World War I brought about a revolution in the ideas of the masses. No longer would people of warring nations apathetically back their governments and armies. A concerted and public effort on the part of a literary circle turned soldiers attacked government propaganda. Questioning the glories of war and the need for nationalism, an 'anti-war' literary genre developed in the trenches of Europe during World War I. Gruesome imagery juxtaposed with daily events brought war to the pages of literature. Despite the formation of this new 'anti-war' literary genre, few popular poets chose to tackle the theme of war and its purpose. Of the few poets, only two, Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen, attempted in any sincere sense to convey reactions to war in the modernist style. Sassoon and Owen both write about the glorification of life and the detestability of war; however, while Owen's "Dulce et Decorum est" depicts the universal perception of war, Sassoon's "Base Details" more subjectively intellectualizes war through his melodramatic efforts. Owen's objectivity creates an immortal image of war while Sassoon's subjectivity makes his works anachronistic.
Sassoon's and Owen's backgrounds shed light on their respective styles as poets. Unlike Sassoon, Owen only posthumously achieved a level of stature in literature. Born in 1893,Wilfred Owen experienced an almost Dickensian childhood featuring a devout mother and "rough-hewn" father. Sent for his first year of education to a harshly disciplinarian academy, Owen learned to escape into the world of literature. He later joined the British army's 5th Battalion and within a few months, fought on the battle front. During ...
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...bitter criticism of his prose today. Owen, as a modernist poet, has stylistically far surpassed Sassoon in the eyes of critics and readers.
Cohen, Joseph. "Thee roles of Siegfried Sassoon": Rpt. in Poetry Criticism. Ed. Jane Kosek. Vol. 12. Detroit: Gale Research Inc, 1995. 248-250.
Magill, Frank. "Wilfred Owen": Rpt. in Critical Survey of poetry. Ed. Dedria Bryfonski. Vol. 5. New Jersey: Salem Press Inc, 1982. 2157 - 2163.
Murry, John M. "Mr. Sassoon's War Verses.": Rpt. in Poetry Criticisms. Ed. R. Cobden. Vol. 12. Detroit: Gale Research Inc. 1997. 75-84.
Murry, John M. "The Poet of War": Rpt. in Poetry Criticisms. Ed. Carol Gaffke. Vol. 19. Detroit: Gale Research Inc. 1997. 705-707.
Parsons, I. M. "The Poems of Wilfred Owen": Rpt. in Poetry Criticisms. Ed. Carol Gaffke. Vol. 19. Detroit: Gale Research Inc. 1997. 658.
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