March 15, 2014
This article provides a re-investigation of the war fiction of Wyndham Lewis and D.H. Lawrence, focusing on their short fiction. It proposes to read the war-related short stories of both writers as displaced autobiographical writing used to negotiate the impact of their war experiences. The texts discussed are placed in the context of critical assumptions in dealing with modernist war writing, challenging the notion that modernist writers opted primarily for indirect, impersonal treatment of the war in their work. Comparing the military perspective of Lewis to Lawrence’s civilian outlook, this article shows that straightforward literary treatment of the First World War was not restricted to the canonical soldier-writers, and that modernist war writing does not necessarily limit itself to allusion, metaphor and oblique stylistic experimentation to address the experience of armed conflict. It traces a profound disillusionment commonly associated with the work of the ‘trench-poets’ in the short fiction of these two disparate modernist/avant-garde writers and explores its impact on Lewis and Lawrence’s respective cultural theory and philosophy.