Comfort examines the works of five Francophone authors who wrote about World War I: Maxence Van der Meersch’s Invasion 14, Colette’s war reporting, Bakary Diallo’s Force-Bonté, Blaise Cendrars’s La Main coupée, and Roland Dorgelès’s Le Réveil des morts. Engaging in a close reading, she analyzes what makes these literary works unique and what they all have in common. These are the stories of groups who have remained on the margins of the World War I narrative: women and children, French West African colonial troops, wounded veterans, and French Foreign Legionnaires, whose stories have been overshadowed by those of the infantrymen in the trenches who are often the heroes of the conventional French World War I novel. Informed by trauma studies as well as literary history, Comfort’s reading of these works enhances our understanding of the way the Great War affected those away from the front lines, and thus contributes to the decentering of the French World War I narrative. This book is of interest to scholars of twentieth-century French literature, culture, and history.
Kathy Comfort is professor of French at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville.
Chapter 1: Psychosomatic Symptomatology as Character Development in Maxence Van der Meersch’s Invasion 14
Chapter 2: Through a Woman’s Eyes: Colette’s War Reporting
Chapter 3: Colonial Boots on the Ground: Bakary Diallo’s Force Bonté (1926)
Chapter 4: Blaise Cendrars’s La Main coupée: A Prose Collage
Chapter 5: Exorcising Guilt in Roland Dorgelès’s Le Réveil des morts
About the Author
“Kathy Comfort's Representations of Marginalized Populations in French WWI Literature offers a multifaceted, in-depth exploration of the Great War as experienced by those – particularly civilians in occupied territory, women, African soldiers – who have too often been overlooked but whose richly diverse humanity comes to the fore in this study, significantly enhancing our understanding of combatants, civilians, and the societies of the first part of the Twentieth Century.”