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Nine Wartime Lives: Mass Observation and the Making of the by James Hinton

By James Hinton

In 9 Wartime Lives, James Hinton makes use of diaries saved by means of 9 'ordinary' humans in wartime Britain to reassess the social background of the second one global battle, and to mirror at the twentieth-century making of the trendy self. those diaries have been written via many of the strangely self-reflective and public-spirited those that agreed to put in writing intimate journals approximately their day-by-day task for the social learn association, Mass commentary. one of many 9 diarists mentioned is Nella final, whose released diaries were a resource of pleasure and fascination for lots of millions of readers. along her there are chapters on 8 different Mass Observers, each one of their personal method as vibrant, attention-grabbing, and marvelous as Nella herself. A primary perception underpins the ebook: in looking to make the easiest of our personal lives, each one people makes selective use of the assets of our shared tradition in a special means; and, in so doing, we give a contribution, in spite of the fact that modestly, to molecular strategies of old switch. putting members on the heart of his research, James Hinton probes the impression of warfare on attitudes to citizenship, the altering relationships among women and men, and the quest for meanings in existence which can go beyond the wartime context of unlimited violence. regularly delicate, considerate and infrequently relocating, this fantastically written publication resists nostalgic contrasts among the presumed dutiful citizenship of wartime Britain and modern anti-social individualism, pointing as an alternative to longer run techniques of swap rooted as a lot in struggles for private autonomy within the deepest sphere as within the politics of lively citizenship in public existence.

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Extra info for Nine Wartime Lives: Mass Observation and the Making of the Modern Self

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Nella was gratified by her own part in constructing this refuge, feeling that they were all ‘my dear children’, and wishing she could ‘shield them from the heartaches ahead’: I look round the big room at faces I’ve known and loved for over four years. My heart aches and, even in that small circle, the bravery and courage, the ‘going on’ when only sons have been killed, when letters don’t come, when their boys are taught to fight like savages . . trained . . ⁶⁵ There was a kind of displaced mothering in the meaning that Nella found in her WVS work.

There was a kind of displaced mothering in the meaning that Nella found in her WVS work. ⁶⁶ At the same time, however, she made a vow that she would consider herself to be a soldier as long as he was one. This had a satisfying simplicity, but it hardly did justice to the complexities of the impact of war on her sense of who she was. Like most of the Mass-Observation diarists, her feelings about the war were complicated. ‘One cannot touch pitch without defilement’ The closest Nella came to being a soldier was in the autumn of 1941, when a chance encounter led her into an adventure worthy of a Graham Greene spy story.

There has been a long-running historical debate about the apparent association between war and female emancipation. In both world wars feminists welcomed the mobilization of women as a precursor of female emancipation. By proving in wartime their capacity to undertake work previously restricted to men, women would demonstrate the irrationality of existing gender roles and lay the basis for greater equality between the sexes. The extension of the suffrage after the First World War seemed to bear this out.

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