Fiction: Poetry, Drama & Plays
Fiction - Poetry, Drama & Plays
The Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902, fought between the pride of the British Empire at the height of its world-wide power and two small rural republics at the tip of Africa, provoked remarkably vehement reactions not only in Britain, but all round the world. Much of this reaction was expressed in verse, most of it subliterary, but some of it such as Hardy's 'Drummer Hodge', putting forward a view of war more akin to Owen's 'Futility' than Tennyson's 'The Change of the Light Brigade'. The first chapter of Drummer Hodge traces the growth of pacifist attitudes to war and the compassionate treatment of soldiering in the course of the nineteenth century. Subsequent chapters deal with the imperial theme (much questioned at this time) in Boer War verse; the contributions of writers such as Newbolt, Hardy, Kipling, and AE Housman, as well as that of numerous soldier poets; the effect of the war on the literature of the Boers; Boer war poetry from the United States and the rest of the English-speaking world; and the literary results of the enormous pro-Boer movement in France, Germany and Holland: countries in which the Boer republics were seen as images of a rural simplicity and patriarchal integrity lost in Europe. The work is based on research completed over many years in libraries in South Africa, Britain, France, Germany and Holland, and constitutes an exercise in the comparative history of nineteenth-century English and European war poetry on a scale probably not attempted before.