Conclusion: Summary and Some Theoretical Implications of the Study of Great War Memoirs

  • Jerry PalmerEmail author
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Life Writing book series (PSLW)


Here the main themes in the texts and their reception are analysed. The overwhelming emphasis in both is the insistence on authenticity, deriving from eye-witness accounts of personal experience. As a result of this emphasis, the distinction between fact and fiction is eroded: what counted was the truth of the account, which was seen primarily as truth-to-experience, regardless of whether the form in which it was presented was nominally fact or fiction. This desire for authenticity extended to the language used to describe the war: the older, conventional vocabulary of heroism became discredited. The balance between positive and negative conceptions of the war, and the way in which these appear in the frame of personal experience is shown to be central, as is the way in which this balance was part of the memoirs’ influence on public opinion. The book closes with an analysis of the relationship between ethical and aesthetic judgment, as seen in the response to the war memoirs.


Primary Sources: The Memoir Texts

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.LondonUK

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