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Enemy Encounters in the War Poetry of Wilfred Owen, Keith Douglas, and Randall Jarrell

Department of English, Liverpool Hope University, Taggart Ave, Liverpool L16 9JD, UK
Humanities 2018, 7(3), 89; https://doi.org/10.3390/h7030089
Received: 30 August 2018 / Accepted: 11 September 2018 / Published: 14 September 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue War and Literature: Commiserating with the Enemy)
While some war poets amplify the concept of anonymity for enemy soldiers, projecting an “us vs. them” mentality, other defining voices of war counter this militaristic impulse to dehumanize the enemy. This pivot toward describing the World Wars more like humanitarian crises than an epic of good and evil is most notable in poems that chronicle both real and imagined close-range encounters between combatants. The poem “Strange Meeting” by British First World War soldier Wilfred Owen uses the vision of two enemy soldiers meeting in hell to reinforce his famous notion that war is something to be pitied. As a result of technological advancements in the Second World War and the increasing distance of combat, the poems “Vergissmeinnicht” and “How to Kill” by British Second World War soldier Keith Douglas wrestle with dehumanizing the enemy and acknowledging their humanity. “Protocols” by American Second World War soldier Randall Jarrell is an imagined view of civilian victims, and is a reckoning with the horrors human beings are capable of committing. View Full-Text
Keywords: First World War; Second World War; Wilfred Owen; Keith Douglas; Randall Jarrell; war poetry; distance; soldiers; enemies; encounters First World War; Second World War; Wilfred Owen; Keith Douglas; Randall Jarrell; war poetry; distance; soldiers; enemies; encounters
MDPI and ACS Style

Sarnowski, M. Enemy Encounters in the War Poetry of Wilfred Owen, Keith Douglas, and Randall Jarrell. Humanities 2018, 7, 89.

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