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Sacrifice and Modern War LiteratureThe Battle of Waterloo to the War on Terror$
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Alex Houen and Jan-Melissa Schramm

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198806516

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198806516.001.0001

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The Penny’s Mighty Sacrifice

The Penny’s Mighty Sacrifice

The Spanish Civil War and Left Poetics

Chapter:
(p.145) 9 The Penny’s Mighty Sacrifice
Source:
Sacrifice and Modern War Literature
Author(s):

Ian Patterson

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198806516.003.0010

In the (often left-wing) writings on the Spanish Civil War, the idea of sacrifice (both transitive and intransitive) is intertwined with theories and practices of class conflict. The secular bent to much left-wing thinking did not preclude using associations with religious sacrifice to characterize the war’s fatalities; the bombing of Guernica and Madrid, for example, were both described as ‘martyrdoms’. Even in those views of the war that emphasized the importance of dialectical materialism, there is often an inherent logic of self-sacrifice—particularly for those middle-class and intellectual members of the Communist left whose commitment to revolution included a commitment to the supersession of their own individuality in the name of the party. This chapter examines how such ideological figurings of sacrifice are presented in lyrical and elegiac poems by poets such as W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Clive Branson, George Barker, Margot Heinemann, and Cecil Day Lewis.

Keywords:   Spanish Civil War, martyrdom, sacrifice, lyric poetry, tragedy, heroism, Communism, W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, George Barker

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