propaganda aimed at encouraging the United States to declare war on Germany and explaining the depth of Franco-American compatibility, but beneath these key purposes her writing also expresses a women’s perspective on the nature and meaning of war. She focuses on what French culture, with its refined artistic and intellectual traditions, can teach America when national ideals are threatened; and among the lessons presented in her writing are the ways that war propaganda can be redefined to encompass gender issues and aesthetic debate. Moreover, the technical virtuosity that Wharton employs in her work extends the genre of propaganda, as she probes the difficulties in writing about war while also demonstrating the need for and value of artistic engagement in the war effort. Critically analysing the non-fiction texts Fighting France and French Ways and Their Meaning as well as the novels The Marne and A Son at the Front, the author concludes that the basis of Wharton’s propaganda literature is “intellectual courage,” a vital quality that underlies the innovations presented in her texts.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Edith Wharton, World War I, propaganda literature, gender relations, aesthetic engagement, United States, France, Germany
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Faculty / Department: Faculty of Arts & Humanities > English
Depositing User: Susan Murray
Date Deposited: 18 Dec 2013 15:37
Last Modified: 18 Dec 2013 15:37

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