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Mediating war: hot diaries, liquid letters and vivid remembrances
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-08, 22:30 authored by Hope WolfHope Wolf
Introductions to life-writing anthologies often allude to the ‘immediacy’ of their contents. The term has been attached to diaries and letters, the life stories of so-called ordinary people, oral as opposed to written remembrances, and, most particularly, accounts of difficult or distressing experiences—memories of war, for instance. This article considers what implications the privileging of unmediated experience might have for the work of life writing. It will do so through readings of epistolary responses, written between 1963–4, to a BBC call for ‘vivi[d]’ remembrances of the First World War; these would be used to produce an ambitious documentary series, The Great War. The article explores how dreams of immediacy shaped these responses, and draws attention to the stylistic means and metaphors by which experiential proximity was performed. It raises the question of whether assumptions about the virtues of immediacy risk discouraging the production of valuable forms of life writing: sustained, critical and reflective.
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Department affiliated with
- English Publications
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