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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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Wordsworth, Waterloo, and Sacrifice

Wordsworth, Waterloo, and Sacrifice

(p.20) 1 Wordsworth, Waterloo, and Sacrifice
Sacrifice and Modern War Literature

Philip Shaw

Oxford University Press

In this chapter, the author pays particular attention to Wordsworth’s Thanksgiving Ode and to the accompanying sonnet ‘Intrepid sons of Albion!’, revealing the ways in which these poems address ideas of personal and collective sacrifice. With reference to sermons published in the wake of the Battle of Waterloo, Shaw looks at how religious and political rhetoric conspired to convert the shocking toll of victory—an estimated 50,000 dead and wounded—into the compostable soil of national unanimity, and how Wordsworth responded to this communal trauma. For Wordsworth, engagement with national questions of slaughter, sacrifice, and divine providence was inseparable from modes of autobiographical revision.

Keywords:   William Wordsworth, Battle of Waterloo, 1815, sermons, elegy, autobiography

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