Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
Pacifism in literature on World War One: the case of A crimson dawn
Kristianstad University, School of Education and Environment, Avdelningen för Humanvetenskap. Kristianstad University, Forskningsmiljön Forskning Relationell Pedagogik (FoRP).ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0624-8448
2015 (English)In: Perspectives on the "Great" War: selected papers from the World War One International Conference Held at Queen Mary, University of London August 1st – 4th 2014 / [ed] Felicity Rash, Falco Pfalzgraf, 2015, Vol. August, 72-79 p.Conference paper (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The 16 000 conscientious objectors at the beginning of World War One were largely ignored

because they were numerically insignificant and because the hostilities were expected to be

over by Christmas. By 1915, the growing resentment towards conscientious objectors due to

heavy battle losses and the realization that the war would be longer than expected made

pacifism increasingly problematical and controversial. With the introduction of conscription

in 1916 and the enlistment of many conscientious objectors in the Non-Combatant Corps –

where they served as stretcher bearers, ambulance drivers, canteen workers and road makers

– pacifism became increasingly identified with cowardice, as exemplified in the nickname

‘No-Courage Corps’.

My paper explores the different attitudes of pacifists to war and how these were

perceived by both fighting soldiers and civilians. I argue that novels have a special ability to

demonstrate the different views, their origins and effect on the individual concerned. The

wide range of attitudes is clearly illustrated in Pat Barker’s Regeneration (1991), Sebastian

Faulks’s Birdsong (1994), Mackenzie Ford’s Gifts of War (2008), Janet Macleod Trotter’s A

Crimson Dawn (2006), Anne Perry’s At Some Disputed Barricade (2006), and Chris Ryan’s

One Good Turn (2008). My focus is on A Crimson Dawn and the characters of Rab MacCrae,

who is arrested as a conscientious objector and pays the ultimate price, and Emmie Kelso,

who is married to a soldier who volunteers in 1914 and is deeply opposed to pacifism.

What can novels tell us about conscientious objectors that history books cannot? Why

do so many modern British novels feature conscientious objectors? Why do we continue to be

fascinated by their stories? These questions form the basis of my paper.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2015. Vol. August, 72-79 p.
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:hkr:diva-14517OAI: diva2:849734
World War One International Conference Held at Queen Mary, University of London August 1st – 4th 2014
Available from: 2015-08-31 Created: 2015-08-31 Last updated: 2016-03-23Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

fulltext(49 kB)86 downloads
File information
File name FULLTEXT01.pdfFile size 49 kBChecksum SHA-512
Type fulltextMimetype application/pdf

Other links


Search in DiVA

By author/editor
Mattisson, Jane
By organisation
Avdelningen för HumanvetenskapForskningsmiljön Forskning Relationell Pedagogik (FoRP)

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
Total: 86 downloads
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 123 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link